What You Should Think About Before You Set Weight Loss Goals
Weight loss goals are abundant this time of year, and while goals are great to have, starting them with the right knowledge is essential. Even more essential is the view you hold of your body, even before you begin your weight loss journey. Fuel your journey with love for your body, not hate. Wanting your body to be healthy and able to do the things you love will get you far better, longer-lasting results than if you want to change your body because you hate it. This is not to say you always need to love the way your body looks, but find happiness with it along the way and learn to appreciate the things it is able to do for you, even if you are not where you want to be weight-wise.
Now, here are six tips for developing and starting your weight loss goals.
Focus on long-term goals
When you set goals for weight loss, set goals that will create a healthy lifestyle. Developing lifestyle habits will not only help you now, but in the future. Research has continually proven that short-term “yo-yo” diets, or a diet you continuously start and stop again, often causes you to gain more weight. Healthy, long-lasting weight loss means having a lifestyle that includes long-term changes in exercise and eating habits.
If you have a goal to drop 10 pounds a week you may not be successful in keeping off the weight in the long term. Studies show that those who lose steadily and gradually keep the weight off more successfully. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week over the long run for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
Set small goals
Having a long-term goal is essential for being motivated in lifestyle changes. But only focusing on a big goal can be unmotivating when you believe you are moving too slowly. So, break down your long-term goal into smaller, easier-to-reach goals to keep you accountable over an extended period of time. For example, if you are looking to lose 20 pounds in five months, aim to lose five pounds in the first month, four pounds in the second month, and about three-and-a-half pounds each month for the next three months. This breaks up your goal into five smaller goals that will not only keep you on track, but keep you motivated.
It is not all about weight loss
Weight loss can be your focus, but it should not be the only thing you are paying attention to. Exercising and eating healthier is amazing for your health, even if you do not do it to lose weight. Set goals that go beyond weight loss, focusing on what your body can do and the ways it feels better. Goals could be to cook meals full of whole, healthy foods, completing a 5K, or feeling confident in an outfit you have always wanted to wear, no matter your weight.
Make sure to track your progress
Track your weight loss progress, but not just on the scale. Numbers can be deceiving and the number on the scale does not mean everything. Plus, it can be incredibly discouraging. On top of tracking your weight on a scale, take progress pictures, take measurements, and measure your body fat percentage. Your brain can trick you into thinking you are not making progress, so these tactics will let you know you are making progress even when your weight may be slower to change.
Do not be afraid to adjust your goals
Your goals can shift over time. For example, if you set a goal to lose 15 pounds but find yourself happy at 10 pounds down, change your goal to focus on maintaining your weight loss. Or, if you have a big event you want to be more in shape for, adjust your goals to include more exercise and healthy eating.
As a reference, this is approximately how long it takes to burn off a few common meals and snacks:
- Cheeseburger and fries: 141 minutes on the elliptical
- Chips and queso: 130 minutes of swimming
- Slice of pepperoni pizza: 272 consecutive burpees
- Bagel and cream cheese: 51 minutes of hiking
- 1 cup of ice cream: Walk for 46 minutes