Weight-loss goals: 10 tips for success
The Mayo Clinic offers these 10 weight-loss tips:
- Personalize your goals. Set goals that are within your
capabilities and that take into account your limitations. Also, consider
your personal fitness level, health concerns, available time and motivation.
Tailoring your expectations to your personal situation helps you set
- Aim for realistic weight loss. Healthy weight loss
usually occurs slowly and steadily. In general, plan to lose 1 to 2 pounds a
week (0.5 to 1 kilogram) — even if your initial weight loss is a little
faster in the first week or two. To do this, you need to burn 500 to 1,000
calories more than you consume each day. Also, don't expect to lose more of
your body weight than is realistic. For instance, set a goal of losing 10
percent of your current weight, rather than 30 percent.
- Focus on the process. Make most of your goals process
goals, rather than outcome goals. "Exercise regularly" is an example of a
process goal, while "weigh 145 pounds" is an example of an outcome goal.
It's changing your processes — your daily behaviors and habits — that's key
to weight loss, not necessarily focusing on a specific number on the scale.
Just make sure that your process goals are specific, measurable and
- Think short term and long term. Short-term goals keep
you engaged on a daily basis, but long-term goals motivate you over the long
haul. Your short-term goals can become stepping stones to reaching long-term
goals. Because healthy, permanent weight loss can be a long process, your
goals need to be feasible for the long term.
- Write it down. When planning your goals, write down
everything and go through all the details. When and where will you do it?
How will you fit a walk into your schedule? What do you need to get started?
What snacks can you cut out each day? Then track your progress to see if
you're meeting your goals.
- Pick a date. Timing is crucial, often making the
difference between success and failure. Choose a definite start date for
your weight-loss program and don't put that date off for anything. Be sure
to account for life circumstances that might hamper your efforts, such as
work or school demands, vacations or relationship problems. You may need to
resolve some issues before starting.
- Start small. It's helpful to plan a series of small
goals that build on each other instead of one big, all-encompassing goal.
Remember that you're in this for the long haul. Anything you undertake too
intensely or too vigorously will quickly become uncomfortable, and you're
more likely to give it up.
- Plan for setbacks. Setbacks are a natural part of
behavior change. Everyone who successfully makes changes in his or her life
has experienced setbacks. Identifying potential roadblocks — a big holiday
meal or office party, for example — and brainstorming specific strategies to
overcome them can help you stay on course or get back on course.
- Evaluate your progress. Review your goals each week.
Were you able to successfully meet your goals last week? Think about what
worked and what didn't. Make plans for how you will reach your goals both
today and during the course of the week.
- Reassess and adjust your goals as needed. Be willing to
change your goals as you make progress in your weight-loss plan. If you
started small, you might be ready to take on larger challenges. Or, you
might find that you need to adjust your goals to better fit your new
lifestyle. If you find that you have to make frequent adjustments downward
or constantly scale back, you may not be setting realistic weight-loss goals
in the first place — head back to tip No. 1.