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Weight Loss Information -- Setting Effective Goals


Weight loss information is often confusing and misleading. The more specific we are in discussing weight loss information the better it is for everyone. Here's an example...realistic goals. What are realistic goals? I wrote an article not to long ago that defined "realistic" as a 5-10% reduction of your total body weight. The 5-10% reduction is all the weight you need to lose to show a health benefit or improvement.

But I think there is a more specific term that can be used when disseminating weight loss information, specifically dieting goals. How about Effective Goals. What are effective goals? Effective goals are:

1) Specific and measurable
2) Attainable
3) Forgiving

"Exercise more" is a great idea, but it's not specific. "Walk 1 hour everyday" is specific and measurable, but is it attainable? Maybe, maybe not. "Walk 1 hour 3 times per week" is a great goal. It's specific, measurable, attainable, and forgiving (leaves room to miss a day).

A behavioral technique, called shaping, utilizes this concept of effective goals, but makes it even better. It uses only small short-term goals that get closer and closer to the ultimate goal. It is based on the concept that "nothing succeeds like success." Shaping uses two important behavioral principles:

1) Consecutive goals that move you ahead in small steps are the best way to reach a distant point.

2) Consecutive rewards help to keep you motivated.

I am going to start using Effective Goals instead of "realistic ones." So, your weight loss information for the day...set effective goals and "shape" them.

To Healthy Living!

Michael A. Smith, MD
Weight Loss Professional

Dr. Smith is the primary physician and consultant for the Weight Loss Professional Website. His interests include preventative medicine, the genetic etiology of obesity, and several others too numerous to list. Please visit his Website at http://www.weight-loss-professional.com/article and let him know what you think.


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