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How to use S.M.A.R.T. planning to hit your weight loss goals following surgery


By Dr. Dieter Pohl

Are you looking to lose weight, but are unsure where or even how to begin? Don’t feel alone. Starting a weight loss journey can be scary with no clear path to start. 

Let’s take a look at Samantha. She’s wanted to lose weight for some time now, but finds she can’t stick to any plan of action for longer than a few weeks at a time. A friend recommended she try S.M.A.R.T. 

S.M.A.R.T. is a system that encourages consistent progress towards accomplishing a goal. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s break it down.


Be Specific 

Samantha knows she wants to lose weight, so that’s been her objective every time she tries. The problem with this goal is that it’s too vague. She should instead define an endpoint, in this case a specific weight that she wants to hit. Samantha measures her height and weight at 5’4” and 200 lbs., giving her a Body Mass Index (BMI) of around 34. For reference, a healthy BMI is between 19 and 24. In order to achieve a normal BMI, Samantha needs to weigh around 140 lbs. which means she needs to lose 60 lbs. to achieve her goal. 


Be Measurable

Now that Sam has a specific goal she has to figure out a way to track if she is making progress. The most straightforward way is with a weekly weigh-in on an accurate scale. She should also log her weight in a journal to keep track of her long-term progress. By measuring her progress, Samantha can make informed decisions during her weight loss journey and adjust when necessary.


Be Attainable

Last time Samantha tried losing weight, she wanted to lose 70 lbs. in three months. While that may seem like a long time, it’s actually too short of a timeframe to safely and sustainably lose weight. Experts recommend a person on a weight-loss regimen lose 1-2 lbs. week; anything above that can be unhealthy. Samantha would have to lose 5.8 lbs. a week to hit 70 lbs. in three months, which simply isn’t attainable. During her last attempt she lost 2 lbs. for the first few weeks (which is great progress) but quickly became discouraged because she was nowhere near her unrealistic goal. This time around, Samantha picks a much more attainable goal. At 1.5 lbs. per week, it will take her 40 weeks to lose 60 lbs., or around 10 months.


Be Relevant

Samantha was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. This gives her some pause as to whether her goal of losing weight is appropriate right now. After consulting with a doctor, she discovers having a healthy weight is one of the most effective factors in managing Type 2 diabetes. A lower BMI is correlated with fewer health complications, increased longevity, and the ability to remain physically active. Sam determines that her goal to lose weight is very relevant to her current situation in life and that this would be a great opportunity to begin her weight loss journey.


Be Timely

Sam’s weight loss regimen will see her losing about one pound a week for a year. This is a very attainable and safe goal. However, weight management is a life-long journey and will extend far beyond Samantha’s year-long goal to lose 60 lbs. Samantha figures that giving herself a short-term deadline will motivate her to be more conscious of her goal if she is working towards a fixed date. But she also must create a long-term plan of action to maintain a healthy weight when she arrives at her goals. She will continue to weigh herself every Monday morning to monitor her weight to ensure she is not gaining any unhealthy and unwanted weight back.   


When asked about her weight loss goal, Samantha can say, “I want to lose sixty pounds in ten months, weighing in every week to ensure I’m losing a safe amount. When I achieve this, my Body Mass Index will fall in the normal range, and I will be healthier and happier for it.”

Now that’s S.M.A.R.T. 

Interested in seeing how a S.M.A.R.T. plan can help you achieve your goals following weight loss surgery?

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