Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weight Loss and Goal Setting

A few things have come together in my mind that lead to this particular post.

Earlier this week I shared a USA Today article on my Facebook page, regarding one of the persons in the Weight Loss Challenge. The woman had lost a significant amount of weight and said that she had done so by adhering to a 1500 calorie a day meal plan while also incorporating a lot of physical activity into her week. She reached her first goal but then starting slipping when she stopped tracking her calories. A friend of mine commented that she had lost her extra weight by counting calories and thought she might need a booster to take off a few of the pounds she since gained back. Her weight is close to ideal and she is VERY active, she is in the maintenance phase.

At the same time, I read an article about exercise and diet. Both diet alone and exercise alone can lead to weight loss, but only diet and exercise together were effective in changing the biomarkers of disease beyond pounds.

Another friend who has lost some weight but is in the improvement stage, mentioned that she was felt like grazing today. That also stayed in my mind as I went about the afternoon.

Additionally, I have been reading about goals - a review for me, but review is good!

So firstly, people can be in different stages when implementing a plan of action. The plan for us is living healthy lives and at times that involves weight loss. As I said, the best strategy for that is related to both calorie's consumed and calorie's burned. We have initial, improvement and maintenance stages. All of them should be goal directed and all goals should meet the following criteria, often abbreviated as SMART.

They are to be specific (exactly what you are going to do), they must be measurable and action oriented, realistic or achievable and timed. So hypothetically:

I am going to lose 5 pounds in two months.
I am going to eat 1500 calories every day.
I will walk 40 minutes four times a week and jog 20 minutes one time a week.
I will weigh myself every Wednesday morning before breakfast starting the first Wednesday in February.

Okay, the firstone is safe, possible, specific and certainly measurable. The second one is too and can be broken down further. One has to know how to find the calories in a food, so the first part of that step is learning about reading labels or using resources to get a general idea of calories per gram in foods one prepares themselves. The physical activity part has to include something environmentally possible as well as physically. If there is no where to walk or the persons feet hurt, then maybe it is cycling or swimming, etc that should be done.

Goals are not the only things that can make or break a wellness plan. To increase the chance of success it is helpful to believe in yourself, to make a list of the benefits and the costs, so that the benefits are GREATER, and it is very helpful to have people around you who also believe in wellness and believe in you. For instance, if everyone in the family or on the job is smoking when you want to quit - THAT will be hard. But if everyone in your office is avoiding junk food and taking walks everyday and you LIKE those people and want to be like them, then you have a better chance of succeeding.

This reminds me of my friend who mentioned grazing. There are two things to say about this - one is that grazing is not the same as having several small meals throughout the day and eating healthy snacks. Grazing is usually something that will get you in trouble. But my friend added that though she felt like grazing she was relieved that the office has numerous low calorie foods to choose from so that she didn't do alot of damage with junk. She is in a supportive environment and it became that way a little at a time. You can be the one to make your environment positive.

Now it is important that you do what is best for you when you set you goals and review your goals. Goals are both short and long term and include the process - the process above were the steps - lose 5 pounds by eating 1500 cals a day and exercising 180 min a week. A long term goal could be to lose 30 pounds and to maintain that weight within 4 pounds up or down forEVER. Another long term goal is to eat well and exercise most days of the week into perpetuity in order to have an active long life. That one is mine! And how you meet those goals are personal.

I will say that telling yourself "everything in moderation" is NOT going to achieve any goals. That isn't really based on any science, and it doesn't have action steps! I think I will blog about that another time. So yes, for me - I plan. I plan my exercise by week, basically, but flex on days according to weather or body messages. I plan my meals by day and I like that very much. No grazing if it isn't in my lunch box. I am too rigid for most, but just perfect for me.
SO set your goals, test out your action steps and GET A MOVE ON..

1 comment:

The Grazer said...

I think you read my mind when you wrote this blog. I am in the process of forumlating a specific weight loss goal for myself and now I know how to set a good one. :)