Goal setting is an often-overlooked, but critical part of the weight loss journey. Goals are critical because they illuminate overall objectives and help you stay focused. More, establishing specific milestones to celebrate along the way increases motivation along the way – even when phentermine stops working. Aim to establish SMART goals for weight loss that detail exactly how, when and with whom you will achieve your aims.
SMART Goals for Weight Loss
Research shows that “SMART” goals are reached more often than their vaguer counterparts . While originally promoted as a project management strategy, these structured and specific goals prove valuable in every aspect of our lives. This is because making goals SMART promotes accountability, identifies specific milestones, and helps delineate a definite plan of action .
The five characteristics of SMART goals are:
Specific A goal should be specific. People are more likely to finish a task when we know exactly what we need to do, and how to do it. The same holds true for weight loss goals. To help specify your target, ask yourself: who, what and how. Using these responses, you can more clearly define your final objective and how you’ll reach it. For example, you can change “lose weight” to “I will lose weight to decrease joint pain by eating more vegetables and fewer sweets”. The second version of this goal is much more specific, and therefore better.
Measurable A goal should be measurable. While willpower is important, it eventually fades. For that reason, it is helpful to have a quantifiable performance target. Make sure your goal has something you can measure to determine if you are on track or not. For example, you can transform the general “work out more” to a measurable “work out 25 minutes per day”. By making the target measurable, it is simple to determine whether you are meeting it or not. No excuses allowed!
Attainable A goal should be attainable. You should identify a target that challenges you, but is still reasonably within your abilities. If the goal is too challenging or overly-ambitious you may give up before you even start. Choose goals that you can realistically achieve with some level of dedication, but that don’t require you to change (or learn) everything all at once. For example, you can modify “I will eat salad for every meal except breakfast” to a more attainable “I will eat salad for five meals per week”. With this change, you have made your goal much more achievable. As you achieve (and maintain) early goals you can gradually revise them to provide a continued challenge.
Relevant A goal should be relevant. The endpoint you are aiming for should directly relate to the overall outcome that you are trying to achieve. For this reason, you should establish 1-2 core ideas that specifically relate to your most important health goals. For example, if your overall goal is weight loss, make sure to structure at least one goal around losing weight (e.g. a specific calorie goal). Even though other factors and goals may also prove important in your more general journey towards self-betterment, make sure you have a couple of objectives that are highly relevant to your main goal.
Time-Bound Goals should be time-bound. Do not give yourself unlimited time to reach a goal. Choose a target that you can reasonably achieve in about three months (or ninety days). If you need to establish milestones along the path to your final target that’s perfectly okay, just make sure to give yourself deadlines. If there is no time sensitivity associated with the change, there’s little motivation to prioritize it after the initial excitement wears off. So, it is important that goals are time-bound. For example, you can update “lose 20 pounds” to “lose 20 pounds by October 1st“ to make it a stronger, time-limited goal.
SMART Goals for Weight Loss: Examples
Here are two quick examples of how to transform a vague, regular weight loss goal into a SMART goal.
Original Goal: Lose weight
Who? What? How? I want to lose weight. I will eat and drink no more than 1600 calories a day, exercise 3 times per week and take phentermine every day.
I can measure 20 pounds with a scale.
Yes, 20 pounds is an achievable amount of weight loss with the help of phentermine.
Yes, weight loss is an important goal for me right now.
This goal will be acheived two months from today’s date
Final SMART Goal: I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 2 months by eating about 1600 calories a day, going to the gym 3 times per week and taking phentermine every day.
Original Goal: Reduce need for blood pressure medication
Who? What? How? I want to decrease/eliminate need for blood pressure medication. I will follow a calorie-controlled, low-sodium diet to help myself lose weight and reduce blood pressure while taking phentermine. I will also start walking 3x per week.
Currently taking lisinopril 30mg once a day to control blood pressure. Want to decrease daily dosage or entirely eliminate need for medication.
Yes, it should be possible to decrease my blood pressure and related need for medication with healthy weight loss, diet and exercise.
Yes, I want to stop taking these pills since I am so young and don’t think I should need these sorts of medications yet.
I want to decrease my lisinopril dose by the time I finish my first 3 months with phentermine.
Final SMART Goal: I want to decrease my need for lisinopril in the next 3 months by following a low-sodium diet, walking 3x per week and taking phentermine to lose weight.
Phentermine Weight Loss Goals
Most people start phentermine with a final goal in mind, but that endpoint may take months to reach. In the meantime, it proves helpful to establish smaller, more manageable milestones. With each accomplishment you will feel a boost of confidence and be one step closer to your final goal! Here are a few weight loss goal ideas for months one to three on phentermine:
Month One on Phentermine
The effects of phentermine are the strongest at the start. You will feel the most noticeable boost of energy and appetite suppression during this time. Unfortunately, side effects including dry mouth, nausea, constipation, slight dizziness and insomnia are also common in the first month.
Month one goal ideas:
Drink 2 liters or more of water per day
Eat at least 5 servings of non-starchy fruits and vegetables per day
Stop drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
Cut out caffeine sources (coffee, cola, energy drinks, caffeinated tea)
Go to bed earlier: aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night
Walk around the block 3 times per week; increase slowly as tolerated & permitted by doctor
Write down all food and activity every day for one month
Month Two on Phentermine
Most patients have passed through the most severe side effects of phentermine by month two, but still feel the desired effects of the medication. As you enter this second month, check-in with your doctor and recommit to your weight loss goals!
Month two goal ideas:
Start exercising more frequently or at higher intensities, pending your doctor’s approval
Learn a new, healthy recipe each week
Eat out 3 or fewer times per week
Forgive yourself for slip-ups and don’t go to extremes to recover
Set non-scale goals (like walking up a flight of stairs or going down a size in clothes)
Month Three on Phentermine
As you come towards the end of your phentermine prescription, you may start noticing that the pill is becoming less effective. With less energy and more of an appetite than you had during the start of your prescription, this is an important month to focus on establishing healthy routines that you can stick to long-term.
Month three goal ideas:
Find an exercise you love and do it most days of the week
Try a new workout that challenges different muscle groups
Stick with your calorie goals, even as appetite increases
Identify situations that trigger you to overeat and develop a coping strategy
Establish a plan to maintain phentermine weight loss long-term
Continue to set non-scale goals and celebrate non-scale victories
1. Shaw, R. L., Pattison, H. M., Holland, C., & Cooke, R. (2015). Be SMART: Examining the experience of implementing the NHS Health Check in UK primary care. BMC Family Practice, 16(1), 1. doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0212-7
2. Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.). SMART Goals – How to Make Your Goals Achievable. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm