Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Robinwood Medical Center. Green Entrance. Room 122. Every third Tuesday evening. 6:00-7:00 p.m. Definitely where I needed to be last night. I went to my first support group meeting for patients of The Weight Loss Clinic in Hagerstown, MD. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never been to anything like this before and quite honestly, I should have gone a long time ago, but kept finding excuses why I couldn’t make it. I guess I didn’t want to admit to myself that I needed something like this. But I did. And I do. About 25 people were there. All of us with two things in common. We’re overweight and everyone in attendance has had one of two types of weight loss surgery- gastric bypass or lap band. When I first walked into the room, there were 3 people there… The leader of the support group (who is not at all overweight, by the way), an extremely overweight woman (I would estimate her to be at least 450 lbs.), and me (somewhere in between). I signed in and tried to make myself look busy rummaging through my purse, for what I have no idea. I just didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone. I don’t know why. Quickly the room filled up and the meeting began. I met a woman beside of me who had gastric bypass surgery 2 years ago and is now a size 8. She’s lost 170 lbs. She looks amazing! Then I met the woman in front of me (the one who I estimated to be about 450 lbs) . She had surgery 5 months ago and has lost 69 lbs so far. Awesome! Then I met a woman who had lap band surgery, like me, around the same time I did. She’s lost 25 lbs. Way to go! Oh my, why didn’t I come sooner? We spent the first 30 minutes listening to the leader speak to us about setting and maintaining goals. The information was really good. Then for the next 30 minutes, we split into 2 groups. Gastric bypass patients on one side and lap band patients on the other. We went around the circle giving our names, our surgery date and how much weight we’ve lost. I heard some success stories and a few who weren’t so successful. Then came my favorite part of the evening. We got to ask questions. Most of the people had surgery long before I did, so they were able to answer all of my questions, and trust me, I had lots of them! At the end, we had the opportunity to sign up for a clothing swap if we were interested . I would loved to have done it, and still might, but everyone there was already larger than me, so I wouldn’t be able to benefit from it. Bummer. But anyway, I want to share with you what we talked about during the first part of the meeting. This information would be beneficial for anyone, not just people trying to lose weight. And with it still being the beginning of the year, it’s a great time to put this into practice. Using the S.M.A.R.T. method, you are much more likely to be successful in reaching your goals.
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Who are you going to have to support you in your goal? What are you going to do? What is your goal? When would you like to accomplish your goal by? How are you going to do it?
Ensure that your goal is very specific. For example, instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose____ lbs, or ___ in. off your waistline, or to walk 3-5 times per week for 30 min.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Choose a goal with measurable progress so you can see the change occur. For example, “I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on my own before my birthday” shows the specific target to be measured. “I want to be a good reader” is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goals.
Don’t make your goals absolute. Give yourself a little room.
Don’t keep your goals to yourself. You need accountability.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Don’t wait for inspiration to start reaching your goals. Begin the work necessary and the inspiration and motivation will follow.
Goals you set which are too far out of reach, you probably won’t commit to doing.
A goal needs to stretch you so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you.
This is not a synonym for “easy.” Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.” It means that the skills needed to do the work are available. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but shouldn’t break them!
Set a time frame for the goal: for next week, in three months, by my birthday. Putting an end point to your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at anytime. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
EVERYONE WILL BENEFIT FROM GOALS AND OBJECTIVES IF THEY ARE SMART.