How to create SMART weight loss goals and achieve them

February 2, 2021
SMART weight loss goals

The following content was authored with the help of Population Health team, providing programs and services that help people in Monterey County live their best lives.

Losing weight is a common New Year’s resolution, and while the U.S. News and World Report says that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by mid-February, we’re here to tell you not to get discouraged. It’s up to you to make sure that this year is different, and it starts by having a plan. We’re going to talk about creating SMART weight loss goals to help you stay focused, lose weight and enjoy the process as you go.

What are SMART weight loss goals and why do they matter?

Simply stating “I want to lose weight” is too broad. SMART goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Timely. An example of a good SMART goal is: “I will go on a walk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays around my neighborhood for 20 minutes in order to lose 3lbs by February 23.”

Setting SMART goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge and helps you to organize your time and your resources to help you make the very most of your life.

How do SMART goals help with weight loss and why do the work?

Setting long-term goals helps you focus on the big picture. Overall, they can shift your thinking from simply being on a diet to making lifestyle changes. But long-term goals may seem too difficult or too far away. You may benefit from breaking down a long-term goal into a series of smaller, short-term goals.

Examples of types of goals include:

  • Long-term goal – lose 15 pounds in three months
  • Short-term goals – break your long-term goals for each month, perhaps six pounds for the first month and four pounds for each of the last two months because early weight loss is often faster.
  • Process goals – walk 30 minutes a day, and if you currently don’t walk regularly at all, you may want to walk 15 minutes a day for two weeks and then add five minutes to your walk each week.

With SMART goals, you can be sure that you’re setting yourself attainable and achievable benchmarks that can lead to your development and success, or that of those around you. Your goals should conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant, and Timely. Outside of that, the goals can be made to suit your own needs and expectations, depending on what you want to gain from them. They should both help provide you with a clear purpose and lead to successful goal completion that feels straightforward and stress-free.

How do you lose weight?

Start by setting a goal weight. Nutrition and physical activity are the two main ways to achieve weight loss. Take a look at what you are eating, how much you are eating and when you are eating. Add more fruits and vegetables daily, choose low-calorie snacks, limit processed foods, limit sugary foods and/or dessert and cut back on high-calorie beverages. Also, avoid late-night snacking, eating in front of the TV, and try practicing mindful eating. Keep track of what you are eating by meal prepping and food logging. A good resource for meal planning and portion control is MyPlate.gov.

When it comes to physical activity, some is always better than none! Adding daily activity can be as simple as taking the stairs, going for a walk at lunch or jogging in place while watching TV. You can also find local exercise classes. Many places in Monterey County are offering online fitness classes, and Aspire Health Plan members, are eligible for the Silver&Fit® exercise and healthy aging program.

It’s also important not to forget the effects of stress on our health including raised cortisol levels and behavioral changes including overeating, emotional eating, exercising less often and loss of energy. While we may not directly be able to affect how much cortisol is floating around our bodies, we can certainly impact how we handle stress by implementing activities and routines to help reduce stress and ensure that we make good choices, get enough sleep and move.

How can I find support in my weight loss journey and why is this support important?

Support can help keep us accountable, motivated and feel cared about through the process. It can be emotional support, practical or inspiring. Support can come in so many different forms. It can come from our spouses, children or other family members, friends, our physicians, health coaches, or even a support group.

Aspire Health Plan members have access to a Health Coaching program. If you have any questions about this program along or any additional resources for weight loss, health and wellness, do not hesitate to contact Member Services at (855) 570-1600. TTY users call 711.

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