Whether you want to quit smoking, get rid of your debt or lose some weight? You can buy the patch, pop some pills, pay a debt consolidator or pick up the latest ab-butt-belly-electro-mechanical machine.
If any of these methods worked for you, count yourself lucky. Over the years as my weight has ebbed and flowed I have watched a number of friends, co-workers and family sign up for and spend thousands on everything from Jenny Craig to the Belly Fat Burning Belt. Sorry, I just can’t buy into these ideas.
Over years of watching some make progress while other have not, and even with my own previous experience, I have learned a couple things that I believe are key to successfully losing weight.
The first concept is the easiest. Weight loss is like a simple mathematical calculation. Calories are added and calories are burned and the difference is how much you weigh. If you want to lose weight, it really is as simple as either burning more calories , consuming less or a combination of the two.
The second concept is where most of us fail. We fail to follow through. Often we are not focused and don’t remain committed. Frankly, we just give up too easily.
According to Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Herfordshire in England the key is “making a plan and then sticking with it.” – quoted in Telegraph.co.uk
But he also has an awful lot of data to support this. Professor Wiseman has studied over 700 people that have made a wide range of New Year’s resolutions. He has tracked people that failed and those that have succeeded. Based on his analysis of their approach, he has identified several tips to increase the likelihood of success:
1) Make a plan – Determine your ultimate goal and then break it down into smaller specific steps that you will take to achieve your goal. (See below)
2) Vocalize your commitment – Tell you friends, coworkers and family about your resolution. Face it, it is easy to justify failure to yourself. But we all know others will see through this failure. (Contained in this post)
3) Track your progress – Keep records of your progress. Recognize when you are falling behind and when you are making progress. (Coming soon)
4) Celebrate your success – Make a game out of your endeavor. Every month you make progress, reward yourself with a small gift or luxury. (You can bet on it)
5) Remind yourself routinely – Use post-it notes on the bathroom sink or your desk. Pin up a picture of your younger, thinner self as motivation. Put together a list of books to read throughout your journey. (See #3)
When I reviewed this list it seemed I couldn’t help but think of S.M.A.R.T goals that I wrote about several months ago as part of my series on Principles of Financial Management.
So in keeping with applying my own philosophy here are my S.M.A.R.T. goals for losing weight:
Specific – I will lose 44 pounds of weight. Primarily my opportunity lies in consuming less, a lot less.
Measurable – It only takes a scale. Something that I won’t use every day but I will update my current weight at least once each month. As soon as I can figure out how to get a graph or chart on the sidebar that does not conflict with other plug-ins, it will be added.
Attainable – Based on previous weight fluctuations this is a stretch, but definitely attainable.
Realistic – I’m 6’2″ and currently weigh 244 pounds; totally realistic.
Time – I will accomplish this during the year. I am in no hurry and I have no intention of doing some crash diet just so I gain it back in a few months. I am taking the next step on a lifestyle change that includes less food.
What you see in this post is effectively the same approach I took getting out of debt. It is the same approach I take on virtually any project or major task.
Whether you want to pay down debt, build a nest egg, or quit smoking; announcing your intentions, making a plan, committing yourself and tracking your progress will allow you to achieve what you desire.