If your New Year resolution this year was to lose weight, how are you doing so far? How many times have you resolved to lose weight at the start of each new year and the result just didn’t turn out like you had hoped? The key to making this year’s fitness resolution a successful one is to establish objectives that are S.M.A.R.T.E.R. than before. In other words, your goal is…
Specific and Sets a Simple Health Habit: Oftentimes, goals are too vague and/or too complicated a process. “I will lose weight” does not focus on precise details. And when the process to lose weight becomes too complex, such as “drinking a freshly made veggie protein shake three times a day” when you’re out in the field all day, then the likelihood that you’ll stick with your goal is pretty slim.
Measurable and Meaningful: First, losing weight should be YOUR desire and not that of someone else and your goal should have measurable objectives. Be sure you have concrete criteria for measuring your progress. Aim for quantifiable results. It’s easier to assess whether your objective has been met if you commit to a specific number.
When losing weight, use several different measures to evaluate your progress. Don’t just rely on how many pounds you’ve lost. The scale doesn’t reflect a change in body composition. It cannot differentiate between fat, muscle and water weight. Use a combination of measures, such as inches around your belly, waist-to-hip ratios, % body fat, or even pants size, to evaluate whether you’ve met your objective.
Attainable and Appropriate: Failure to achieve weight loss goals is often the result of being too ambitious at the outset and forgetting to allow for limits on your time, energy and resources. Successfully achieving your goal comes down to setting a goal that’s realistic for you and actually attainable.
Realistic with Ready Resources: You can do anything you set your mind to doing, but it’s important to honestly evaluate your ability and commitment to making your dream come true. To help you along, make sure you have available resources to support your pursuit, whether it’s a friend, spouse, weight loss program, trainer, or fitness equipment. If you’re the type that needs social support, share your goal with a friend who can also help you measure your progress.
Some professional resources for you to consider:
Physician: When starting an exercise program, check with your doctor first –especially if you have existing risk factors.
Exercise Specialist: You need to know how to exercise correctly with the proper body mechanics and the appropriate frequency, intensity, duration, and modality or you risk an injury that can quickly put a wedge in your weight loss endeavor. If you have a heart condition or diabetes, consult with a clinical exercise physiologist who specializes in treating people challenged with chronic diseases.
Dietician: Be wary of trendy or crash diets. Talk to a registered dietician especially if you have a medical condition, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, or find a qualified nutrition resource.
Every year a new diet book promises the formula for weight loss, but use common sense and look at the long-term picture. Embark on a lifetime eating plan. A diet that you can’t sustain for the rest of your life won’t maintain your weight loss.
Time-based: Be certain you have a time limit and establish a target date. A time-sensitive goal creates a sense of urgency and it’s an effective motivator to take action. And when you act, you increase the likelihood that you’ll meet your objective. Without a time frame and a commitment to a deadline, your weight loss goal is just a wish.
Enjoyable: Pick healthier foods and exercises that you enjoy. So if you hate to run, don’t. An exercise program should be sustainable, not torture. Try walking instead, or spinning, yoga, Pilates or Zumba. If you opt for a personal trainer, work with several different ones to see whose style/personality you like and whose methodology you find most effective. If you prefer solitude versus social interaction during your workouts, find an activity that supports your preference.
Fit Tip: Remember… You can start losing weight at any time of the year and on any day of the week — not just on Mondays! Every day is a new day. With a dream and a plan, you can accomplish your goal. To help refine your plan, fill out the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Weight Loss Worksheet.