Wednesday, Jan. 23 2013 9:20AM
Smaller goals are best
By Judy Schmoeger
We are half-way through the first month of the New Year and some of us are still working on our goals or New Year’s resolutions. For most of us, there is one goal that shows up year after year and that is to lose weight and or live a healthier lifestyle.
Experts claim that smaller goals have a greater chance of success. According to a health and wellness expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “the key is to take it one step at a time.”
Losing weight, especially when the goal is to lose double-digit amounts, can seem like an impossible goal.
“If we set lofty weight loss goals, like 10, 20, or even 30 plus pounds, and we don’t make progress quickly enough, it’s too easy to get distracted and have our emotions convince us that the goal is not achievable,” said Lauren Whitt, director of UAB Employee Wellness.
Whitt further explained that by breaking down our goals into smaller, more manageable goals, we have a better chance for success. By making goals to lose one or two pounds a week, the goal becomes more manageable and if we stick to our goal, eventually we will actually lose the double digit weight we really want to lose. Most experts agree that people who lose weight gradually are more likely to keep it off.
So, how do we lose one to two pounds a week? First, we know that one pound equals 3,500 calories. That means in order to lose one pound a week, we need to cut down on our calories by at least 500 calories each day. Two pounds a week would require cutting down 1,000 calories per day.
In order to cut down on our calories, we must know how many calories are in the food we are eating. How many calories are you currently eating each day? Start reading food labels, purchased food has nutrient information on the label and there are numerous online sources for calorie counting as well. Don’t trust your memory; write down everything you eat including the number of calories the food contains. At the end of each day tally the number of calories you have eaten and also at the end of each week. Be honest with yourself, no one is going to know if you cheat, but you won’t reach your goal unless you play by the rules.
There will be days when the scales do not show your progress but don’t be discouraged, just stick with your plan and you will reach your goal. Behavior change is the key to successful weight loss and it takes about 12 weeks for most of us to change our behavior. Be patient with yourself and don’t forget to celebrate each small victory with a non-food treat.