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Setting goals will help you gain more self-confidence and achieve greater success on your weight loss journey.

To set a goal is to make a commitment to a healthier, happier future. It involves forming a long-term plan for self-development and breaking it down into smaller steps (sub-goals) that move you towards your primary goal. If your objective is to lose 7 to 10 percent of your excess body weight in 3 months then you need to plan how you can reach your objective within that time frame. For instance, your sub goals might be to take up a form of regular exercise, restrict your calorie intake by 20 percent, and eat 20 grams more protein and 30 grams less carbohydrates per day. By committing to these sub-goals, you are likely to achieve your primary goal.


Why goal setting is important

Undergoing bariatric surgery without putting goals in place is like setting out on a journey without knowing the destination. To achieve your goal weight and make lasting improvements to your health it is important you can measure your progress and see how far you’ve come. This way you can identify the foods and activities that are helping you to achieve your goals and eliminate (or do less) of the things that are setting you back. Making a plan with a primary goal and sub goals will help you overcome negative behaviours and eating patterns and adjust to a healthy diet and lifestyle.


Common goal setting mistakes

In the first 12 months after surgery you might find you meet your target weights with minimum effort. As your weight begins to stabilise, however, managing your weight in the long-term will depend on your ability to make goals that succeed. Setting ‘unrealistic and unmeasurable’ goals are common mistakes that keep us from achieving the most important post op goal: lifelong weight management. The SMART technique is a reliable criteria that can help you avoid these mistakes and set goals that are realistic and attainable.


Setting SMART goals

Specific – identify your goal and define it clearly. Make it specific and don’t be vague. It will help if you write down why you want to achieve this goal.

Measurable – make sure your goal is measurable. To lose 7lbs in 3 months is more likely to be attainable than losing enough weight to feel happy again.

 Achievable – set goals you can achieve in reality. It is not realistic to plan to run in the London Marathon this year if you’ve never had any training. It is realistic, however, to start training for next year, today.

 Relevant – tailor your goal to suit your own interests and priorities. Your best friend might be set on getting fit enough to hike up a mountain, but is hiking really your thing? You might be more motivated to get fit through learning yoga, salsa dancing or swimming. Think, what genuinely motivates you?

Time bound – set a timeframe for meeting your goal. You are more likely to meet your goal if you have an important event or date in sight. If your goal is to lose 20lbs, you will be more motivated to succeed if you aim to lose that weight before your wedding date next year.


Why set SMART goals?

SMART is an easy-to-apply method that works well for personal development goals such as weight loss. It can be used to set long-term goals (5 + years) and short-term goals (less than a year). As a tool it brings clarity and focus to your plans. It teaches you how to define your objectives clearly and become familiar with working towards your goals within a set timeframe.

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