When you are preparing to go on vacation, how do you think about the destination? Do you think about it casually, deciding that you’ll drive in the general direction until you reach something interesting? Probably not. Chances are you put more thought into where you are going instead of the experience of flying or driving there. Sure, the journey is part of the experience—but it’s the destination that you are working towards.
Now, think about how this relates to your weight loss program. As you embark on your weight loss journey, it helps to have a clearly defined goal in mind.
A weight loss goal provides context to your weight loss efforts. A well-defined goal can encourage you and keep you motivated, providing you with a constant and clear understanding of how much farther you have to go.
But just as a well-defined goal can prove helpful, a poor goal can hinder your weight loss program. Goals that are too high can cause you to grow frustrated or feel let down. Likewise, goals that are too low won’t push you far enough, leaving you wanting more.
The ideal goal is somewhere in the middle. Your weight loss goal should be within reach, but should still be challenging. It has to be realistic, but not easy. In short, your goals should be SMART:
Here is an example of a healthy goal: I want to fit into an old pair of jeans. To do this, I need to lose 20 pounds. Losing just over 2 pounds per week on an OPTIFAST program, I can achieve this in three months.
This goal is specific. It has a specific outcome – fitting into an old pair of jeans – and the goal itself is realistic. This person isn’t hoping to measure up to a magazine photo of an airbrushed model—this individual wants to be as healthy and fit as he or she has been in the past, perhaps before a pregnancy or another life event that prompted weight gain.
The goal is also realistic and attainable, accounting for steady and moderate weight loss under physician supervision. Most importantly, the goal is time bound. There is a concrete deadline to work toward, against which to measure progress on a weekly basis.
Your weight loss program is a journey like any other. As you move forward, keep your eye on your goals. They can help motivate and encourage you as you encounter obstacles along the way.