Goal Setting: Baby Steps DO Count!

Filed in Goal Setting, Uncategorized by on April 17, 2013 23 Comments

Baby steps DO count!Last week I got into a heated debate with my good friend….to the point where she was calling me “sweetheart” (and believe me, she didn’t mean “sweetheart” as a term of endearment!)

We were arguing about the best way to weight loss and the definition of a “diet.”

We both had started Weight Watchers about a month ago (it’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions to get my “pre-baby” body back!), and we disagreed about whether I am officially “on a diet.”

She says I am.

I say I’m not.

Those points aside, since they’re a little off topic……

…..I went to her yesterday, moaning about how I had “only lost 2-3 pounds” in this last month since starting the program. Instead of supporting me and congratulating me on the progress, albeit slow, she insisted I needed to be on a restrictive diet instead of the “just-trying-to-create-a-healthy-lifestyle” route I was taking.

Then she rubbed in my face the fact that she has already lost 9  pounds, compared to my inconsistent 2-3 pounds.

I began defending those same 2-3 pounds that I had just finished moaning about.

And the “Aha!” moment was when I remembered a favorite quote from Chris Gardener, from The Pursuit of Happyness:

Baby Steps_PIC

Why was I complaining over “only” 2-3 pounds??

My pants are fitting more loose…..I feel amazingly healthy…..I’m eating better and getting some exercise…..and best of all, my nasty “mom gut” is shrinking and I no longer fear someone will mistakenly say, “Ooooh! Yay! When’s the baby due??”

My baby steps are PROGRESS! I am moving in the right direction! I’m 2-3 pounds closer to my goal this month than I was last month!

After realizing that my perspective was totally out of focus, I thought about the rest of you that may be condemning your baby steps, instead of celebrating them….frustrated that you’re not getting where you’re going fast enough.

This post is hopefully going to help you see that you’re getting there, too!

Baby steps DO count!

How to Make Your Baby Steps Count in Goal Setting

What are the things that you’re working on that aren’t moving fast enough for you? Are you trying to pay off debt? Losing weight like me? Maybe you’re saving up for a special vacation or something and the balance just doesn’t seem to be growing fast enough.

I’m here to tell you that your baby steps COUNT!

These are the things we should probably keep in mind as we work on our goals so that we don’t get discouraged:

Stop comparing yourself to your friends!

You are not your friends. Their life, situation, motivation, opinions–everything–is totally different from yours, even if they’re your best friend. So don’t measure your success against them. Every time my friend would tell me how much weight she lost for the week, I felt worse about my own weight loss. But her body, her goal, her eating habits–are not my own. I can only compare myself to myself. Whether you’re losing weight, paying down debt, saving for retirement, starting a blog–whatever your goal–celebrate your own progress. We must remember:


Be realistic!

I’m not a goal-setting expert, but I do know that goals have to be realistic.  I’m 35 years old now. And I’ve got 3 little boys. And I weight about 170 pounds (yep, I was 173 last monh–progress!!). I need to get out of my head that “150 pound” standard when I was 25. I probably looked anorexic! Realistically, I should strive for 160; hell, I’d even look great at 165. You’ve got to be realistic, too. If your goal is to pay off your $5,000 credit card, can you really get it paid off in 3 months?? If not, don’t set yourself up for failure. Set a goal for a year….maybe even 2 years. Whatever is realistic. And stay positive when you see the balance going down, albeit only a few dollars each month. But, it’s going down! You’re moving forward! 


Measure it!

So because I was getting discouraged about the number on the scale, I started taking my measurements, and saw half an inch gone from my big ‘ole hips! More reinforcement that I’m making a difference! I write down my measurements, too, and track the numbers. You can do the same with your goals. Hang up a sign that shows your weight, then cross it out and write the new number below it! Or if you have a savings goal, every month write the new balance on a sheet of paper! Seeing where you started from is a lot of motivation to keep going.


Celebrate 10 Percent!

Recognize the “small wins.” When I signed up for Weight Watchers, they set small wins for you, like when you lose 10% of your body weight. I think that’s a great Rule of Thumb for all your goals! Imagine if you’re 300 pounds and you want to lose 100 pounds. Daunting, right?? But, going for the first 30 is sooooo much easier and more attainable in your mind! And when you get there, don’t pout, “UGH, I’ve only lost 30 pounds so far!” Celebrate it! Treat yourself to something nice. If you’re paying off that $5,000 credit card bill, reward yourself when you’ve reached $4,500 (10% paid off)!


