Goals are great. They can help keep your head on straight when there are 50 different things demanding your attention. Or at least that’s what effective SMART goals can do.

Sometimes goals can be simple. For example, I will get in bed by 9:30 pm every weeknight.

But what happens when you have a more complicated goal like weight loss?

If you’ve every tried to lose weight before, you know firsthand that it’s not such a simple process. There are so many factors involved that it can be hard to juggle life and your weight loss goals at the same time.

That’s why it’s important to create SMART goals for weight loss. With SMART goals, you’ll be breaking down your weight loss journey into manageable tasks making your success much more likely.

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What are SMART goals?

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable (or Achievable), Relevant, and Time-bound.

Setting SMART goals keeps you focused when you’re not sure where to start on your weight loss journey.

How to Set SMART Goals for Weight Loss

Before you even start to think about goal setting, take a step back and think about why you want to lose weight. To help you discover your “why,” you can create a wellness vision.

Creating a wellness vision can help you stay motivated as you work towards your goal weight. Or you may discover that losing weight isn’t something you want to focus on right now. And that’s okay.

The whole point of SMART goals is to get you to where you want to be without feeling overwhelmed. You’re the only one who can decide where you want to be and how you want to get there. It’s all up to you.

Make Your Goal Specific

The word specific in blue font

It can be easy to get caught up in the end result of what you want. You want to lose weight so the goal you set is “lose weight.” Or maybe your goal is to “eat a healthier diet” or “eat more fruits and vegetables.”

Those are good goals to have but how do we make it specific?

The more specific you make your goals, the easier it will be for you to stick to them. You’re giving yourself a blueprint to follow. That way you’ll know when you’ve reached your goal. It’s also easier to track your progress if you give yourself specific goals.

For example, instead of setting the goal “drink more water,” a more specific goal would be “drink at least 75 ounces of water every day.”

Do you have a goal weight in mind? If you do, include that in your SMART goal.

Make Your Goal Measurable

The word measurable in blue font

Tracking your progress is important while on a weight loss journey. Making your SMART goal measurable is one way to make sure you can easily track your progress.

Maybe you want to start out with a 20 minute walk at least 3 times per week. That goal is easy to measure and track. You can just use the timer on your phone or another fitness app. You can write down the number of days you were able to walk or use a fitness app.

Make Your Goal Attainable (Achievable)

The word attainable in blue font

Losing weight is difficult enough without the extra pressure that we put on ourselves. When you create a SMART goal that’s within your reach, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Weight loss looks different for everyone. An achievable goal for one person might be a huge stretch for another.

If the last time you ran was in high school, making your goal to run 5 miles every day isn’t attainable for you right now.

To make your goal more attainable, look at your physical activity right now. Start small. Maybe start with a light 1 minute jog during your 20 minute walk.

Make Your Goal Relevant

The word relevant in blue font

Sometimes we can get distracted along our weight loss journey. We can get excited while ramping up our weight loss efforts. And in this excitement we might lose sight of what we wanted to achieve in the first place.

You can avoid this pitfall by making sure that your SMART goals are relevant to what you want to achieve.

For example, if you know that stress is blocking you from getting to a healthy weight, then setting SMART goals around stress management would be a good move for you.

Make Your Goal Time-Bound

The word time-bound in blue font

Do you tend to procrastinate? If you do, it can be easy to lose focus once you’ve set goals for yourself. To help get yourself moving, your SMART goals should be time-bound.

Set a date for when you want to achieve your weight loss goals.

For example, if your weight loss goal is to lose 10 pounds, give yourself a time frame for achieving that goal. A general guideline for healthy weight loss is 1/4 pound-2 pounds per week.

There are lots of different factors that go into how much weight you can lose realistically and safely. So make sure you seek a healthcare professional’s advice if you have any concerns.

Examples of SMART Goals for Weight Loss

Let’s not forget that losing weight is about so much more than eating a healthy diet and increasing your physical activity. If you dig a little deeper, things such as your stress levels, your sleep patterns, and even your social engagement can have a huge impact on your weight loss.

So when you set goals around weight loss, take an honest look at what you may need to achieve your goals.

Here are some examples to get you started.

SMART Goals for Stress Management

Woman Meditating on yoga mat in brightly lit room Beside her Dog

Are you prone to stress eating? Do you find yourself skipping exercise in favor of curling up on the couch with your favorite comfort food?

Stress could be blocking you from hitting your weight loss goal. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Here are some examples of SMART goals for stress management. As you read through them, think about what helps you de-stress.

  • Every Sunday night I will meditate for 5 minutes right before bed.

  • This Saturday afternoon I will treat myself to a healthy, delicious lunch at my favorite cafe.

SMART Goals for Exercise

Black Kettle Bells lined up in 2 rows

Exercise can be a tricky obstacle to overcome. But once you add it to your routine, your weight loss progress will show up faster than you think.

If you’re totally new to exercise, these next few examples might help inspire you. If you haven’t worked out in a while, you’ll want to start out slow.

  • During my lunch break on Mondays and Wednesdays, I will walk for 20 minutes.

  • On Saturday mornings, I will do a 15 minute YouTube dance cardio routine.

SMART Goals for Healthy Eating

A salad with colorful assorted vegetables and grilled meat on a plate

Improving your eating habits is challenging but so worth it.

Take a look at your current eating habits. Look at what you’re doing right. Then look at areas you’d like to change for the better.

Here are some examples of goals to help inspire you.

  • Every Friday night I will write a meal plan (2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners) for the following week.

  • I will add 1 serving of leafy greens to my smoothie at least 3 mornings this week.

SMART Goals for Sleep

Closeup Photo of Adult Short-coated Tan and White Dog Sleeping on Gray Blanket in brightly lit room

Getting sufficient sleep is the one area I struggle with the most. But it’s something I’m willing to work on because a good night’s sleep is the key to reaching your weight loss goals.

If you’re running low on energy due to a bad night’s sleep, you’re probably not going to want to go to the gym after work. You might even skip cooking a healthy meal at home in favor of grabbing fast food.

Starting a healthy lifestyle is difficult enough. You’ll need the extra energy that a good night’s sleep will give you.

  • Every night, I will set a timer to remind myself to stop scrolling social media past 9:00 pm.

  • Every night, I will start dimming all the lights in my home by 10:00 pm.

A Few More Thoughts

Weight loss isn’t just about counting calories or going hard in the gym 5 days a week. Yes, both of those things will lead to weight loss. But as we try to navigate our hectic lives, we have to remember there are so many other factors that go into losing weight.

Creating SMART goals for weight loss will help you break down what you want to achieve so that it feels less intimidating. The less you struggle during your weight loss journey, the more likely you are to keep going until you find success.

Weight loss is about changing your daily habits. That’s hard work. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be a new weight loss program popping up every other month or so.

The whole weight loss process is going to have its ups and downs. But remember: you’re worth it.

To get you started, I’ve put together a list of ways to help you lose weight. I hope that there are some fun ones in there that resonate with you. After all, there’s no law that says weight loss can’t be fun.

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