New Year, Healthier You: 5 Tips for Setting and Maintaining Weight Loss Goals

It’s that time of year again—the time when the approaching New Year provides inspiration to set goals for weight loss and maintaining improved health.

For anyone who has set a New Year’s resolution and let it lapse (IE – all of us), we likely know that actioning these resolutions can be easier said than done. So how do you maximize your chances of reaching your objectives, without creating goals that are vague, unrealistic, or too ambitious?

Set yourself up for success by following these tips when setting your weight loss goals or your plan to maintain your healthier lifestyle:

Acknowledge where you are without judgment

If your weight or health is not what you want it to be, don’t waste time beating yourself up about past decisions or mistakes. You’ve decided to make changes to improve your health and that’s great. When you know better, you can do better.

Find your true motivation

Why do you want to lose weight or continue your healthier lifestyle? Make sure losing weight is your goal, not what someone else wants you to do. Write down your reasons for wanting to lose weight and get fit so you can refer back to them later.

Set SMART goals

SMART goals are:

Specific: What will you do, when will you do it, and for how long? A goal of “I will walk for at least 20 minutes every day” is more effective than “I will work out more.”Measurable: When your goals are measurable, you can monitor and track your progress. Some examples of measurable goals include “I will eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day,” or “I will walk 10,000 steps a day.”Attainable: Be honest with yourself regarding your time and emotional commitment. Realistically, will you be able to lose enough weight so you can fit into the clothing you wore in college? Perhaps not, but losing just 10 percent of your body weight is enough to improve your health.Relevant: Remember when you considered your motivation for losing weight? Make sure your weight loss goals are in line with your motivation.Time-bound: Give your goals a deadline. To keep it interesting, set a mix of short- and long-term goals, ranging from as short a period as a couple of weeks, all the way up to six months to a year. A long-term goal might be to walk or run a 10K six months from now. Set short-term goals to help you reach your long-term goal, or to experiment with different eating habits or workouts.

Set process goals as well as outcome goals

An outcome goal is what you hope to achieve in the long run, such as losing a specific amount of weight. A process goal is a step you can take that will lead to your achieving your outcome goal.

Reward yourself for your efforts

It takes discipline to make changes to your lifestyle, to start saying no to things that harm your health and yes to things that strengthen it. And while that can be satisfying, it doesn’t hurt to reward yourself for your hard work and diligence in the meantime! Choose a reward that’s meaningful to you, such as a new pair of yoga pants to make working out more fun, or some guilt-free time to relax with your favorite magazine or a good book.

When setting your weight and fitness goals, remember small daily actions add up. Focus on building healthy habits and behaviors that will positively affect your health and weight, and before you know it, you’ll be a newer, healthier you.