It’s not enough to simply strive to eat less or move more if you want to achieve weight loss. Dr. Selvi Rajagopal, a doctor who specializes in obesity medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that it’s crucial for people to have a clear, tangible action plan for weight loss that goes beyond the usual advice of moving more or eating less.
After all, research has shown that proper goal setting is a more effective weight loss method as compared to broad or vague pieces of health advice.
There are many reasons why it’s better to set specific goals than make vague plans for weight loss. To illustrate, here’s how proper goal setting can benefit your journey:
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Serves as a guide for your weight loss plan
Having vague goals can make your journey difficult because you don’t have specific targets to strive towards. As such, it’s crucial for you to set specific goals, which help you narrow down the steps that you need to take toward your goals.
To illustrate, you can use a body mass index calculator to compute your body fat percentage and identify specific steps that can help you lower that percentage in weeks. For example, you can set a specific goal of lowering your body fat percentage by one number every two weeks, then identify which workout programs or diet plans are effective in helping you reach that goal.
Sustains your motivation for weight loss
It will be easy to hit your specific goals, especially if you are motivated by the right goals. Unfortunately, most people just use weight loss as their sole motivator rather than setting goals related to other stimulating factors.
Though the thought of having a slimmer body can be encouraging for some, you’ll have more motivation for weight loss when you set goals that aren’t related to your weight. Goals that are related to physical activities or even to your health tend to be more motivating over time because you’ll be able to measure more signs of progress in your fitness journey.
For example, setting goals related to a new sport can motivate you a lot because you can focus on internal rewards related to the activity and count your weight loss as well as your skills as signs of progress.
Lowers your attrition rate in goal execution
You can also make more specific goals by setting proper timelines for your goals. These timelines have to be realistic so that you won’t easily get discouraged from losing weight.
A research study revealed that people on digital weight loss programs have a high likelihood of attrition and lower weight loss when they set immediate goals for themselves. Meanwhile, study participants who made goals for the future were less likely to stop the program and, therefore, more likely to lose weight.
As such, you have to create realistic timelines for your weight loss goals in the future to give yourself enough chances to reach this goal. You’re more likely to be motivated to reach your next goals, especially once you hit your timeline for the previous ones.
Reduces feelings of self-blame and failure
Your goals can also be more realistic, especially if you make room for adjustments. You may experience setbacks or even temporarily lose your motivation during the weight loss process, which is why it’s important to make your goals flexible.
In fact, a study revealed that the risk of treatment attrition at 12 months increased by 12% for every unit increase in expected BMI loss due to the negative feelings that stem from not hitting those goals. As such, you should avoid the negative impact of feelings of self-blame and failure by making your targets adjustable. To illustrate, you can give yourself one more week to hit your target BMI number or adjust to a longer workout length.
Your weight loss goals can make or break your progress. Thus, you have to set the right parameters for your goals to ensure that you won’t lose your motivation or get discouraged during the process.