How SMART goals can help you lose weight

You want to lose weight, but do you know how much you want to lose and why it matters? Weight loss goals are important, providing focus and a tangible measure of success. So grab a pen and let’s make a plan. 

Earnest statements like ‘I want to be healthy’ and ‘I want to feel confident’ are well meant but often they can do little to spur us into action. Setting ambitions, goals and targets are motivating and also help us to figure out our ‘why’ – the reasons behind why we want to lose weight. Focusing on why we want to lose weight can help us stay on track. 

Finding a healthy weight 

The body mass index (BMI) calculator can tell us what our healthy weight range is. It’s imperfect as it’s not accurate for everyone, including athletes who have a very high muscle mass. Many experts consider the waist-to-height ratio a more informative measure to indicate unhealthy weight. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 25, so picking a goal weight between these two numbers is a good place to start. Or aim to lose 5% of your body weight as studies have found this to be a point where you’ll see great health improvements. 

Track your progress in different ways 

This is so important as weight loss isn’t always linear. Hormonal changes, what we’ve eaten and even the time we weigh can all affect the numbers on the scales. Even if we’re doing all the right things, sometimes the numbers don’t head straight down and we can get disheartened. Try taking photos to see your progress, sometimes losing a few pounds seems insignificant but we can see the difference in a photo. Also, take measurements weekly, seeing the inches melt away is satisfying. 

Set mini goals 

It can feel daunting if we’ve lots of weight to lose. It might be some time before you’ll get to your goal weight but break it down into manageable chunks so you can celebrate each step. Ticking off every 7lbs lost and every stone is very encouraging, each mini goal will bring you closer to your ultimate goal. You can also add in a celebration when you lose 5% and 10% of your body weight. Don’t forget, every loss brings health benefits too.  

Non-scale goals 

Focusing on fitness goals will help you stay active and boost your sense of achievement as you get fitter and stronger. Things that’ll help you get to your goal weight could include learning to cook a new healthy recipe a week or even getting to bed on time every night. 

Set SMART goals 

This is where it gets good, set yourself SMART goals. Don’t forget, weight loss isn’t all about the numbers on a scale, it’s how you feel, how your clothes fit etc. Factor this in too. Your goals should be: 

  • Specific 
  • Be clear about what you’d like to achieve. “I’d like to lose 16lbs, which is 5% of my starting weight” is better than “I’d like to lose weight”, which is more vague. 
  • Measurable 
  • “I’d like to be able to wear my favourite jeans” is better than “I’d like to fit into smaller sizes” because it’s something you can easily measure. 
  • Achievable 
  • Be realistic – much as we’d like it to, 5 stone won’t come off in a week, nor will we be able to run a marathon in a month if we’ve never run before. But committing to tracking what we eat every day for a week, or sticking to the couch to 5k running plan is achievable and something we can keep building on. 
  • Relevant 
  • Not everyone who wants to lose weight will have the same goals. If you’re not interested in going to the gym, that’s absolutely fine, instead focus your attention elsewhere and don’t give yourself the goal of going to the gym 3 times a week because you think that’s what you should be doing. Make your goals as personal to you as you can – if, for example, you enjoy cooking, make it your goal to cook more healthy meals as a way of eating better. 
  • Time-limited 
  • Give yourself a realistic timeframe for achieving your goal. If you don’t, you could find excuses can sneak in and as you put things off for another day. 

Try writing down your SMART goal to give yourself a real goal that you can visualise and are more likely to achieve. 

Setting rewards 

It’s important to mark your achievements, you’re working very hard to get them. Try and reward yourself with things that’ll help you reach your goal. Treat yourself to a new workout top or mat, or a sports massage for those newly worked muscles. Other ideas include activities like a trip to the cinema or a gig, something active like bowling or ice skating or even just a bubble bath with a good book. Another motivating way of marking special achievements is adding a pound coin to an empty jar for every pound you lose. This is a great visual representation of your weight loss and can be built on until you reach your goal weight. You can then treat yourself with the proceeds. 

Bit by bit, you can lose all the weight you need to. By setting SMART goals, you won’t feel overwhelmed by the challenge and we hope you’ll enjoy achieving each milestone. 

If you’re a resident of Nottingham City and need support on your weight loss journey, why not join our free Lose Weight programme? Gain access to personalised guidance and support tailored to help you reach your goals. Let us help you set meaningful targets, track your progress, and celebrate each success along the way.