The idea of setting goals and writing them down is overplayed like a favorite song on the radio. You need goals, it’s true. Writing them down or shouting them across Facebook & Twitter will indeed hold you accountable. True again. But you already know that because the message is so played out that even though it’s #1 on Casey Kasem’s Top 40, (may he rest in peace), you don’t want to hear it again.

None the less I’ve got a remix of an old song… Here’s my spin as it pertains to weight loss goals:

First, go ahead and be unreasonable. Set a long term goal that you are not sure you can obtain. A goal you don’t even want to write down. Then, break that goal up into small achievable goals and reward yourself as you reach each incremental goal. I know this works, because I did exactly that. And, here is my story…

Most of my life I’ve worn the same pants size and with a 5-7lb yo-yo, been about the same weight from high school through to four babies. Granted, first semester of college the freshman 15 was more like a freshman 30 on me. I went home and my mother literally told me I was getting chubby. Horrified, I started running with my Dad and by the time winter break was over, the excess was gone. My mother always goes with brutal honesty, and for that I thank her.

A couple years ago we moved into a wicked fun neighborhood. Which means it is full of people that know how to throw a good party. Between the wine, Halloween candy and the fact that I had stopped working out when we moved, (overwhelmed with the packing and unpacking); I was rapidly becoming what my husband refers to as a chubby cutie. And when I say refers to, I obviously mean he never called me that or he would be what I refer to as dickless hottie.

At the time, I didn’t even own a scale. However, the tipping point for me was having to go out and buy new jeans. Throughout my life, I have refused to size-up my wardrobe. If clothing starts to get tight, I consider that the warning bell to get my ass moving and start eating right. So, actually having to size-up was deeply upsetting to me. I went out and bought a scale, stepped on, and realized I was in my second tri-mester of a pregnany… except I wasn’t pregnant. Then I cried. After a good long pity party, I decided it was time for some hard core goals.

Always an overachiever, I didn’t want to just lose the 15 lbs, I wanted to lose 20 lbs and get in the best shape of my life. I was 36 years old and I wanted to be high school skinny – but even better than my high school body, because I was aiming to be strong as an ox.

Having been a business major, fully versed in long term and short term goal setting, I knew I needed to set some goals within the long term 20 lb plan. First, ten pounds and then I got a glass of wine. Yup, I went off the sauce: that’s how motivated I was.

Around that 10 lb achievement, my husband looked over at me and said, “I can really tell you are losing weight.” I smiled internally and was about to thank him when he added, “I think you’ve dropped like two cup sizes.”

I considered reducing him a whole cup size…

Along with going off the sauce, I started working out hard six days a week and tracking my calorie intake on myfitnesspal.com. I hate tracking calories, but doing so taught me a lot about portion sizes and kept me honest.

My next goal was another four pounds and my reward was a cute yoga top I saw on Athleta… 2 more lbs and I could buy a new bikini. You get the idea. My big prize came when I hit the 20 lb mark (re-pierce my belly button), and before I could actually get out and reward myself… I had lost 22 pounds. If my goal had only been to lose what I thought was attainable, I may have only lost ten or fifteen pounds. Which is why I tell people to aim beyond where you think you can reach. Chances are, you are capable of more than you believe.

So, aim high, set small achievable goals within your larger goal, and give yourself rewards along the way. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you have set backs. Everyone does. You haven’t actually failed until you give up.

PS – The picture here is me post the 60 day Insanity challenge… and I was one month shy of 37 years old.