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Advice needed on setting goals

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I was recently reading an article (or maybe a quiz) on Spark about setting goals. The recommended goals, it says, are specific -- they have dates and amounts. So, for example, "Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5x/week" would be a much better goal than just, "exercise more." I totally get that.

But it also recommended weight loss goals -- lose 5 lbs by the end of January, for example. I'd certainly love to achieve that. And in my friends' blogs, I see that kind of goal popping up too. After all, that's why we're here, right?

But I'm scared to set a weight goal. I know I can control how much I exercise, how many calories I eat, how many days in a row I drink 8+ cups of water. But much as I try, I can't control my weight as well as I'd like. It depends not just on calories (which are difficult to track 100% accurately, but that's another post) and on exercise, but also on my sodium intake, what I'm wearing that day, how well hydrated I am, where I am in my cycle, which way the wind is blowing, and several other things I'm not even aware of. I don't feel that I can control whether or not I lose weight -- I can try my best, but I just don't know.

Is this an attitude that's realistic? Or is it setting me up for failure? Should I be setting weight loss goals with specific dates and numbers, or should I continue to set goals that are in my control, like exercise and calorie goals? What do you do?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm not a fan of setting stringent goals for myself. I see it as a challenge to NOT do what I say I was going to do. Goals like "i want to more more, exercise more, drink more water, etc" I get easily discouraged if I don't meet my goals too. The only thing that I have done that I am confident I'll be able to do is meet my 2013 Vegan Pledge. I've worked up to this though, it's something that speaks to me. Find something that you are passionate about, create a goal to do more of that, and you will always succeed in that goal. If you like a challenge then perhaps creating a goal that will challenge you would work too. For example if you are a runner a good challenge would be to shave time off of your time per mile. Or to be able to run a certain distance at a steady speed instead of it being fast. Endurance vs. Speed. Or if you are a swimmer, to be able to swim a certain amount of laps, learn a new "stroke" or whatever the different swimming methods are called LOL (can you tell I'm not a swimmer?? haha)

    There's a lot of great ways to make successful goals. I think too many people push themselves to lose a certain amount of weight during such a restrictive time frame that it's inevitably going to set some of them up for failure. What I plan to focus on is health, doing my best, and being happy. Everything else, including weight loss (the pound loss) will follow suit.
    1966 days ago
    I set goals for water, freggies, not eating out, moving more ... I try hard not to set weight loss goals (I usually fail them) unless Im RIGHT ON TOP of them ... ie ... I want to be down to 225 by New Years and my last weigh in I was 226. BUT I know that if I fail I wont be terribly upset. If you would, I wouldnt set weight loss goals.

    Im more of a tracker ... I like to track EVERYTHING. Im a whiz at excel (if you saw my spreadsheet youd think I was certifiable!) My point though --- you have to set goals or action plans or track what motivates you! Spark articles are great but in the end its what motivates you ... not everyone else :)
    1969 days ago
    I make health goals, like others have mentioned. I "can't" really make weight goals, because it makes me too focused on the scale, which for me is totally a bad idea. It makes me want to purge if it doesn't cooperate. I still weigh everyday, just to see how much water I'm carrying if any. Anyhooooo, yeah. Health goals.
    1969 days ago
    It might be better to set health goals, like exercising so many hours a day, sleeping undisturbed, eating small meals at the table. Weight often feels beyond our control. I don't know why I can lose weight some times and other times it's completely beyond me. I don't know if a few more minutes of exercise caused it or the something in my body chemistry just happened for unknown reasons.

    Health goals like the ones stated in my first sentence will cause you to feel healthy, stronger, more vibrant even if you don't lose weight.
    1969 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/30/2012 9:24:12 AM
  • JESSIKA_56
    One of my friends posted this thought on facebook... "Even if you lose 1/2 a pound a week, that's still 26 pounds in a year!"

    In other words, keep at it and don't get discouraged. So if setting a goal to lose 5# in January and NOT making it will discourage you, then I wouldn't do it. But if you set the goal at 5# and lose only 2# and can still be proud of that achievement, then sure, go for it!!
    1969 days ago
    I have a problem with specific goals on time limits. I do what I know to do One Day At A Time, but the timing is up to God. My goals are daily. When I put my head on my pillow at night I can look back over my day and know that I have done everything I could do that one day to move toward a goal. The doing is within our control. The timing not so much. You WILL get there, though, One Day At A Time.
    1969 days ago
  • APED7969
    I used to set weight loss goals when I was consistently losing weight. I've been not losing weight for the last year, although have made progress elsewhere so after I realised the weight just wasn't going anywhere I quit setting those goals. Now I set other goals that will hopefully lead to weight loss or at the least size loss. I think if you will get depressed if you don't reach your weight goal you either shouldn't set one or should set a very achievable one. If you're realistic about whether you can reach the weight goal and it will provide motivation as something to strive for then set the goal and be happy even if you don't get all the way there. Good luck with all your goals!
    1969 days ago
    Personally I don't want to set goals of weight loss, I just set goals that relate to things I know I can do. Such as taking a bike ride for x minutes x times per week. Or 'not have sugar for x weeks'.
    1969 days ago
    It is very helpful to the mindset. If you set a goal make sure it is realistic. If you do nOt reach the goal by the due date re-evaluate the areas that you can change to get closer to that goal. Do not focus on FAILING but SUCCEEDING. Failure is not an option. No matter what keep your head up and STAY POSITIVE!!!
    1969 days ago
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