Winning Weight-Loss Goals

Weightloss 315

If you are inspired by participants on “America’s Biggest Loser” but struggle to achieve your own weight-loss ambitions, it is time to set (and reach) your own winning weight-loss goals. Moms often fall into many traps: Nibbling off their child’s plate, forfeiting personal time to exercise for time with the family and running through the drive-thru for fast food.

Many people are unrealistic about weight loss, says Stefanie Barthmare, a psychotherapist at The Methodist Weight Management Center in Houston. “By unrealistic, I don’t mean that they try to lose too much weight. I mean that they approach weight loss using the same worn-out approach that has failed them in the past. They adopt rigid strategies – like cutting out all flour, sugar and carbohydrates – that just don’t make sense.” Losing weight is hard. There must be an alignment between your goals, life circumstances and weight-loss strategies, she says.

It is best to be very specific and set attainable goals, says ACE-certified personal trainer Franklin Antoian. Losing one to two pounds per week is safe, he says. That may not sound like a lot, but over time, small losses add up big. Remember: The journey to significant weight loss starts with a single pound. You can lose 60 pounds or more if you work backward and set attainable shorter-term goals. Losing five pounds by Feb. 1 is doable. Achieving each milestone gives you the confidence and motivation to work toward the next.

To ensure continued motivation, take a learning approach, says Jeni Burnette, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Richmond. Commit to cooking and eating healthier foods and learning to accurately count calories. And besides, healthy, balanced meal plans are good for all members of your family.

Learn new exercises. Study exercise role models and practice good form so you do not get injured. Research shows people who adopt mastery goals instead of focusing exclusively on performance are more likely to persist and achieve their goals. Learning the skills to sustain weight-loss is more important that shedding weight fast and furiously. You want to keep it off for good.

Don’t underestimate the influence of environment. If you are home with small children all day, social isolation and kid-favorite, high-calorie foods may sabotage your best intentions. Getting to the gym five days a week might be unrealistic. What is your schedule like? Does the gym offer child care at the times you’ll need it? Take a fearless look at your situation and plan accordingly. If you don’t follow through, whatever plan you adopt won’t work. Allow yourself to change things up when you get bored, Barthmare coaches. Do what is fun and keeps your interest.

Track success. Experts recommend that people monitor their weight on a weekly basis. “Weigh in on the same day, at the same time, on the same scale,” says Antoian. Weight can fluctuate by as much as 3 percent per day, so weighing yourself more often only sets you up for anxiety. And use other strategies to assess your progress. Track the number of workouts you finished each week or the distance you can run without stopping. If fitting into a smaller clothing size is what matters, try on your skinnier jeans periodically to see how they feel. The number on the scale is not the only measure of success.

Expect setbacks. When weight-loss stalls or you gain weight, don’t give up. Instead, nurture the belief that body weight is changeable through effort and hard work, says Burnette. Recognize the multitude of forces behind overeating and focus on the ones you can change. Don’t blame your husband for buying you a two-pound heart-shaped box of chocolates or fall back on the belief that being overweight is a genetic curse you can’t shake. Try a different strategy or seek support from a friend. You can do this.

Set and attain winning weight-loss goals with these useful tips and tools.

Examine your ideal body weight using a number of approaches.

Get online workouts and personal fitness coaching from certified experts. 

Keep an online food diary, get nutrient and calorie info, and keep a weight and exercise log.

Find a diet buddy (or two) to share the journey to weight-loss success.