So What About You….?

Do you give yourself enough credit for your BABY STEPS? How do you manage the baby steps?



Photo courtesy Free Digital Photos

About the Author ()

Serena Appiah is a wife and mom to 3 boys in the Washington, DC metro area who enjoys writing about family, finances, and raising children.

Comments (23)

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  1. anna says:

    Serena, if you weighed 173 when you good the Hawaii dress picture you must be 5’10”. You do not look in need of a diet. Maybe an exercise program would be more suitable.

    • Serena says:

      Hey, Anna! Yep, it’s true. I was 173 back during that Hawaii trip! It’s really hard to see the weight because you’re right–I’m 5’10”, so it spreads out everywhere. But it’s there. And I keep trying to “get back” to where I used to be before I started popping out babies 🙂 Imagine me 20 lbs lighter!! Not kidding!

  2. Kath DeLacy says:

    You look great!! But I can relate. I am also trying YET AGAIN to lose weight. I can’t even blame my weight on babies. I weighed 100 lbs at the time I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd. After the 2rd, I was probably 120ish maybe a little more, but I had basically been a twig up until I had kids. After the youngest started school full time, I re-entered the work force. Working in a school. Discovered this great place called the teacher’s lounge. There was always food in there. And coworkers’ birthdays to celebrate. And classroom parties. And birthday treats in the classroom. And so began the weight gain. I could easily put on 15 lbs during the school year and take it off in the summer, just by walking. Once I hit the upper 30’s, the weight stopped coming off in the summer. I tried lots of diets and also used Slim Fast. Lost the weight. But it never stayed off. And when I gained it back, it brought its friends with it and I gained even more.

    I learned that diets don’t work. Lifestyle changes you can live with do. Weight Watchers I don’t consider a diet. They teach you how to eat. I personally am doing My Fitness Pal. Its free. I have an app on my phone. I plug in my food and it figures out the rest. Tells me how many calories I consumed and my percentages of fat, carbs, protein, etc. It gives me targets of where I should be. If I exercise, it converts that to calories burned. I have been doing this for 3 weeks (after a few weak attempts in the past where I gave up recording my food after about a week.) As of this morning I have lost 4 lbs. I will take it.

    I won’t diet again. I will also not give up foods I love. But I know from experience, if I keep my calories in check, regardless of what they are, I will lose weight. If I want dessert, I just need to make room for the calories in my daily budget. For me, half the battle is mental. I have to get my head in the right place or I can’t even get started. Currently, my head is there. So once I started seeing the little progress on the scale, I started working in a little exercise. I have knee problems and a bad back due to fracturing my spine in a car accident. So I will never be able to do really vigorous workouts. But I am walking on the treadmill, tho it does bother my knees. I also put on my itunes and move!! Kind of like Walk Away the Pounds exercises. Those are great videos and I used to do them even with my girls. I just can’t do some of the kickback things with my knees anymore.

    Anyway, I am 5’4″ and currently 168. Definitely not happy with that number, but its better than the 180+ I was a year ago, or the 172 I was 3 weeks ago. Will I see 100 again? No. Would 100 lbs be healthy for me at this point in my life? NO!! My currently goal is 160 by mid-June. (Hubby is taking me to the Outer Banks.) Once I hit that goal, I will set a new one. I don’t know what I want the final number to be. My body will let me know. Its taken me a long time to stop obsessing about being 100 lbs again. (Okay, maybe I haven’t stopped completely, as I still miss that number, but I thing I do have my head in a more realistic place.)

    Serena, keep celebrating your baby steps. You’re more likely to be successful doing it the smart way, than by the very restrictive diets.

