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Why S.M.A.R.T. goals aren't smart for weight loss

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Maybe you've heard that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. But using this strategy for weight loss can backfire on you, because although you can control what you eat and how you exercise, your body won't always cooperate with the fact that a 3500 calorie deficit should result in a 1 pound fat loss. Your body, genetics and metabolism determine your success or failure.

A better plan is to set ACTION goals. For me that means staying within calorie range, strength training 3 or 4 days a week (and lifting more over time), and 20-30 min of cardio 4 or 5 days a week.

Here's a link to a good article on this:

The article suggests goals like achievement goals.
-Go 90 days without a drink
-Do a minimum of 20 min cardio a day no matter what
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JOE14250
    I have some goals plotted out across the calendar for 2013. They are modest, but in the Fat 2 Fit model. I like the idea of many goals. Many measurements of progress over time, so you can draw encouragement from some when the one goal (pounds fails to move). The flexibility has to be in your head and the things you tell yourself when the numbers you were expecting don't show up on the scale.

    I like the F2F idea of non numerical goals- like fitting into certain clothes etc.

    I think a lot of folks get discouraged when they set out with unrealistic goals and hopes for the quick fix. I should loose the obese label by the end of summer.
    1726 days ago
    What would you think concerning someone who comes into a hospital badly injured, leg
    broken in three places and states that they will heal by such and such a date so they can make it to some long anticipated event? We would tell that person to put those plans on ice. They need to heal and we’d tell them that it might not happen according to their preferred timeline. Within ourselves, we would basically say that that person needs a serious reality check. That individual is NOT in control of the process. All the doctors can do is stabilize the patient and create the environment for healing to take place. Outside of that, all they can do is let nature take its course.

    If this is so obvious in the physical, then why do we try to beat our bodies into
    submission to meet some ''I’m gonna lose XXX pounds by XXX date'' goal, then
    beat ourselves up because we couldn’t make ourselves do it?

    Create the environment for a healthy life, be consistent, then just let it unfold.

    1726 days ago
    I did manage to hold to a time sensitive weight loss goal but it was only by sticking to smaller goals like the ones you mentioned.

    The biggest issue I had with the time sensitivity was that near the end I was worried about not getting to that magical number on that magical day. I almost felt like none of it mattered if I didn't meet the deadline. Even if I missed it by only one day, I'll know that I failed. That losing 28.6 lbs wouldn't have been enough because my goal was to lose 28.8. I did meet the goal but still.

    I've got another goal date but it's a very loose goal, my focus on eating healthy and training for a marathon. If I do make the goal date, yay. If not...oh well, I'm still on my way to a marathon!!!
    1726 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/25/2013 10:55:50 AM
    Exactly! Thank you for summing it up so well!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1726 days ago
    BTW, I lost 1.2 pounds this week! emoticon
    1726 days ago
  • JANET552
    I totally agree. When it comes to diet, planning to lose the weight in a specific time period doesn't always work out and I know I don't need that added stress. I like the Action plan idea much, much more.
    1726 days ago
  • CARRIE1948
    I like the idea of 20 minutes of cardio each day
    1727 days ago
    It has been a frustrating experience of not reaching SMART goals. There always seemed something wrong about SMART goals for weight loss. Mostly because those typically planned Specific and Measurable goals (lose x # of pounds in y # of weeks) are neither Achievable or Realistic within the given Time frame. I don't lose a pound a week. Even with the numeric equations perfectly balanced for nutrition and exercise! Select an amount to lose within a specific time frame? I might as well try to plan on hitting high point values on the Spark Wheel. Or hit a bull's eye while blindfolded.

    1727 days ago
    I agree too. One of the steps of my journey has been learning to be patient with this process...
    1727 days ago
    I agree.
    1727 days ago
    Amen sista' I do agree with you 100%. my body never went to Math class and it totally uneducated on the 3500 calories so I had to learn to do the steps, forget about the theories and get on with it and it worked for me! Do what you have to do. Find your own wisdom in what is working for you and forget the rest. I am still experimenting.
    1727 days ago
    Thanks for posting the thought provoking article. It was very interesting and had some good points.
    1727 days ago
    Thanks for your post. Indeed, saying that I completed a certain action goal/commitment is going to be a did/did not achieve fact. Shooting for a -1 or -2 lb loss may not happen even when all the actions were carried through! Thanks, this makes goals less frustrating to achieve! ;) hehe
    1727 days ago
    Thank you so much for posting this! It is true our body can have a mind of its own. Action/Achievement goals are also measurable and specific. I started a 10,000 step a day on Jan. 1 and am still going. Blessings on your journey to a healthy life style.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1727 days ago
    I agree. I think S.M.A.R.T. Goals apply more to exercise than weight loss.
    1727 days ago
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