Why Goals Matter
No body composition program will work until you set a goal for success. A solid goal serves as a roadmap for the entire journey. Without this guide, you're like a driver who hops in her car and starts driving without any idea of where she is going. You're not likely to go far until you quit and go home.
So how do you set a goal that keeps your program on track? Many coaches, trainers and lifestyle experts use a process called S.M.A.R.T. goal setting to set up programs for their clients. The system is used often in corporate settings because it helps to define clear strategies and outcomes for their success. But it can be useful for accomplishing any goals, including body composition goals.
How to Set a SMART Goal
Let's walk through a typical weight loss resolution and apply the S.M.A.R.T. goal strategy. As an example, we'll use a common weight loss-related resolution:"I want to lose weight for my holiday." Now let's adjust this goal using S.M.A.R.T. guidelines. Each letter stands for a different element.
Use this process as an example, then tailor your own goal using the same principles. Notice how the starting goal is adjusted for each element until the final goal is a S.M.A.R.T
Avoid setting goals that are too broad. The first step in your goal setting process is to refine your goal into a specific accomplishment or milestone that you'd like to reach. One way to help refine your goal is to hire a coach or trainer, they can help with a realistic and acheivable goal to aim for.
If your weight affects your health you may be able to reduce your risk for disease or reduce dependence on medications if you slim down to a specific weight or BMI. If your weight does not affect your health, you may set a specific goal to lose the amount of weight that you gained over time.
Keep in mind, however, that setting a goal to lose a certain amount of weight is specific, but it may not be realistic.
Even with consistent and reasonable efforts you may not be able to achieve a certain weight goal. So setting a specific behavioral goal may be a better approach. A weight-loss related behavioral goal might include specific dietary changes or changes to your daily activity.
In order to track your progress during the weight loss journey, the goal you set needs to be measurable. Define how you will measure your success as you move through your journey.
For example, some people who are trying to lose weight may choose to monitor their BMI. Or some may choose to monitor weight or body measurements.
If you've chosen a behavioral goal (such as our example goal) you can track your progress on a calendar or spreadsheet.
Many fitness apps and activity trackers also offer different ways to measure your daily habits. Be specific about which measurement you will use.
To make your weight loss goal attainable, you should evaluate your past history with weight loss or habit changes. For example, if you've never been able to lose more than 5kg then a weight loss goal of 15kg might not be reasonable. Or if you've set a goal to exercise every day and you've never hit that goal for more than a few days, then a daily exercise goal is probably not attainable.
Remember that once you reach a goal, you can always set a new one.
All goals should be challenging but they shouldn't be so difficult that they are overwhelming. Cut yourself some slack and adjust your goal so that it is reasonable.
Your goal needs to matter in your life. Defining why the goal matters may help you stay motivated when complacency sets in. You might want to slim down to fit more comfortably in your clothes. Or you may want to reach a healthy weight in order to stay more active with your children or grandchildren.
Define how your goal is relevant in your life and remind yourself of these reasons when you are tempted to quit.
Each resolution should have a time limit. That is, you should decide on a reasonable amount of time that you'll take to reach your goal. If you've set a goal that is weight-related, keep in mind that a 0.5 kg weight loss per week is generally considered healthy weight loss, although at the beginning of any change, people tend to lose quicker.
If you've set a behavioral goal, designate an end-date when you will check in with your progress and make adjustments or add challenges as needed.
Putting all of this together
Say for example you'd like to lose 5 kg of weight for a special holiday in 11 weeks time.
Keep in mind that this can be used for anything not just weight loss, be it muscle gain, running 5k, or something business related.
Specific- I want to lose 5kg to fit into a dress size smaller (size 10) for my holiday in 11 weeks time. I will set a calorie goal of 1700 kcal a day and aim for 100g of protein, carbs and fat may change from day to day. I will also increase my vegetable consumption to half of my plate at each meal time. I will walk 10,000 steps a day or 70,000 steps a week and workout with my trainer 3 times a week.
Measureable- I will monitor my progress using my fitness pal. Using the scale and my clothes and how I feel as a guide of progress.
Attainable- I have 11 weeks until my holiday, which means a loss of just under 0.5 kg per week. I know that some weeks will be more or less but I feel this is enough time to acheive my desired goal. If progress is too slow or too fast I can adjust my approach accordingly.
Relevant- This is important to me as I want to feel more confident and positive about my body. I will feel confident in a bikini and be able to fit into my summer wardrobe whilst allowing myself some wiggle room to enjoy a cocktail or two and delicious food without feeling guilty or depriving myself My holiday is a goal but as well as that I want to feel more healthy and have more energy throughout my life.
Time-bound- I have 11 weeks to acheive my goal, this is a reasonable amount of time for a 5kg weight loss.
This is a great foundation to help you achieve your desired goal. Get a pen and paper out and get to work, being as specific as you possibly can. Imagine how you'll feel once you've achieved your goal and start behaving like youv'e already made it. Studies show that daily tuning in and behaving like you've already made it can have extremely powerful results.
In the next episode in this series we'll be looking at how to work out your calorie and macro goals and which are more relevant than others.
If you'd like help with any goal I have a couple of available spaces for 1-2-1 coaching.
Coach Tula xx