How To Lose Weight
Master the art of goal-setting to turn your dream of losing weight into reality. Most of us don’t do it, but planning really works!
A well-known study of a group of US students in the 1950s found that only three per cent of the graduates wrote a set of goals for their lives.
A follow-up survey some twenty years later discovered that the goal-setting students were worth more financially than the other 97% put together. You may say, well, life’s not all about money. No, it’s not – but the goal setters were also healthier and happier in their relationships than the others.
Goal-setting is as relevant to weight loss as it is to life plans, but it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. Simply saying ‘I want to lose weight’ may well be true and seem to be a goal, but it won’t get you very far. Why? Because goals need to be SMART: that’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-framed. Put simply, by analysing how to reach your end goal, you increase your chances of achieving it.
OK, let’s do it. Get some paper and a pen and start writing.
Be Specific – Write down how much weight you want to lose. Is there also a particular reason you want to lose this amount, for a special occasion, or is it for health reasons? Perhaps you’ve always been overweight and really want to do something about it. It’s important to think around the reasons you want to slim down as part of the ‘why’ of your goal. Once it’s clear in your head, you’ll be in control and focused.
Measurable – How will you measure you weight loss? By weighing yourself regularly or by dropping a clothing size? Or will you just go by the way you look or feel? How often will you take stock of your achievements? There’s no right or wrong answer here – it’s just about what works for you.
Attainable – Question yourself as to whether this goal is really what you want. You could think about it in terms of your commitment and enthusiasm. If you’re not 100% happy about your goal, maybe you need to revisit the specifics to review whether it is too ambitious or too challenging for you to feel confident about it. A goal does have to stretch you, but if it seems unattainable you’ll become downhearted pretty quickly. Of course, we all have different definitions of what’s attainable and what isn’t – it depends on factors such as your personality, confidence and experience.
Realistic – With the best will in the world, if you are 165 cm (5 ft 5 in) and pear-shaped, no diet is going to turn you into Aussie model/actress/business woman Elle McPherson – especially if you’re a man! Make sure your goal is realistic. Think about your goal in terms of being the best you can be.
Time-framed – A time frame keeps your goal on track. Set a start point, such as ‘I will start my healthy eating weight loss plan on Thursday’ and give yourself an end time too, such as ‘I will lose five kilos by my summer holiday.’ I think it also makes sense to include a couple of time frames in your overall goal representing short and longer term achievements. This helps with motivation. So you could add ‘I will start exercising three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from next week’ and so on. Use positive goal-getting language when writing down what you’re going to achieve. There’s no room here for ‘might’ and ‘ought to’.
By now your goal should be looking so clear that you can reach out and touch it. I hope you feel all revved up and ready to go. One other thing: do remember to congratulate yourself every step of the way, whether it is with little (non-fattening) rewards or simply a mental pat on the back.