Managing weight is complicated. For many, it’s a constant struggle. Too often, we view weight management as all-or-nothing. But by doing so, we set ourselves up for failure.
Research shows that even a modest weight loss of 5-10% of your total body weight is likely to produce health benefits. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., a 5% weight loss equals 10 pounds, bringing your weight down to 190 lbs. While you may still be in the “overweight” or “obese” range, this modest loss can reduce your risk for chronic diseases related to obesity.
I ask patients to think of weight-loss goals in terms—immediate, short-term and long-term. This can help make the weight-loss process easier and more concrete.
The more specific your goals, the easier they are to track. It may sound nice to say, “I’m going to walk more,” or, “I’m going to eat more salads,” but these vague goals are not likely to keep you on track. That’s why I encourage my patients to create SMART goals, which are:
- Specific: Your goal is direct, detailed, and meaningful
- Measurable: Your goals is quantifiable to track progress or success.
- Attainable: Your goal is realistic, and you have the tools and time necessary to complete it.
- Relevant: Your goal aligns with your overall mission.
- Time-bound: Your goal has a deadline.
Instead of saying, “I’d like to eat more salad”, say, “I am going to eat a salad for lunch three days this week. To accomplish this, I will buy the produce at the grocery store on Sunday and make three salads Sunday night, so I have them for the week. This will help me to stay on track with making healthy eating choices.”
At the end of the week, check back in with yourself to figure out what is working and where you can improve.
Instead of saying, “I’d like to walk more”, try “I am going to walk 10 minutes after breakfast three days this week. This will help me to feel stronger and improve my stamina”. Again, at the end of the week, you’ll have the opportunity to check back in to figure out what is working, what you’ve learned and how to make adjustments.
In thinking about weight management, we often emphasize nutrition and physical activity—and they are important. But so too is acknowledging the behavioral component. Spending some time to figure out what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past—while looking forward to plan goals and establish habits—can have a huge impact on your success.
In these uncertain times, it can be easy to give up on our health goals. Remember, it does not need to be “all or nothing”. Choose to prioritize your health goals this week. What are the benefits of making changes? What are the consequences if you don’t make changes?. Answer those questions, then make a plan. Setting a SMART goal for yourself is a great way to move toward a healthier version of you!
About the author: Megan Zakarewicz, DO, is a primary care physician with certification in obesity medicine. She leads the Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss program. She is accepting new patients via telemedicine appointments. For more information, call Grand View Health at 215-453-4100 to schedule an appointment.