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Shape Up: Goal setting for effecive weight loss

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Model Adriana Lima attends the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show After Party at Dream Downtown on November 9, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Model Adriana Lima attends the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show After Party at Dream Downtown on November 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

Andy Kropa

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Model Adriana Lima attends the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show After Party at Dream Downtown on November 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

The new year is under way and one week in many resolutions have either been broken or never even started. The truth is that you rarely stand a chance of success.

You see there is something that you need to know. Certain sections of the media have set you up for failure. They started you on a merry-go-round of feeling that with the commencement of a new year, it was imperative to set goals, probably for one of the big three: weight loss, quitting smoking or earning more money.

They know full well that you will most likely fall off the wagon before it picks up any momentum.

As a fitness expert and someone who has helped many people lose weight and get in better shape, I can tell you (and statistics prove) that most people who resolve to lose weight in the new year are destined to fail. And sometimes one of the reasons people fail is because they sabotage themselves. I see this all the time.

You probably believed the plans you made in mid-December to eat less in 2012, make better food choices and exercise more. But those goals are too vague and probably unrealistic.

If you want to start new behaviours in your life you have to be completely ready. In order to achieve your goals you need to be prepared, you need to break down each section of the journey into small, easy-to-follow steps.

Effective goal-setting goes beyond writing your ideal weight on a post-it. It is a process where your everyday actions and behaviours will determine your outcome. Below I have set out six steps to help you set your weight-loss goals, no matter when you want to start.

Step 1: Assess your starting point

Measure your current weight/body fat percentage, circumference measurements and take a 'before' photo. Take front, side and back photos. This provides a starting point from which we can chart where we are coming from to where we want to go.

Step 2: Determine the exact goal weight/body fat percentage you want and attach a deadline to accomplish it

An end date is important as it reduces your wiggle space to procrastinate and make excuses.

Step 3: Determine what the price is that you're willing to pay

Are you prepared to train four times a week and to take a break from consuming alcohol? If we continue to do what we have always done we will continue to get what we always have.

If you are not prepared to make changes to your lifestyle you may have to change or modify your current goal.

Step 4: What behaviours and actions will give me my outcome?

To chop a large oak tree down would seem overwhelming but if you took five swings with a sharp axe every day it

would eventually fall down. What everyday actions will help you achieve your goal?

"I will train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 10.30am for 45 minutes. I will consume a protein-based breakfast with healthy fats every morning. I will go to bed to recover by 10.30pm every night."

Step 5: Make a list of intermediate goals with deadlines

Management expert Peter Drucker says what we measure gets managed and what gets managed improves. Break down the weight-loss goal into weekly targets.

Step 6: Keep a detailed training and food diary

A training and nutrition log is the profit and loss account that will determine your weight-loss success. Record everything -- the distance and speed you ran, weights lifted and the duration of your workout and every morsel of food or liquid that passes your lips.

It is imperative that you focus on the daily actions and the outcome will take care of itself. Weight loss begins with a goal but you need to be ready to set one -- don't feel pressurised into doing so.

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