How to set weight loss goals that actually work!

It’s the start of a brand new year and this is the ideal time for setting weight loss goals. The busyness of Christmas and the food and drink temptations have gone and now is your opportunity to focus on your weight and making a real, positive difference.

The only thing is that most people in January will set vague New Year goals which are really more like a wish. This could be “I want to lose some weight, maybe 2 stone” or “I want to get fitter”.

These types of goals often drift along without any real progress and then in a year’s time they will be repeated. All this time the person is unhappy about their weight but have now had another year of their life living with it.

Setting weight loss goals in an effective way will give you a much greater chance of getting there, and after helping thousands of people lose weight, there are 2 options that I recommend. These are:

  1. Setting specific goals
  2. Focusing on enjoying your exercise and diet

1. Setting specific goals

Specific goals are where you state exactly what you want to achieve and you give it a deadline. For example:

“I want to lose 2 stone before the end of the year. That means I need to lose 28 pounds over 50 weeks which is about 0.5 pounds per week”


“I want to reach 12 stone 0 pounds before the end of April. So I need to lose a stone which means I need to lose 14 pounds over 15 weeks which is about 1 pound per week”

You can then have a weekly weight loss target, such as 1 pound a week, and aim to achieve this every single week.

The big advantage of setting specific goals like these are that they can help to keep you focused and on track. You have a constant target to aim for each week and so you need to be consistent with your exercise and diet to keep the weight coming off regularly. It keeps your mind on the ball.

When this strategy is working well it can give you a big boost because you regularly see your efforts paying off and you are constantly improving.

The disadvantage of setting specific goals is that they can take up too much focus whereby a person may weigh themselves each week and then be feeling quite stressed as they stand on the scales. They then either feel great that they’ve lost weight or gutted that they haven’t.

So for many people they can have anxiety using this method and start to think negatively if things aren’t going to plan, and they can become obsessed about losing the weight each week. It can therefore also be a distraction from enjoying your exercise and diet.

2. Focusing on enjoying your exercise and diet

This second strategy is a way to indirectly target your weight loss goals in a positive way, and without setting specific goals that might stress you and make it harder to get there.

So with this approach you may say:

“I want to lose 2 stone. So what I’m going to do is not stress about my weight, I’m going to focus on enjoying my exercise, enjoying developing a healthier diet, and then the weight loss will come along the further I progress”

The focus is all about developing your exercise and getting fitter which makes it easier to lose weight, and developing a healthy diet which also makes it easier to lose weight. While doing this you have the positive mindset that you are going to enjoy everything you are doing with your exercise and diet.

Remember that developing your exercise and diet to the right level, and being able to enjoy them, are really what’s needed to lose weight and get results that you can keep over the long term. If you enjoy your exercise and diet then it’s much easier to keep it up.

The big advantage of focusing on enjoying your exercise and diet is that you can still lose weight and feel positive, and you aren’t stressing about losing weight each week.

One thing to be careful of with this strategy is that you don’t let things slide where you aren’t pushed enough to develop your exercise or diet. In that case you end up doing neither and therefore also don’t lose weight.

To avoid this you could have exercise or diet related goals, rather than weight loss goals. For example, “My goal is to exercise 2 times every week for the next 6 weeks”. You could also weigh yourself once a week just to monitor your weight and to help you be motivated to keep on track with your exercise and diet.

I recommend the second option for most people

The tricky part of setting specific weight loss goals is that weight loss is not linear and so you won’t lose the same amount of weight each week. In fact, you may think you’ve done everything right in a week and yet you may lose weight, stay the same weight, or even gain weight which can be very frustrating.

Factors such as your food and drink, hormones, and water retention, can all affect how much you weigh and this can fluctuate from day to day, and week to week.

By focusing on enjoying your exercise and diet, you can focus on taking positive actions in those areas, and you don’t need to stress or worry about your weight. At the very least you can be getting much fitter and healthier whatever happens with your weight, and hopefully you can also lose weight at the same time.

Having said this, a large part of being successful with losing weight and reaching your goals is your mindset. You have the options of setting specific goals, or focusing on enjoying your exercise and diet, and the different options will suit different people.

So the best thing for you to do is pick the option that best suits your mindset. Think about which one will help you the most. Then commit to giving it a good go, knowing that you always have the other option as a backup plan in the future if needed.

James Porter