January 2020 #obsm chat blog: New Year’s Resolutions, Goal Setting, and Weight Management. What’s Important?

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January 2020 #obsm chat blog:  New Year’s Resolutions, Goal Setting, and Weight Management.  What’s Important?
By Dr. Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., FTOS, @AskDr_Rachel

With the New Year, you may be thinking about the past year, thinking of what you have accomplished, and thinking of what you want to accomplish this year.  You may even have made some New Year’s resolutions. It’s always good to think about where you are at the present time and where you want to be in the future.  Several things are important to keep in mind when setting goals.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions.  You’re putting some serious pressure on yourself using this one special day of the year to make a change (especially when you can decide to change any day).  You’ve probably told people about your resolution and now have expectations from others and yourself. You also won’t be happy until you accomplish this one big lofty goal and it is probably something that you have tried to accomplish in the past, but failed and is a huge endeavor which is impossible to accomplish quickly. So, why set yourself up for failure? Why be sad and feel like a failure until the day you accomplish it (i.e. quit smoking or lose X amount of weight)? 
So instead of making a New Year’s resolution, think about setting a long term goal. A long term goal is something that you actually don’t plan to accomplish today or tomorrow, but you actually plan to accomplish in the future. Then breakdown that goal into smaller, realistic pieces calledS.M.A.R.T. goals. Make them:
·    SpecificFor example, instead of saying “I will run more this week”, say “I will run 4 days this week.”
·    MeasurableGoals need to be something you can measure. The above example also pertains to this. At the end of the week, you know if you ran 4 days or not.
·    Action-oriented and Achievable.  Instead of saying what you won’t do, say what you WILL do. Additionally, the goal needs to be able to be achieved.
·    Realistic.  Is your goal realistic? Are you willing AND able to do it? For example, instead of “I will never eat fried foods” say “I will only eat fried foods one time this week.” Also, is your goal realistic to achieve at this time? Maybe you can’t go to the gym 5 days this week because of other commitments, so maybe your goal for this week is 3 days.
·    Timely.  A goal needs a time frame. If you want to run a marathon, when do you want to run it? Someday won’t work and someday may never come.
The smaller goals should be something that is in your control, something you CAN do—meaning a behavior. For instance, if you want to lose weight then some good behavioral goals would involve your water intake, food intake, and physical activity. These are behaviors that YOU control and if you do them you are actually working towards, and one step closer to, your long term goal. Further, the advantage of short term goals is that you feel a sense of accomplishment quickly. For instance, set a short term goal for this week to go to the gym X amount of time or drink X amount of water (very specific and measurable) and if you accomplish those goals, you succeeded (yippee!)  and….you don’t have to wait to feel a sense of accomplishment. That sense of accomplishment will then give you the motivation to keep going and set more short term goals that will help you inevitably reach your long term goal.
At our January 2020 #obsm tweet chat, we’ll discuss these questions about resolutions and goal setting in connection with weight and health:
1.  Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution related to your weight or health?  How successful were you in keeping it?
2.  How important is it to set small, achievable goals in trying to change behavior? Have you or your patients used small-goal strategies?
3.  What non-scale goals would you recommend to someone trying to manage their weight?
4.  Is it possible for you to or your patients achieve positive weight or health results without actually setting goals?
5.  What resources have helped you or your patients reach health goals?
6.  Do you have any health or weight goals you’re working on now?  Share your story!

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