Goal-setting is the first step in establishing your personalized weight-loss plan that may help you better manage your back pain and/or sciatica and improve your health. Goals help you focus, direct you to take your next steps, and keep you motivated because they are a tool to measure your success.
Break up your long-term weight-loss goal into manageable and attainable short-term segments. Here are 5 tips to help you get started.
Tip #1. Be Specific
First, you have to figure out what you really want. For example, you may ask yourself, “How many pounds do I want to lose,” or “How many pounds do I need to lose to reduce my back pain?” or “I want to learn how to eat better to control my weight and pain.”
Tip #2. Set Short- and Long-Term Goals
Short-term goals are those you can expect to reach within a couple of weeks. They are stepping stones to your long-term goal. So, if your long-term goal is to lose 35 pounds, your short-term goal might be to lose 5 pounds in a month.
Other short-term goals that can help you reach your long-term weight-loss goals may include:
Aside from your long-term weight-loss goal, consider regularly cooking with ingredients that help reduce inflammation and pain, such as turmeric and ginger. In this case, your short-term goal is to start collecting recipes that incorporate these spices.
Tip #3. Stay Realistic
Don’t set yourself up for failure. That means—set goals that are realistic and achievable. For instance, if you normally eat a lot of convenience and fast foods, and your goal is to cook healthful dinners from scratch 5 nights a week, make sure your schedule allows for the extra time it may take to cook.
Be sure to factor in the time it takes to find recipes, make a shopping list, get all the ingredients you need during the week, and clean up after cooking. If that’s not realistic right now, set your goal for, say, 3 nights a week until your schedule lightens up or cooking from scratch becomes an established habit and therefore, easier to accomplish more often.
Tip #4. Establish Your “State of Mind”
Remember that weight-loss goals can also be behavior goals, or “state of mind” goals. These types of goals include:
A behavioral change could include meditation classes to help alleviate stress, which in turn could help you eliminate stress-related behaviors such as eating junk food for comfort. It could also be staying abreast of new research that relates to diet, pain, and the connection between the two. And, of course, when it comes to weight control and overall health, any physical activity you can safely do, including walking, is much better than no exercise at all, can help boost your spirits, and could give you a little more leeway in your diet.
Tip #5. Stay Open-Minded
Keeping an open mind means being flexible—a key to successful change. It takes time to break old habits and make healthy changes permanent. Trying new things—even if they don’t involve diet or pain relief—can help you stay open-minded in general.
You may find it helpful, and even therapeutic to keep a journal and write about your journey toward weight-loss and healthier living. A journal can help you keep track of your goals, recognize your own eating patterns, explore your feelings from day to day, and look back at your successes when you need motivation in the future.
Lastly, don’t belittle yourself if you fall off the wagon and back into old, less healthy ways of eating. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn damage control. When you’re ready to try again, simply reset your goals and review your options.