Motivation Articles

Expert Solutions: Motivating Goals

SparkPeople Experts and Coaches Weigh-In on Motivation Issues and Dieting Frustrations


BECKY (SparkPeople Dietitian): I always try to use both approaches together. The lofty goal is often set (or planted in your head) by those in the ivory tower: Your blood pressure should be…Your HDL should be…Your weight should be…Your % body fat should be…You should exercise…Your fat intake should be…The list goes on and on.

Since everyone enters the race at a different spot and in a different condition, the playing field is vast. One cannot compare their race to others. But this is so difficult in our competitive, cutthroat society. This is why it is important to design and stick to your own race, with your own goals and expectations. Then true success and accomplishment, can occur.

I am currently working with a woman who, because of a complex medical history, weight and depression, was not ever leaving her house. Nine months later, she walks to her volunteer job four mornings a week, lost 20 pounds, and has lunch with two new friends in our hospital café. She may be crawling to most…but she is winning HER race!!!

NICOLE: Jen- I DO think that most people have unrealistic expectations...but can you blame them? We live in an instant gratification, speed-hungry society, so it's no wonder that even if it took you 20 years to gain 20 pounds, you want to get rid of it for your vacation next month.

And that also goes along with Becky's point about comparing oneself to others. If your friend did it, you should be able to also, right? And if the experts say that you should lose an average of 2 lbs a week, and you only lose 1, you think something is wrong with you. That's why I think small and attainable goals are so important. Even my own fitness goals are small. When I increase my time by 5 minutes a week, or increase my running speed by even .2 mph for a whole workout, I feel good! And that motivates me to keep going.

I never used to be very healthy. Fast food and Oreos made up the bulk of my diet and I never even touched a fruit or vegetable. I had a New Year's Resolution one year to be healthier. And although I consider myself to be a VERY ambitious person, my goals were small (just TRYING different fruits and vegetables was part of my plan!). You can't expect to change a lifetime of bad habits overnight.
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Member Comments

  • Great stuff and motivation!! - 7/28/2013 8:30:12 PM
  • Great article. To keep me going. Thanks - 7/1/2013 9:09:21 AM

  • 1. I only put a couple of kilos on my ticker at a time - it helps watching that ticker move faster than it would if I had had 60 kilos on it!
    2. Only at the start of a month do I make a change (if I need to). For example...April I looked at portion sizes, May I stopped all grazing, and in June I have been making sure there's sufficient protein in every meal.

    These little goals have been contributing to a more consistent weight loss and increased health. - 6/25/2013 3:42:24 AM
  • Loved this article.... besides,
    There's an enormous amount of great motivational "stuff" on Spark People - and the more I read, the more I understand about "The Journey" towards a healthier me.

    I began this trip as a way to make me be accountable to myself for the things I was eating every day. As I read it became very apparent that I was missing most of the picture...goal setting was a huge part. I have an "End Goal" but have taken the advice of "10% Goals" in the interim. That's working for me. I watch my daily/weekly calorie deficit like a madwoman... I also have a weekly goal to have a deficit every week - the amount is not always fixed because life is different week to week... but EVERY week has the deficit goal. Since I started in February of this year, there have been only 3 weeks that I didn't log a deficit - and all three weeks I was travelling. The goal then shifts, to make that up in the following week or two.... it's always with the "End Goal" in mind.

    IT CAN BE DONE - You can do whatever you make your mind up to do!! Thanks Sparkers!! - 12/4/2012 12:12:42 PM
  • When I sat my goal to lose 50 lbs by march, I also thought this is unrealistic, and excepted that I would be happy with what ever I lost. Weight is far so much easier to put on and oh so hard to take off. I know our bodies is not like anyone else,what works for one person might not work for the other. I loved this article it keeps me focus on me, what I can do.Thank You - 9/30/2012 11:16:39 AM
    Excellent article. I think it really does help to have the smaller (more easy to attain) goals as well as bigger, longer range goals. The problem I've had in the past is that i get to a certain point and then revert to old bad habits. Keep your eye on that long-term goal of improved health & fitness! - 6/23/2012 9:29:06 AM
  • Great Article! This website is helping me so much! - 4/19/2012 10:33:17 PM
  • Thank you. I was about to give up. - 4/7/2012 4:41:46 PM
  • I want to do the danish diet!!! LOL
    For real, I really need to take a lot of this in. So much of this article is talking directly to me!! - 3/19/2012 3:35:12 PM
    This article is so true. I am now 149lbs at 5'7.5" tall. A very short year ago I was 127lbs and trying to lose more weight. The weight was not coming off the way I wanted to it to and I was addicted to the scale. Because I was not losing the 2-3lbs per week as I wanted I use to binge to get over the disappointment hence gaining more weight until now.

    It took me over 30lbs later to realize that the reason I was unhappy with my weight then is because of my screwed up mentality about the weight loss PROCESS.

    Right now I want to be 120 but this time I am doing it the healthy way. Step #1 is I have thrown out the scale. I do not need to know how much I weigh everyday. Step #2 is that I am focusing on health and loving me through it all. and Step #3 is that I am being good to myself - 3/19/2012 1:15:28 AM
  • I am cutting my Danish consumption down from 5 to 2 a wek, LOL! Yep, large goals with attainable and measurable small goals is one of the tools of healthy lifestyle success! - 2/29/2012 8:47:35 PM
  • Goals are more than numbers lost on the scale! How did I not know that before. Staying within calorie limit, reaching my target km each week, walking the stairs in lieu of using the elevator at work. All goals worth celebrating. Thanks - 9/16/2011 5:14:10 AM
  • I've always believed in setting a large in general goal and then breaking it down into smaller chunks that give you the hope and excitement to make it to the end when you reach a smaller one - 6/25/2011 9:54:41 AM
  • Fantastic article I do believe that one should set small goals that you can achieve because when you do aim high and you do not achieve the results or goals you have set for yourself you tend to get disappointed in what you have achieved but don't look at it as failure tailor what you need to fix within you which means don't feel sorry for yourself instead pick yourself back up and finish what you started because in the end of it all you will to come realize that all of your hard work was well worth everything you went through to accomplish what YOU VIEW IN YOUR EYES YOUR SUCCESS STORY and keep a journal to chronicle your journey you will have good days and there will be some not so good but just remember Rome was not built in a day!!! - 6/11/2011 5:36:24 PM
  • What a great article! I've always been a BIG goal setter. But when you have 100 pounds to lose, it's easy to become discouraged, and FAST! I'm going to try setting some smaller, more easily attainable goals and then celebrate those achievements. After all, it is about taking one step at a time! Thanks SP! - 4/28/2011 12:57:00 PM

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