How to set goals for long-term weight loss

Hit refresh on the second-half of 2017 and renew your goals.

The most sensible approach to losing excess weight is to make small, health-based changes to your eating and exercise habits. When making these changes, what you need to ask yourself is, can you sustain these changes both while you’re losing weight, and while you’re maintaining your weight loss for the long-term?

Now that we’re in the latter half of the year, it’s an excellent time to take a breath and plan for the rest of 2017. These simple concepts will ensure your weight-loss goals are realistic, and will produce healthy long-term results.

Set realistic goals
It’s important to set yourself realistic goals with an idea of what you’d like to achieve in mind. If you overburden yourself with an unattainable list of goals, you’re likely to set yourself up for frustration and disappointment.

To ensure a thorough approach to setting your goals, include a variety of aspects of your life. For example:
Extrinsic e.g. Eating habits, food choices, exercise, shopping, reading food labels, health outcomes, etc.
Intrinsic e.g. Comfort eating, stress management, self-esteem, negative thought patterns, assertiveness, etc.

It’s also going to be easier if you keep your resolution specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For example, when setting healthy goals for yourself, instead of saying “I’m going to eat healthy,” try “I will aim to be healthy by bringing myself a nutritious lunch to work each day and switching to herbal tea instead of milky coffees.” Or instead of “I’m going to start exercising,” try “I will walk to the train station every weekday instead of driving, and go for a 20-minute walk in my lunch break.”

It’s also a good idea to write your goals down and put them up in a prominent place (fridge, bathroom mirror) as a reminder of your target.

Stay focused on your actions, not your progress
Too many people approach their health with an all-or-nothing attitude. Good health should stem from the aim for continuous healthy lifestyle choices. By making small, positive decisions every day, you’ll be on your way to a healthier you. Small things like drinking a glass of water instead of soft drink, or choosing salad instead of chips at a restaurant will move you closer to your goal. Use these daily positive actions as your benchmark for getting closer to your objectives.

Keep a record
It can be very rewarding to see your daily activities documented when you’re trying to implement habitual change. If your resolution is to eat five serves of vegetables each day or drink eight glasses of water, keep a notebook and tally up your daily intake or use an online diary such as MyFitnessPal. If your goal is to increase your daily activity, don’t forget to put on your activity tracker each morning and track your steps using your online account. It will give you a buzz to know hitting your daily goal is getting you closer to your long-term objective!

Integrate physical activity
If you know you’re going to find it difficult to fit exercise into your schedule, utilise as many opportunities as you can to naturally incorporate it into your day. Some suggestions include:
• Make a promise to yourself to always take the stairs rather than the lift.
• Implement an email-free day at work where you walk to your colleagues’ offices to talk.
• Walk to the shops on a Sunday morning for the milk rather than driving.

This incidental exercise really adds up over a day to increase your daily physical activity.

Reward yourself
Develop a system of non-food related rewards for behaviours that support your goals. Don’t wait until the very end – set milestones and reward yourself as you go.
Overall, remember your goals are an ongoing process, not an overnight transformation. Don’t let another six months slip by.