It is important to be realistic when setting goals. If you completely eliminate a food you truly love, you will be more likely to eventually binge or give up all together because you feel like the process is just too hard. My recommendation is to not get so caught up in the details when you are beginning this process – do not strive to be perfect, striving for perfect is just a recipe for failure. Especially if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, focus more on calories in versus calories out than getting caught up with having the perfect grams of carbs, protein, sugar, etc.
Remember this is a lifestyle change, and you will benefit from thinking toward the long-term. What is realistic for you? What can you sustain over time?
What are the foods I cannot live without?
- Plan these foods into your weekly eating plan. Do you need to have a piece of chocolate every day? A serving of gummy bears every day? Nachos one night a week for supper?
- Are there alternative options that will satisfy me?
- Can I learn to recreate my favorite foods into healthy alternatives?
- Do I have any trigger foods? Foods I know I cannot have just one serving or not keep in the house? Eat these foods outside of the house by buying each time.
How can I fit exercise into my daily life?
Now create your SMART goals specific to your needs and self-understanding…
- If you currently eat fast food most days per week, consider… “I will eat fast food only two (measurable) days each week, Monday and Thursday (specific). I will not limit my choices (achievable, realistic), but I will limit it to two days each week. I will do this for one month (time-bound).”
- “I will eat 1 chocolate bar every afternoon at 3 PM. This will be my afternoon snack. I will do this for 3 months. I will have a maximum of two extra sweets beyond this each week, if I have a craving or the opportunity presents itself. This will be part of my daily calorie allotment of 1500-1800 calories per day.”
- “I will have nachos for dinner one night this week and pizza on one other night. I know these will be higher calorie days, but I will be on track most days this week, so I will still be at a calorie deficit. I will do this on Wednesday and Friday night. I will also exercise 3 days this week, walking for 30 minutes each time.” I will do this for one week and then create a new goal for next week.”
- “I will walk up and down my stairs for 10 minutes every evening after supper, for one week.”
- “I will put my treadmill/exercise bike/elliptical in front of my TV and will only watch my favorite television show(s) when I am on this.” Or, if you don’t have equipment… “I will pace back and forth in my living room when watching my favorite television show(s).” “I will not watch this show without moving, so I will have to move/exercise in order to catch up on my favorite show.”
Consider the SERVE acronym when considering which goals to set: Sugar-sweetened beverages and liquid calories, Exercise habits, Regularity of meals, Vegetable and fruit rich diet, Eating less or portion size awareness.
Focus on small goals, one at a time. For one week reduce sugary beverages by 1/3. For one week move for 10 minutes each day. For one week eat small meals every 2-3 hours. For one week add more veggies. For one week reduce portions by ¼. Etc.
Create a small, attainable, easy goal and master it. No matter how small, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and this will motivate you for more!
Check out more of my general tips for weight loss and to help with goal setting here.