A SMART Approach to Weight Loss

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SMART Approach to Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, it’s easy to focus only on the number of pounds you need to lose without much thought given to lasting “lifestyle” changes. Successful weight loss is not so much about a number on the scale, it’s about adopting a lifestyle and setting goals that are based on changing the way you eat, exercise and behave. One way to do that is to use the SMART approach in creating a weight loss plan:

Specific:

Set goals that define specific behavioral changes. Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight,” redefine it and make it specific by saying, “I’m going to cut my calorie intake by 250 calories a day and exercise for 30 minutes a day.”

Measurable:

Set goals that are measurable and create ways to document progress. A measurable goal might be that you will lose 10% of your current body weight. Documenting progress could be in the form of keeping a food journal and exercise log. Measurable goals and documentation provides valuable feedback as you are progressing towards your goals and will increase your sense of accomplishment and motivation.

Action Oriented:

Clearly state the action that needs to be accomplished in order to achieve your goals. This allows you to actively work towards attaining them. For example, jogging for 30 minutes a day at a speed of 5 mph is an action oriented goal.

Realistic:

If your goals are not realistic, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Design your weight loss program by creating multiple short-term goals that are easily within reach. These will ultimately help you achieve your long-term goal. With each short-term goal success, you will gain the confidence and motivation that your weight loss goal can be achieved. If you’re having difficulty accomplishing a specific goal, make an adjustment or two so that it is more realistically attainable.

Timed:

Set a specific time frame to accomplish your goals. A series of timed short-term goals will serve as stepping stones to realize your long term goal. A time frame is also beneficial when it comes to needing to make some readjustments to goals that are not being met.

Based on the SMART approach, a simple weight loss program could look like this for a woman who is 5′ 7″ tall and weighs 171 pounds.

Long-term Goal:

  • Lose 12 pounds over the next 3 months for a BMI of 24.9. (Specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, timed) See Fitness Partner’s BMI calculator.

Short-term Goal #1:

  • Over the next month (timed), lose 4 pounds (specific, measurable, action oriented and realistic) by cutting calorie intake to 1700 calories/day and briskly walking 30 minutes a day. (Specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic)
  • Track progress by keeping a food journal and documenting duration of exercise sessions each day. Weigh in every Monday morning and note weight in daily journal. (Action oriented and measurable documentation to provide feedback)

Short-term Goal #2:

  • Based on feedback and progress from last month, make any necessary adjustments required to accomplish the same goal as last month.
  • An additional change this month will be to add 30 minutes of strength training twice a week at the gym using 10-12 weight machines that target each major muscle group. (Specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, timed) Strength training sessions will be noted in daily journal. (Action oriented and measurable documentation to provide feedback)

Short-term Goal #3

  • Based on feedback and progress from last month, make any necessary adjustments required to accomplish the same goal as last month.
  • An additional change this month will be to increase duration of brisk walks to 45 minutes a day and increase strength training sessions to 3 per week. (Specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, timed) All will be documented in daily journal. (Action oriented and measurable documentation to provide feedback)

 

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