Stick with Smaller Goals to Keep Weight Loss on Track

Losing weight can seem daunting, especially when we have double digits in mind— but a health and wellness expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) said the key is to take it one step at a time.

“If we set lofty weight loss goals, like 10, 20, or 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, PhD, director of UAB Employee Wellness.

Whitt suggests taking one large goal and breaking it down into several smaller ones, such as losing one to two pounds per week. This can lead to better chances of success.

“Once those first one or two pounds are lost, you can celebrate,” Whitt added. “Then the next mini-goal can become the focus.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the benefit of gradual weight loss may result in longer term success. They recommend reducing daily caloric intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day in order to achieve a one to two-pound weight loss per week.

Another success tactic may be to shift the focus off of losing weight and focusing on not gaining any extra pounds. “Look at the number you are now, and tell yourself you will stay right there,” Whitt said.

Grant Martin, an editor with the UAB Office of Public Relations and Marketing, participated in the Scale Back weight-loss contest on a team at UAB, where he used this idea to help lose 16 pounds over a 10-week period.

“I started running to help with my weight loss, and I got on the scale every day to make sure I wasn’t going backwards,” Martin said. “Often there wouldn’t be any change, but weighing regularly kept me motivated so that I was able to drop a pound or two each week.”

Whitt and Martin both agree that having a strong support system behind you is key to achieving success.

“They are the ones who can pick you up and encourage you on a day when it feels overwhelming,” Whitt said. “These same people will also challenge you to continue to push forward, helping to propel you to greatness and encourage your efforts.”

Lastly, do not get discouraged weight loss plateaus or weeks where you didn’t reach your goal. Be proud of what you have accomplished thus far.

“If you put forth effort to achieve a goal and fall short, you still have accomplished a great amount, so be encouraged,” Whitt said. “Take a moment to be happy with your progress and remember that you still have the opportunity to set a new goal to achieve.”

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham
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