Have you hit that point where your pants are just way too snug, or you’ve seen a number on the scale you NEVER thought you’d hit… and you’ve decided you seriously need to do something about it…like, NOW? Well, vowing to just “lose weight” isn’t going to get you very far. You need a specific goal and a plan.
Simply saying, “I want to lose weight” is like setting out for some unknown destination without a map. You might lose a pound or two at first just by being a little more careful about what you eat, but eventually, without a plan, you’re likely to fall off the wagon. If you’re really serious about losing weight, you have to set a specific and measurable goal and break down the steps to get there.
I frequently run 30-Day Fitness Challenges to help people get in better shape, and I’ve noticed that the people who follow through with the steps below have the greatest success. If you really want to make a change, this will get you off on the right foot and set you up for long-term results.
1. Set a specific, realistic, and measurable goal.
A goal with measure gives you something to focus on and helps you stay motivated because you can track your progress. A goal like “lose weight” isn’t likely to keep you motivated because you don’t have something specific to reach for or a time frame to reach it in. In addition, a goal like “feel healthier and have more energy” is subjective and can’t be measured.
Instead, apply some type of number or deadline to your goal. This way, you can track your progress and clearly tell whether or not you’re following through. Here are some examples of weight loss goals with
- I have lost 8 pounds in 30 days (2 pounds per week).
- I have decreased my body fat percentage by 5% in X # of days.
- I work out 45 minutes to an hour 5 times per week.
- I have lost 6 inches all over and 2 inches from my waist in X # of days.
2. Address BOTH fitness AND nutrition.
When choosing a weight loss goal, you will have greater success by incorporating BOTH fitness and nutrition. Oftentimes, when people want to lose weight, they focus only on starting a new workout regimen. This is great, but working out is just a small piece of the puzzle. 80% of your results come from your diet, so you can’t ignore your nutrition. I’ve seen people have far greater success losing weight and keeping it off when they set a goal related to both areas.
For instance, if your goal was to lose 8 pounds in 30 days, you might set another “sub-goal” related to working out a particular number of days per week AND a goal to stay under a particular calorie intake target each day for that 30 days.
Here are some other examples of nutrition-based goals you might set:
- Dine out less than X times per month.
- Aim to eat clean 80% of the time.
- Reduce processed foods from your diet.
- Prepare healthy meals and snacks for the week in advance to avoid eating out and splurging.
- Stay under a particular calorie intake target daily.
- Replace one meal per day with a nutritional shake like Shakeology.
3. Break your goal into smaller goals/tasks.
We feel motivated when we are continually making progress toward our goals. Breaking a big goal into smaller bite-sized pieces makes it less overwhelming as well. So, if your goal is to lose 8 pounds in 30 days, break it down into weekly and even daily goals.
In this case, your weekly goal would be to lose 2 pounds per week. Figure out how many calories you typically burn and how many you can afford to take in to create a daily deficit that will result in 2 pounds lost per week.
SIDE NOTE: DO THE MATH. 3,500 calories = 1 pound… so to lose 2 pounds per week, you would need to create a weekly deficit of 7,000 calories and 1,000 calories daily.) LiveStrong My Plate and My Fitness Pal are both great sites and applications for this. I also highly recommend using a calorie-monitoring device like the Bodybugg or CORE by Body Media.
In the example above a daily goal might be to stay under your calorie intake target for the day and burn an extra 500-700 calories per day working out.
In addition to this, consider setting small health related goals and tasks to complete along the way that will help you develop healthier habits overall. Here are some examples:
- Toss the junk and replace it with healthier options.
- Take a walk on your lunch break.
- Pack your lunch.
- Prepare healthy meals and snacks for the week in advance on a Sunday.
Once you have set a measurable goal that covers all aspects of weight loss, and you’ve broken it down, you will be on your way! Rather than setting a goal just to “lose weight” and hoping your efforts to eat a little healthier and fit in an occasional workout will pay off, you’ll have broken down exactly what you need to do and have an action plan in place. Just take it one step at a time!