Wednesday Bubble: Want to lose weight? Set better goals!

Posted by on Jun 26, 2013 in weight | 0 comments


I can only imagine that you are rolling your eyes at the headline. But according to newly published research, how you set your weight loss goals may ultimately determine how successful or not you are at realizing them.

Let me break it down for you:

Menopause is challenging enough when it comes to weight gain and belly fat and the rest. However, are we setting ourselves up for failure when we tell ourselves that we want to lose “3 lbs?” Researchers from Florida State University and Washington University say a resounding “yes!”

They say that there is a distinction between making high-low range goals (I want to lose 2 to 4 pounds) and single number goals (I want to lose three pounds this week). This distinction makes an enormous difference, at least in terms of reengaging, i.e. doing something once and then doing it again — either by setting the same goal or setting. The high-low option actually offers an out, so to speak or as the researchers state “best of both worlds.” In other words, ¬†it’s a win-win whether or not you lose one pound or three pounds; both fall into the range that you set at the start. Conversely, a single number sets us up for ‘all or nothing’ or as I like to say, all or nothing in between. After all, isn’t is amazing when you set up to lose a pound and end up with a two pound bonus?!

To test out their hypothesis, the researchers 45 adult women around 45 years of age to establish a single number weight loss goal or high-low weight loss goal for a week over three weeks.  During this time period, they attended one hour group sessions and learned about healthy lifestyle practices and weight loss was measured weekly. After three weeks, they had the option of reengaging for another 10 weeks. To avoid generalization of findings, the study was also repeated but this time, the goal had to do with overeating a regular sized bag of M&Ms and focused on achieving a target number.

So, how did the participants do?

In the weight loss study, more patients setting high-low goals reenrolled in the second portion than those setting single number goals. In the second study, the high-low goal left the participants with greater levels of accomplishment and a significantly greater interest in reengaging in goal setting again.

The key? Attainable and challenging.

Look, these numbers are small and not definitive. But it should make you stop and pause: is the way that you are setting your weight goals setting you up for success or failure? Interesting question, right?

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