The Diet Detective: Goals, Goals and More Goals

The holidays are behind us, and now we face the inevitable--diet season. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle. We eat as if there were no tomorrow; then, when the holidays are over, we awaken from our food coma and realize we need to lose a few (pounds, that is).

We rush to the bookstore in search of an answer, or listen to the latest diet guru, who offers us some miracle-of-the-moment, hoping, just hoping, it will make us fit. However, if you’re like most of us, you’ll end up falling prey to the neon doughnut and fast-food signs, as well as the many unhealthy food ads on TV. If you’ve been there, done that, how about doing something different this year: Set some goals.

Goal setting is critical to accomplishing any task. Is it possible to reach a goal without having a plan? Maybe. But if you want to significantly tip the odds in your favor, setting goals helps. In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that good goal setting increases your chances of reaching your diet objective by 84 percent.

Keep in mind, goals need to be specific (i.e., how much weight do you want to lose), motivating (interesting enough for you want to achieve them), achievable (realistic) and rewarding (worth having when you reach them). Strategies need to be tactical (i.e., you have a real plan), easy to evaluate, and revisable (if they are not working). Visit for more goal-setting tips.

All your goals and strategies should follow the guidelines above, but you still need to break them down into micro (in the moment), short-term (one to six months), midterm (six months to two years) and long-term (two to five years).

Overall and Long-Term Goals

Setting your long-term goal is your first decision. It's the equivalent of picking a location for your next vacation. In order to start the planning process, you need to know where you’re going.

Micro, Short-term and Midterm Goals

Micro goals are about deciding that the next time you go to the fridge you will reach for the mustard instead of the mayonnaise.

Short-term and midterm goals are those that get you to your long-term objective, the ones you meet “along the way.” They should keep you excited, motivated and on-target, and they should provide achievable objectives that bring you closer to your long-term goal.

You should start feeling good about your decision to lose weight right from the beginning. To help you do that, start each week by choosing a micro goal you can meet within the next seven, 10 or 14 days. If you eat out frequently you might decide that one of the restaurants you eat in next week will feature low-cal fish dishes. Or your goal might be to eat out only twice a week. Or maybe you want to try a new cardio?sculpt class at the gym.

It’s also important to break down your short-term and midterm goals into categories to help you track the various aspects of your long-term goal. Weight control involves a variety of issues including food choices, behavioral and psychological choices and physical activity. Take a look at each of the categories below to give you a starting point for setting your goals.

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