5 Ways to Stick to a Goal
I pride myself on this being a weight loss/food blog, but this post can be for anyone! Goal setting is tough stuff! Even tougher than setting the goal, is reaching that goal and pressing on to new ones! Probably the hardest part of staying on a new diet is setting attainable goals and sticking with it! If you're like me, you've started and stopped a thousand times. You get sick of seeing that person staring back at you in the mirror, and you decide you're back to counting calories, or you're only eating vegetables.
Counting calories and eating vegetables is very important; however, restricting yourself THAT much can lead to a quick fade of motivation. Every time I got about two weeks in, I'd get hungry and go right back to eating junk. So what changed for me?
A lot of people ask me this question, and I go into a bit of depth in my "why" post; but for the most part, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm almost forty and I can't tell you how many times doctors would tell me that I was tired because I was overweight. I never wanted that to be true, but sadly, it was. Even with a thyroid disease, my overweight body was making life harder and harder.
So what changed this time?
I decided that setting goals would be the best way to mark my progress and keep me accountable to reaching my end goal of weight loss. But that's where my past mistakes come back to haunt me. I couldn't just set a goal of losing weight and be able to achieve it. It's important to set SMART goals.
1. SMART Goals
Many of you have probably read about SMART goals if you've taken any college workshop or tried to be more organized. I didn't believe this method at first, but I can tell you that I am now a true believer. S.M.A.R.T. stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. I will make a separate post breaking these down even more, but I wanted to highlight a few points.
Specific Goals - it's easy for us to throw out there, "I want to lose weight" or "I want to save money", but the truth is losing weight isn't our specific goal. By saying I want to lose weight, you aren't giving yourself a goal, you're making a statement that you will/won't be able to back up. Instead, say to yourself, "I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year." Give yourself a specific goal and set a timeline!
Measurable Goals - setting measurable goals allows you to visually SEE the results. Some people may find that setting a goal of losing 20 pounds by the end of the year is too much of a broad goal. Let's break it down even more. How are you going to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year? I'm going to set a goal to measure myself once a week, and weight myself once every other week. Set a day/time for that to happen. Write down your results. These are all ways you can measure your success on your path to reaching that goal.
Achievable Goals - this is another point that people get locked up on. If I set the goal for myself to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, and it's the last week of December...well, that's not an achievable goal. Not one that is healthy or realistic anyway. Make sure you are being realistic in setting your goals.
Relevant Goals - Make sure you are in a place in your life in which this is relevant to what you want/need. You are not going to achieve your goal if it's not important to YOU. Setting a goal of losing 20 pounds is all great and wonderful, but if you're not willing to give up the junk food, you may find that you're not in a place in which its possible to lose weight...we'll talk more about that in a bit.
Timely Goals - Finally, setting goals that have a timeline are SUPER important. As I mentioned above, just saying you want to lose 20 pounds isn't always going to set you up to succeed. You need to be able to put a timeline to your goals so that you can track your success.
2. Visual Aids
I'm a sucker for visual aids. Whether it is a list that I've created, motivational stickers that I've found on Pinterest, or just tracking my progress; I've found these visual aids have helped to keep me on track in meeting my goals.
Using goal trackers can be a very helpful tool in reaching your goals. For me, I used MyFitnessPal for daily food tracking for the first six months or so of my journey. It helped for me to be able to track all of my macros and to see exactly what I was putting in my mouth. I also tracked every pound/inch I lost or gained over time...I still use it for that matter.
Don't just track the losses! This is so very important!! It is so important to track your days in which you gain weight too. This is important because you want to be able to see the downward trend. I've shared before that my weight loss was not a constant downward slope...it was very much up and down, but with a downward trend, and that trend is what you want to see. THAT is what will keep you motivated to stick with it!
Don't just use the scale! Using the scale to measure success on any way of eating isn't just ineffective, its downright dangerous. You do not want to become a slave to your scale and worry about every bite that goes into your mouth and how it affects that number...this is a dangerous precursor to an eating disability.
