Setting realistic goals - including weight, exercise, food and psychological goals - before you begin a weight loss plan is essential to a successful program.
- Talk to your physician when you are setting your goals - he or she can help determine what is safe for you.
- Be specific when setting your goals. For instance, determine how much weight you will lose, as opposed to simply resolving to lose weight. (To come up with a final goal that's healthy and appropriate, do a web search to determine your body mass index and to interpret your body fat percentage.)
- Determine your daily, intermediate and big-picture goals before you begin your weight loss program. This will help you work realistically and gradually toward your final goals, as well as help you to gauge your progress.
- Begin by setting some small daily goals. Your weight goal might be to lose 1 pound per week. If you hardly exercised in the past, you might want to walk around your neighborhood for 20 minutes every day. (If you like, split it into a 10-minute walk in the morning and another in the evening.) Your nutritional goal may be to reduce your fat intake. Your psychological goal may be to write in a journal every day.
- Establish intermediate goals that are a little more ambitious than your original goals. For instance, two weeks after you begin to meet your daily 20-minute walk goal, extend your goal to a daily 1-hour walk; start eating smaller portions at every meal; and seek counseling for any self-esteem issues you might have.
- Determine big-picture goals; this includes the total amount of weight you'd like to lose by the end of your program. Make a commitment to jog or run every day to maintain your weight and health; learn how you can shop, cook and eat as nutritiously as possible; and take up an activity that you think you have a knack for - this can keep up your self-esteem.
- Set time frames for your daily, intermediate and big-picture goals. As you progress from one to the next, reward yourself. Go shopping, get a facial and take a weekend trip. You deserve it!
If you have any questions or concerns, contact a physician or other health care professional before engaging in any activity related to health and diet. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.