How to Set Successful Weight Loss Goals 11 July 2013

Did you know it can be harder to lose three pounds than it is to lose “two to four” pounds? Yes, that old adage, “half dozen of one, six of another” may have merit when it comes to losing weight.

In a new study published by the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers found that setting very specific weight loss goals can actually make it harder to lose weight. Instead, the better approach is to be flexible but have ambition, and setting “high-low” ranges help people hit their targets. For example, saying to yourself that you want to lose “1-2 pounds” this week can be easier instead of looking at a scale and saying, “I’m 181.6 and I want to hit 180.”

The researchers from Florida State University and Washington University in St. Louis compared two groups, one with high-low goals and another with specific goals, and asked each to work toward losing weight during a specific time period. What the researchers found is that those in the high-low group re-enrolled in the weight loss program when it was finished in order to continue losing weight, while most of the specific-goal group did not.

“High-low range goals influence consumer goal re-engagement through feelings of accomplishment, which itself is driven by the attainability and challenge of the goal,” the researchers stated. “Consumers experience a greater sense of accomplishment when a goal is both attainable and challenging, and this makes them want to continue to pursue or re-engage their goal.”

How this works, in the example of losing “two to four pounds,” is that the four-pound mark sets a high goal toward which a lot of effort must be given in order to meet it. However, the two-pound goal is there as a “fail-safe” and serves as a very attainable goal, which, if met, still provides satisfaction. Setting a rigid number like “three pounds” is an all-or-nothing approach and can leave a person feeling less accomplished if they only lost two pounds in a particular time period.

Setting a range goal is like having the best of both worlds – success hitting the low mark but always striving toward hitting the high one.

What about you? Do you find yourself more successful when setting a range goal?

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Weight Loss/Goals & Monitoring

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