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M&S Health & Nutrition

Setting Goals

Setting Goals

Getting Started

Research has shown us that by setting small, achievable goals makes losing weight seem like a less daunting challenge. This will help keep you motivated and more likely to stick to your weight loss plan.

As you are responsible for your own weight management, you also have to set your own goals. Not only will this keep you motivated to lose weight, it will also develop your self-confidence as you feel in control. The long-term goal for weight loss may be anything from a family wedding to a summer beach holiday.

Remember the goals you set for yourself need to be SMART;


If you set unrealistic or demanding goals you will never achieve them and you will be more likely to give up as it will all seem to difficult. Try making two changes to your diet and one on exercise every week. Here are a few SMART goal examples:

This week I am going to aim to;

  • Substitute the full-fat milk that I use for semi-skimmed milk
  • Change to low-fat spread
  • Eat one portion of fish
  • Eat breakfast everyday
  • Snack on fruit
  • Add 1 extra vegetable to my main meal every day
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift every day at work
  • Get off the bus a stop early and walk to work

These are small changes that you can make to your diet and lifestyle to help tip the balance in your favour. By incorporating a couple of these a week you enable yourself to make gradual but sustainable lifestyle changes.

Small changes can soon add up. For example:

  • Switching 1/2 pint of semi-skimmed milk to skimmed milk saves around 40 calories.
  • Having 1oz of low fat spread in place of 1oz margarine saves around 90 calories.
  • Substituting 1 can of an ordinary fizzy drink for 1 can of a diet fizzy drink saves around 130 calories.

If you made these three changes above you could save up to 260 calories.


There's little point in setting yourself goals if you don't monitor them. So at the end of each week it's really important that you have a look back over your goals and see how many you've managed to achieve.

  • If you achieve all your goals for the week - well done! Now you know that you can do it, maybe you should set some more challenging goals for the following week.
  • And if you achieved none - don't give up. Have a re-think about your goals. They obviously weren't realistic enough for you, have another think about what you could change, set some more goals and start again.

Keep a Food and Activity Diary

Another good way of monitoring how your new eating and exercise patterns are going is to keep a diary. By writing down your activity and everything you eat or drink can help yourself to focus on new areas of your lifestyle that could be improved, but also to identify areas that you've really improved on.

Our Food and Activity Diary also has a section for thoughts and feelings which can help you become more aware and identify specific events or triggers that influence your eating or activity. Greater awareness, can help you to adopt strategies to manage events or triggers that might sabotage your efforts to lose weight. It can also help you to identify positive behaviours that help you with your weight management and self-regulation.

Download your Food and Activity Diary

Track your weight

Keeping track of your weight loss using is another good way to keep yourself motivated. Weigh yourself at the same time every week and monitor over time.