Goal Setting after Bariatric Surgery: Focus on the Behavior, Not the Weight
Reaching a certain weight is on many patients’ minds throughout their journey before and after bariatric surgery. While weight goals motivate a lot of people, they can be also put too much focus on the scale rather than on healthy behaviors, but this sort of puts the cart before the horse. If instead you put more focus on behavior change, not only will this help you reach your health and weight goals, it will also help you maintain your weight and healthy lifestyle.
I’ve had a lot of patients over the years that only focused on the scale. This often led to frustration when the scale didn’t meet their demands. On the other hand, patients that had behavioral goals, like running a 5K or preparing healthy meals, were able to see their progress outside of just a number. That’s why I never give my patients a weight goal. It’s not the weight that matters in the end. It’s how you feel and how well you can keep the good life going long-term.
One way to focus on behavioral change goals is to make them SMART. You may have seen this acronym before, and for good reason. It works! Let’s go through it now to see how you can apply it to your journey.
Specific. Specify exactly what you want to do and when. You can easily brush aside goals that are too vague.
Specific: Starting on Sunday, I will put my weekly vitamins in my pillbox to carry with me to work. I will also set reminders at 10.00 and 15.00 on BariBuddy to help me remember to take them with my snacks.
Not Specific: I will be better about taking my vitamins.
Measurable. Being able to measure your achievements will give you a way to evaluate your progress.
Measurable: Using my 1L water bottle, I will make sure I drink 1L of water by 14.00 and another liter by 20.00 every day.
Not Measurable: I will work on drinking more water.
Achievable. It’s important to challenge yourself to get where you want to go. At the same time, setting a goal that is out of reach or unreasonable can set you up for failure.
Achievable: I will wake up 30 minutes earlier so that I have time to eat breakfast and pack my lunch before going to work.
Not Achievable (unreasonable): I will wake up 2 hours earlier to cook, workout, and get the kids ready for school.
Relevant. Make sure your goal is something that you want to accomplish and is aligned with your priorities.
Relevant: I will include a source of protein and produce with every meal and snack.
Not Relevant: I will keep a detailed food record of everything I eat even though it makes me feel like I’m on a diet.
Timely. Give yourself a timeframe for meeting your goals. It’s easy to push things aside if you don’t feel a sense of urgency.
Timely:I will start my Couch to 5K program on Monday so that I’m ready for the New Year’s Day 5k walk/run that I signed up for.
Not Timely:I will run a 5K someday.
What are some behaviors you want to work on to help meet your health goals? Try applying the SMART method and see how it works for you!