When I gained 25 pounds in the five months after graduating from college, my resolution for the New Year was to lose weight. But this goal had no real meaning or direction and didn't help me lose any of those pounds.
Basically my resolution was the bare minimum of setting a weight-loss goal, which meant my motivation soon waned and I cheated on my diet as soon as I was faced with a Friday-morning glazed doughnut at the office.
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Focus your goals
It wasn't until I read an article about how to make a "SMART" weight-loss goal that I could transform my "lose weight" resolution into a much more attainable goal.
SMART: Specific Measurable Accountable Realistic Timeframe
Here's how I set a SMART goal that helped me lose 25 pounds, which I've kept off for nearly seven years.
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Set a specific goal
A goal needs to be as specific as possible so you can work toward it and achieve it. "Lose weight" as a goal was too vague. What exactly did I wanted to achieve and how? Why do I want to do it?
During this time in my life, I put on quite a bit of weight in a short amount of time. I was lethargic, unmotivated, and really unhappy, so I knew a big part of my goal was getting back to my previous weight. I wanted to feel happy and full of energy from a healthy diet and exercise, which was a much better goal than just to lose weight.
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Make goals measurable
If I didn't make my goal measurable, I couldn't know when I reached it. Whether it was pounds or inches lost or how my clothing fit, setting a measurable goal was key to achieving it. My measurable goal was 25 pounds at a healthy rate of a half-pound to a pound per week.
I tracked my progress by writing down each half-pound lost, which broke down my goal into smaller ones. I saw little victories right off the bat. These successes built momentum, so my excitement and confidence kept me motivated toward my overall goal.
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In the past, I kept a paper-and-pen food journal, but I never lasted more than a few days. It was time-consuming and inconvenient to calculate all those calories, so hundreds of them often went unaccounted for each day.
So I used a more convenient online food journal to track my intake and be responsible for everything that went into my mouth. I also started blogging on Carrots 'N' Cake, and having thousands of people read my blog keeps me on track every day.
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Set a realistic goal
I also made sure my goal was realistic for me. I didn't want to make it too difficult because I might get discouraged, but I also knew losing 25 pounds wouldn't be easy.
I needed to see myself reaching the goal. It needed to be challenging without being overwhelming. Could I lose 25 pounds through healthy lifestyle changes such as eating a nutritious and balanced diet and exercising regularly? Of course I could, and I believed I could do it!
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Have a timeframe
If my goal didn't have a time limit, I knew I'd have trouble starting and staying motivated until the end. So I gave myself six months to lose the weight, and this gave me a target date to work toward. It ended up taking me longer, but once I started seeing results on the scale and with how my clothing fit, it motivated me to achieve my ultimate goal.
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