Diet: Practice – Goals

While on Wikipedia researching for the benefits of setting goals, I discovered a mnemonic device one could use when setting up objectives – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted.  If one makes sure that their objectives contain each of these criteria, they have made a S.M.A.R.T. objective.

Then I promptly smacked myself in the face with a wet towel for considering using such tripe as the basis for this article.

I have a profound distaste for any method which boils down and filters all the effort and constant diligence it takes to change your body/life into bite-sized, Dr. Phil-ish, McTaoist, “The Secret”-esque, self-help bullshit.  The road to significant weight-loss is plagued with fad diets, plastic contortionist machines that only work the muscles of your pocketbook, and an attitude that losing 50 lbs will not only be easy, but also very fast and make you look like a swimsuit model who lifts themselves out of a pool and let’s the water slowly drip down their supple, succulent body.  And then she gives you that smile that says, “Yes, I do want to share a strong cocktail or four with you over in the clothing-optional part of the spa . . .”

I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought there . . .

Can you lose a lot of weight in a single season?  Yes.  Will it be as hard as you dread?  No.  But that does not mean you will go from having lot of fat on your bones to Cosmo cover material in six weeks.  Anything that promises that you will – hell, even if it mentions that it might be possible – do not trust it.  A complete body overhaul can not be molded into a neat little package that can fit in your pocket.  I also find that whole “self-help” genre kind of twisted.  If you need help to learn how to help yourself, you need to get out of the Barnes & Noble and into a shrink’s office.

By Gary Larson

And yet, though I hate to admit it, that S.M.A.R.T. device does carry some good points.  A large part of my weight-loss journey had more to do with planning, organization and honesty than food or exercise.  Being able to set proper goals will not make the hard work any easier, but it will have you succeeding at weight-loss far sooner.

So let’s go down the S.M.A.R.T. list and cover the things to keep in mind when setting objectives.  But first I’m just going to cut off some of the fat.  The Measurable portion is very important, so much so that it’ll get its own post next week, and Achievable and Realistic are pretty much the same to me, so let’s ditch one.  Now, I’ll agree setting a S.A.T. goal doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I don’t like writing anything past a first draft and we’ve gone too far for me to change anything now.

SPECIFIC

One of my favorite daydreams is what I would do if I had a batcave.  Of course, I would have an armory, full of superhero suits and advanced weaponry.  I would also have a workshop to build exciting and dangerous sculptures, a full obstacle course with moats and ziplines, and a large, open area for me to just jump around naked.  Now, can you describe to me, in extreme detail, every facet and aspect of one of your favorite fantasies?  Of course you can!  When it comes to our desires, we get very specific because every detail matters.

That is the kind of detail you need to bring to your weight-loss objectives.  It’s not enough to be general about your ambitions because you do not create any pressure to obtain them.  If “Lose 10 lbs in three weeks” is your goal, then you know every time you do not follow your diet or exercise everyday for the next three weeks, you are going to fail.  If “Lose Weight” is your goal, then it’s more than okay to skip the gym and eat a package of oreos because you don’t realize that every day matters.

Being specific with your goals also means you will have to be specific in how you are going to obtain them.  “I want to rig my front door so that every time I open the door A Fanfare For The Common Man plays on a music box!”   By being specific with my goal, I already have a rough outline of my game plan to achieve it.  I know I’ll have to buy a music box that plays that certain song; I’ll probably need to install a shelf somewhere near the entrance; and I will be opening and closing my door a whole lot.  With a detailed plan in place, all I have to do now is go out and do it.

ACHIEVABLE

Sigh.  No one ever likes this one.

With all I have said about dieting, with as much as I want you to know how attainable effective weight-loss is, there may be a possibility that you will never look exactly the way you want to.  Sometimes it’s genetics, sometimes it’s age, and sometimes it’s because to get to that ideal body in your mind, you would have to put in a lot more work than you’re willing to.

I’m not saying that you won’t be able to get to your dream body.  I’m just telling you to be realistic about it and set your goals accordingly.  Understand that the further away from your ideal body that you are, the more work and time it’s going to take to get there. 

Yes, but you don’t realize that the more weight you lose, the harder it is to lose more weight.  For reasons I will get into in a later post, the amount of effort it takes you to lose weight grows almost exponentially the closer you get to your goal (did I just use the word I’m defining in its own definition?  Jesus . . .).  If you’re more than 250 lbs and less than 6 feet tall, you are not going to find yourself looking like Brad Pitt or Jason Statham within a year, or with a single diet plan and exercise routine.  You must set your sights on a goal that is closer, that is more feasible for thismoment.  If you are focusing more on the fantasy of weight-loss rather than the reality of it, then you are going to be failing a lot more than you are succeeding.  Human beings were not meant for that constant barrage of losing, and constant failure leads to all-out quitting.

I’m talking baby steps here, people!

TIME-TARGETED

What came up when I googled “Time-Target”

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I work best with a deadline. I don’t like it, but then I don’t have to if it’s effective.  Setting a time limit to your goal helps you make a plan that caters to your schedule, and can also help you divide up the labor of the task at hand.  But more importantly, setting a time limit means that some day you will get to stop, which after three months of eating nothing but salad and hard boiled eggs while working out for forty minutes every single fucking day will sound like a gift from the heavens.

You’ll look like this on that day.

CHALLENGE(So I guess it would actually be a S.C.A.T. goal . . . that’s a little better)

Sing it Ella!

Don’t set the bar too low.  Make sure that, while your next goal should be reachable, it should be just out of your reach.  This way you will have to grow to get there.  If your objectives are too easy to accomplish, then you won’t lose weight because you’re simply not working hard enough.

Set specific goals.  Set realistic goals.  Set a due date.  Don’t slack off.  And now you can take that $16 you would have spent on The Secret and go make a kite, or buy a loaf of bread to feed the birds, or get new windshield wiper fluid.  You know, something useful.

I really do hate this book.

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