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Are Your Weight Loss Goals SMART?

shutterstock_28180312 scale man resizedBelieve it or not, beach weather is just around the corner. This is the time when we try to shed those pounds we may have gained over the winter season.

So you’ve decided you are going to eat healthier and exercise more to get back into shape, but what does that actually mean? Where do you go from here?

Using the SMART goal method will help you set goals that will work for you.

Why set goals?

Goals help you track your progress in your weight loss journey and give you a plan for how you will get results. Without goals, it will be very difficult for you to stay focused and motivated.

Set SMART weight loss goals

To get the most out of your efforts, you should establish SMART weight loss goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely.

A specific goal needs to answer “who, what, when, where and why?” This is not a specific goal: “I’m going to exercise.” This is a specific goal: “I’m going to walk in the morning before work.”

Your specific goal needs to be measurable to track your progress. If you are unsure whether your goal is measurable, ask the question “how?” How much time will I work out? How many steps will I take? How will I know when it is accomplished?

An example of a measurable goal would be to plan to walk for 30 minutes before work every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Be sure when identifying your weight loss goals that they are actionable and realistic. You must be sure that you have the abilities, attitudes and financial capacity to reach your goals and that you are setting goals that realistically you are willing and able to do.

Lastly, your weight loss goals should be timely. This means that you should set a date when you will reach a certain achievement toward your goal. This will give you a sense of urgency and accountability toward your weight loss or health goals.

Find your personal motivators

Staying motivated is always a challenge, so find the motivators that inspire you personally. Visualize the new you. Write down the reasons why you want to become healthier and be sure to include reasons not related to weight, such as being able to play with your kids, running a 5k or increasing your quality of life.

Make sure you measure your success in other ways besides the scale. Try measuring your body fat percentage or your waist, arm and thigh circumference. Try checking to see if clothes are fitting differently or if you’re fitting into your old clothes. Pay attention to whether everyday activities are easier to do.

Using other ways to measure your progress will keep you motivated even if the scale doesn’t validate all of your hard work.

Lastly, find ways to reward yourself without food, such as going shopping, reading a book or watching a movie.

Goal-setting will not only help you start your journey to a healthier you, it will carry you every step of the way. So start making your SMART goals today.

Last Updated: February 11, 2022

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About Author: Adam Schafer, MS, RD, LDN

Adam Schafer is a registered dietitian at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, Ill. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics from Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., and his Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. In his free time.

Adam enjoys any type of exercising, whether indoors or outdoors, taking fitness classes, lifting weights or doing cardio. He also enjoys reading books and playing a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball and backyard activities such as bags, bocce ball and badminton.

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Categories: Diet & Exercise, Preventive Health