The scale is a tool to monitor weight loss, but it is not the end-all-be-all to success. Monitor your progress in other ways as well...measure your body, take progress pictures, watch your clothing size drop, notice how much better you feel physically... All of these are great ways to monitor your success without using a scale. Speaking from personal experience, there has been several times now that the scale number goes UP, but my body has shown significant changes for the better.
3. Reward Yourself
Now I know what you're thinking. Pre-Keto Stephanie often would reward herself with food. It was an easy reward that was very satisfying for a time. I'm here to tell you...there are BETTER ways of rewarding yourself for good behavior and good habits, then feeding the beast!
Workout Gear. I like to reward myself for hard work by buying myself something that I'll be able to do MORE hard work in. It took me almost 40 pounds before I figured this out, and I was so excited when I realized how good it felt to do pilates without having to pull my too big yoga pants up all the time. It was after my 50 pound loss that I finally bought a new sports bra...it's like a whole different workout experience! Reward the hard work with more hard work!
New Shoes! Nothing shows off those newly toned calves than a new pair of pumps! Show that hard work off!! Or...go with what we just mentioned and purchase yourself a new pair of running shoes!! I'll always work hard for a good pair of shoes!
Pay Yourself. Set up a jar to put money in. Every time you hit a weight loss goal, whether it be in pounds or inches, drop some money in your jar! Once you hit your end goal, use that money to buy a new wardrobe!
4. Remember Your Influence
This is a touchy one. I'm very much a person who wants to influence others in a positive way. I knew that I would not be able to accomplish these goals of mine on my own, so I made sure that the people closest to me knew of my goals so that I would be held accountable to them. After a few weeks, it got hard again...really hard. But this time I did something different...I created an accountability group for my friends and I. This accountability group is on FB and now is over 900 members, most of whom I've never even met.
You may not need others to see your successes like I do, but you do need to remember those who are in your area of influence. Your kids, your closest friends, your relatives...with the obesity rate as high as it is right now, there is someone you love who could use your encouragement and motivation. Helping others is a great way to help yourself too. It's much harder to give up on a goal if you know others are watching you for success.
5. Non-Scale Victories
This one is SOOOOOO important for hitting your overall goal of weight loss! As I mentioned above, you don't want to use that bathroom scale as your only measure of success! It is super important that you find other ways to track your weight loss, and keep those at the forefront of your mind when evaluating your success.
Take measurements. I know I've already mentioned this before, but this is something that you NEED to do! It's something that I didn't do in the beginning and I completely regret it. By measuring yourself weekly, you will be able to notice that your body composition is changing while the scale may/may not move. Track these changes! Just like on the scale, they may go up and down, but as long as the trend is downward, use that as your motivation to KEEP GOING!
Take pictures. This is also something I didn't do much of in the beginning and I wish I had. Get someone to take some before pictures of yourself. Selfies don't do it justice, so get your spouse or a close friend to do it for you. Take pictures monthly so that you can see your body change over time. If you're comfortable enough, share them with your accountability partners! This keeps others motivated as well...AND sometimes they'll see a drastic change even when you don't!
Clothing. You don't have to track this, but make mental notes when you notice it. The best motivation to keep going for me, was going into a store and trying on clothes in my current size only to find that it was too big! As you start losing weight, take a few different sizes into the dressing room with you...it's such a great feeling when you find yourself in a size or two lower than you first thought! Also, play around with different styles that you may not be used to! Your body is changing, have fun with it!
No more pain! Probably the best part of Keto for me has been the fact that I don't ache as much as I used to. If you like to journal, make note of this! When things get hard, it helps to go back and read about how great you feel! If you don't journal, you can still track this in your phone or weight loss tracker app!
So share with me! What have you found that helps you stick to your goals? Do you have an accountability partner/group? What are some goals you've set for yourself?
Keeping it Keto,