YOUR GUIDE TO TO GOAL-SETTING
Despite the high dropout rate among New Year’s goal setters, remember: goals are good! Research confirms they not only help to keep you motivated, but that people who set them are 10 times more likely to achieve a health objective than people who don’t. Use this proven five-step plan to help you feel healthier and happier this year.
1Reflect on the ‘why’
behavioural scientists say that keeping the reason why you want to lose weight front of mind motivates you to keep at it, and helps you keep those kilos off. rather than letting all those healthy behaviours that got you there fall away, you’ll keep doing them.
studies reveal losing weight to please yourself rather than someone else delivers better results, as does doing it for a reason like getting more energy or better health, rather than purely for appearances.
And remember — no ‘should-ing’ yourself. instead, reframe your weight-loss strategy so it sounds like something you’d like to start working on. that will put you in a more helpful frame of mind, so that you’re more likely to start taking steps towards doing it.
‘i’d like to lose weight’ is also a great way to start exploring why that goal’s important to you, especially when you put a ‘because’ or a ‘so i can … ’ on the end.
2Don’t focus too much on the end goal
You might have a number on the scale in mind, but according to a Portuguese study, making it your primary focus isn’t the best approach. Focusing on achieving a certain weight can be a subconscious ‘cue’ that you can quit weight-loss friendly behaviours once you hit (or don’t hit) that target. A 2016 study also found most of us need more immediate rewards to stay motivated, rather than the far-off carrot a number on a scale represents. A better approach is to focus on the weight-loss process instead by making a bunch of smaller changes that are rewarding — because that delivers big results over time.
3Make SMART-related changes that stick
the ‘small changes’ approach to losing weight is scientifically backed, and there are so many changes to choose from. check out the 20 we've highlighted on page 34. Once you’ve picked a few to work on, turn them into easy routines that are specific, measurable, Achievable, realistic and time-related (smArt).
For example, if you choose ‘exercise more‘, you might say: ‘i’m going to walk the dog after work three times a week this month’. it’s specific. You can also measure whether you achieve it. it’s very achievable and realistic — and by including ‘this month’, you’ve made it time-related.
4Turn changes into habits
When something’s habitual, you’ll do it on autopilot instead of having to make a conscious effort. An effective way to do it is by using the proven TAP technique — or Trigger, Action, Practise.
So, if your action is, ‘I’m going to walk the dog after work three times a week this month’, choose a trigger to act as a prompt to do it. It might be hanging the lead at the front door or refilling the dog’s water bowl. Then, whenever you encounter that trigger, practise the action.
5Don’t let a setback set you back
Gained weight instead of lost it? Or perhaps you haven’t carried out those small changes as often as you’d like? Don’t panic — and don’t give up. Research shows you don’t need a 100 per cent hit rate when acting on your trigger to make a change stick, and that weight gain doesn’t have to derail your journey towards your weight-loss goal, either.