Setting goals #1

I didn’t set out to lose 125 lbs.  Rather, I set out to change how I ate and to increase my exercise.  I decided I would be happy with whatever weight loss accompanied those changed habits, if I could maintain them.  It just happened to be 125 lbs lost over 18 months, and kept off for another 20 months.

I just read a number of suggestions that are applicable to weight loss and my experience.  The article, by Heidi Grant Halvorson, from the Harvard Business Review (of all places), is called “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.”

I’ll go through some of them over the next few days and how they exemplify lessons I’ve learned.

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

One specific goal I had was to do strength training twice a week.  And whether I did it with a trainer or on my own, I put it on my schedule.  I still often do that – I make an appointment with myself, and record it, with text reminders on my Google Calendar.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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