When it comes to diet and weight loss, starting small is not very enticing. Most people are drawn to the “lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks” plans on Pinterest, or fad diets that cut out all unhealthy foods all at once.
Those may seem like the best way to go, but if you take that route, you just set yourself up for failure. You just set yourself up to be one of those people who only stick to their diet or exercise plan for a week.
The secret to successful long-term weight loss is not an “all or nothing” approach. It’s a “one step at a time” approach.
Imagine if someone said you only have one day to climb a giant mountain. It would seem impossible as you turned your eyes all the way up to the peak. But if you instead made a plan to only climb a fourth of the way up each day, it would seem more doable and you would be more likely to have success.
Starting small also allows you to build confidence in your abilities over time. If you failed after two weeks to lose the 20 pounds (which is likely), you would feel bad about yourself and have less confidence the next time you tried to lose weight.
But if you started small, and achieved a more reasonable goal of losing 4 pounds in 2 weeks, you would have built your confidence and motivation to keep going with your weight loss.
How to Set Small Goals for Weight Loss
Here are two ways to make small goals that bring big results:
1. Think of your goals as levels and level up after you’ve mastered each goal.
Say your goal is to start exercising more. You would not start by making your goal to exercise for 1 hour everyday. That would be crazy hard for a beginner. Instead, break your goal up into levels that build on themselves like this:
Week 1 Goal: Exercise for 5 minutes everyday
Week 2 Goal: Exercise for 15 minutes everyday
Week 3 Goal: Exercise for 30 minutes everyday
Week 4 Goal: Exercise for 45 minutes everyday
Week 5 Goal: Exercise for 1 hour everyday
Now, doesn’t that seem more doable? I get that its not exciting to know its going to take you 5 weeks to accomplish your goal. But guess what? If you tried exercising 1 hour everyday at the beginning, I guarantee you it would feel too hard, you would lose motivation, and you would give up after the first week. By taking small steps, you would be exercising the whole time on the way to your goal.
2. Set goals that you have high confidence you will be able to achieve.
If your goal seems really difficult, and you are not sure if you will be successful, it’s not a good goal. The best goals are ones you are confident in and believe you will achieve. That’s why in the first point, the week 1 goal was only 5 minutes per day of exercise. That might seem silly, but guess what, I bet you would wake up in the morning absolutely knowing you could accomplish this goal. If you started with even 30 minutes, you might not be so excited or confident about starting exercise.
Be Specific to Help You Be More Successful
To have success you also need to be very specific in what you want to achieve. You should leave no room for any gray areas. For example, if I say my goal is to “eat more fruits and vegetables,” how do I know when I have achieved success? How much do I actually have to eat to reach my goal?
If I was only eating 1 serving of fruit and 0 servings of vegetables each day, a much better goal would be “eat 2 servings of fruit and 1 serving of vegetable each day.” This is specific, so I know exactly what it’s going to take to be successful. It is also a small step up from what I was doing before, so it won’t seem too difficult to achieve.
Go Get Nutritioning
I challenge you to take what you have learned here and make a couple of nutrition or weight loss goals for yourself. Make sure they are small enough that you will have confidence to achieve it. Once you achieve it, you can add other goals to level up and move higher up the mountain. Learning to be healthier is a journey best taken one step at a time.
Download The Free Cheat Sheet
If you would like more help setting goals, you can download this free cheat sheet on how to set SMART goals for nutrition and weight loss. These are the kind of goals that dietitians and other professionals use everyday to help their clients be successful.