Weight Loss Support - goal setting strategies

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10-18-2004, 05:26 PM
Hi all,

I am into my latest wl effort just over a month and am trying to set some goals in order to be the most helpful to me. When I started this wl effort, I did so because of a sore tooth that prevented me from chewing easily for afew days, then just went with it, and now, weeks later, I am really into it. But, because of my odd start this time, I did not set up more than just a general goal to lose some of this extra weight. Now I want it all, and intend to get it.

Afew years ago I read something from Joyce Brothers that was very helpful. She said goals can be very helpful. And there are several types of goals. She said there is a phenomonon that people work harder to reach their goal when the goal is closer, so she suggested setting many smaller goals in order to be reaching intermediate goals more often, and thus accellerate the speed of reaching the overall goal. This is what I am planning to do. So, I am trying to set a number of goals, both weight and time ones.

My starting weight this time was about 215 (214, but I want to make the math easier). My first intermeditate goal is 180. 35 pounds. When I draw a time line on graph paper at one pound/week, I will get to 180 on May first. That for now is my major, long term goal. While I do wish to go lower, I will deal with that after I get to that weight.

I notice those who follow ww seem to have 10% intermediate goals. That sounds good to me so my mini, sub goals will be 3.5 pounds - I will get a gold star for each rung. I also have weekly goals of time. As in weekly weigh-ins monday morning. I also have a secondary goal of getting to 199, pychological goal. And to see how low I can get for my Christmastime birthday, and the New Years.

That gives me lots of smaller, distinct goals to work towards. Even at close to 60 years of age, I still like working for gold stars. This time around, I have already earned two of them for my 7+ pound loss this time around. :dizzy:


10-18-2004, 05:55 PM
The idea of small goals is terrific -- it really helped me when I started, especially since I had a LOT to lose. However you slice up the math is up to you. Ten percent at a time is good because losing that amount seems to be a turning point in terms of health issues; also, we tend to lose more slowly as we get closer to goal, so having progressively smaller goals makes sense. Some people like the 10-pounds-at-a-time route. I had "milestone" goals -- weights and/or sizes that had some sort of personal significance. Different numbers mean different things to different people, so whatever method you choose is really just up to you.

There are two things I'd strongly suggest: First, be sure to have goals that don't have anything to do with weight. You could have some weekly behavioral goals, things that have to do with food -- trying a new vegetable every week; having one high-C fruit per day; using only healthy fats, etc. You could also have activity-related goals -- wearing a pedometer and gradually increasing your steps-per-day, trying a new exercise activity like yoga or pilates, etc. Other goals might be to journal every day, or take a walk when you feel stressed, or spend a few minutes every day in meditation and affirmation. In this way your emphasis is more on the complete lifestyle picture than on the "weight loss." Sometimes, despite all the good lifestyle changes you've made, the scale just doesn't budge for a while. If all of your goals have to do with the scale, then you can feel like a failure even though you are continuing to make remarkable progress on the inside.

Second, because our bodies respond in an unpredictable manner to increased activity and decreased food, you can't set goals that are time-related. You can make a chart that says you're going to lose a pound a week, but that's a wish, not a goal. You might lose more than that to start, then less at the end. Maybe it'll average out to a pound per week, but maybe you'll hit a plateau, or get sick, or gain a little muscle through exercising. The scale really isn't your friend, especially when you marry it to the calendar. You want to set up goals that are very very attainable. What happens if you set a time-related weight goal and you don't meet it? You may have followed your program to the letter and lost weight, but if you fall short of that deadline, it can turn a resounding success into an emotional failure.

So, overall, hurrah for you! Just be sure to have ways to acknowledge your successes in your behavioral and mental changes as well as the physical.

10-18-2004, 06:42 PM
Thanks for the suggestions Funniegrrl, they are very good. I especially like: <<First, be sure to have goals that don't have anything to do with weight. You could have some weekly behavioral goals, things that have to do with food -- trying a new vegetable every week; having one high-C fruit per day; using only healthy fats, etc. You could also have activity-related goals -- >> . I will set afew of those up. To start, make one batch of homemade soup/week. And I like the new veggie/week one too. And some exercise related ones too after some thought.

While I agree in spirit with the idea that weight/time line goals are not the best and can backfire, I made the one for May 1 for a specific reason. I am right now very into my weight loss efforts - food/exercise/psychological/etc, and tend to want results today, NOW. (another personal flaw, LOL.) But I have also played this game long enough to know time and committment is what it takes to be successful, and that results overnight are not realistic. My reason for placing a wl goal (wish) of 35# for next May 1, more than 6 months away, was to displace expectations for significant success until further down the calendar, and remove it from daily expectations. The scale has enough power without me giving it even more. And neither that date nor weight is cast in stone, just pencil. I have been able to remind myself several times already today of this by simply saying 'may1st', and that reminds me the task requires effort and committment over time. Right now my calendar timeline is a disposable tool, not an inflexible commandment. If/when this tool ceases to work, I will toss it aside. And, with your reminder, I will be willing to do this even more easily. I have ignored them in the past for the exact reasons you mention. But right now its helping so it will stay.

I firmly believe in trying new things, continuing to do what works, and discarding what doesnt. Problems can be too complex, and life too short, to keep doing what doesnt work.


10-18-2004, 06:48 PM
I see your reasons for the time goal -- it's almost the opposite of what most people are trying to accomplish with deadlines! I think you have the right attitude. You are VERY smart to realize that not every strategy works for every person and that you have to be willing to change tactics in mid-stream when something isn't working. So, more power to you!!

10-19-2004, 07:36 PM
Thanks Funniegrrl. While I will keep the graph over time, I am thinking of removing the one pound/week weight line from it. It is in very light pencil. No reason to cause myself any more angst than the regular wl process can bring up anyway. As long as I make progress over time, that is all that matters. I will know soon enough if I have to tweak what I do without having an oppressive time/weight line super-imposed. May 1st is the main message anyway.

As to non-weight goals, these are the ones for this week:

-Make lean soup containing lots of veggies once/week
-eat soup at least once/day
-try one new lean food/recipe each week
-Some form of body movement daily

Anyone else setting up non-weight goals for the week?


10-20-2004, 12:36 PM
My goal for next week is to either attend my first Pilates class, or use my Pilates DVD at least once.