    Good luck!! And congrats on the lbs you have lost. I am going to do my happy dance for you – and burn a few calories. 🙂

    • Serena says:

      Kathy, love your comment! LOL about the “happy dance” and burning a few calories. 🙂 HAHAHA. Sounds like you’re THERE–at that place where you’re ready to be serious about your weight loss and ready to keep it off. Four pounds it a great start, too! What’s amazing is that 4 pounds sounds so small to us, but have you ever seen 4 pounds of fat?! I’ve seen pics on Dr. Oz what 5 lbs of fat looks like and it’s actually surprising. So celebrate your 4 pounds, ’cause I’m celebrating mine, too! I’ve noticed that my stomach doesn’t look so “pregnant” now. Three kids has stretched me out, and I won’t ever be able to do anything about that, short of surgery (which ain’t gonna happen), but the poofiness–I can do something about that! And these few pounds have dramatically shrunken my stomach so far. It’s amazing!
      Thanks for your vote of confidence, and let’s keep supporting each other as we shed these pounds and keep them off! 🙂

  3. Jenn says:

    Those are great tips! You have to remember that everyone measures success in different ways! Maybe you friend only focuses on the end goal where as you focus on the baby steps! Neither are wrong they are just different! I hope you guys celebrated with a green smoothie to make up!

  4. Janet Wood says:


    I love your quote as well as the other one, first I would like to say that its not a DIET its a LIFESTYLE CHANGE I have gone from over 300 to 126 the over 300 was the result of a accident in which the muscles in my back were really hurt, long story short I did not think of it as a DIET that means to us that we are deprived so Lifestyle is the term I used I started to really get serious at 225 and reduced consistently 2 pounds a week, (when you have more to reduce you reduce more) and you don’t have much to let go of and its all relative anyway, YOU yes YOU are doing fantastic they say that 1 inch of weight reduction in your measurements = 8 pounds I am so proud of you for taking your health serious and being a great role model for your kids, I went from a 3xx to a size 0 blue jean and a small to extra small top. I changed my life….and after that my friend and I had a car accident and my weight did fluctuate I did put on some from the cortisol from the stress but we were hit with a transport on the highway and we walked out ALIVE so a few extra pounds not a big deal I did it once I can do it again. you are doing amazing and you should be proud of yourself!
    Thanks for that gentle reminder to all of us!

    • Serena says:

      Wow, Janet, I’m glad you’re okay form your accident! Your story is an inspiration! You lost more than half your size! Amazing! And I totally agree with you that it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. That is what the argument with my friend was about. She kept insisting that I am on a “DIET” because I am CUTTING back on my calories. I agreed with her that on Weight Watchers I am indeed cutting back on calories, but I have NOT cut out anything. If I want cake, I eat it, but I don’t do it often, and I eat only 1/4th of it or something like that. I think of a diet as cutting back AND cutting out. Her opinion is that you SHOULD cut back and cut out for at least a while, until you wean yourself off of those foods, and then later you can introduce them back. I get her point. But if I want a slice of pizza, I’m not going to say, “No, you can’t have it.” I’m going to juggle my intake and make room for it in my calorie budge, the way Kathy above mentioned. So, you’re right, it’s not a diet. It’s a healthy eating plan and lifestyle change. Diets are temporary, and I don’t believe in temporarily shocking your body in order to lose weight. Someone on my FB said today “Slow and steady wins the race.” I totally agree! 🙂
      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Iain says:

    I think that we should count those small steps.

    I find myself not giving myself credit for those small wins.

    My girlfriend is much better at getting me to realize that I have made progress.

    We have to think about progress as progress no matter how much or little.

  6. Dawn Kropp says:

    Baby steps is what it’s all about! Small steps lead to big accomplishments 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful reminder…

  7. NIckida says:

    Baby steps are great all the time. I think sometimes we go get so caught up in our early years weight or pre-baby weight but we never consider that as we get older and things change so does out bodies. As long as you are healthy that’s what matters. Being skinny doesn’t make one healthy.

    • Serena says:

      Sorry for the late response, Nickida! I think you hit the nail on the head: we get a certain number or idea stuck in our head, from our past, not realizing that TIME HAS CHANGED. Like with me, I’ve got 3 kids now. Yeah, I’m not one of the lucky chicks whose stomach’s are made from rubber and bounce back 🙂 I’m stretched out, and won’t go back together again. I won’t ever have the same body from 25 years old! But that’s okay! As long as I feel good, look as good as I can for being a 35 year old mom of 3, then that should be good enough! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  8. This really resonates with me. This is a year of change – leaving the security of my career, having a new baby, redoing a new house, trying to lose the baby weight, establish an entirely new lifestyle. It’s no wonder I’ve been having panic attacks. The doctors wanted to medicate, but the whole “baby steps” approach has helped me avoid that. Good advice! You just can’t do everything all at once. We all need to rethink what “Superwoman” and “Supermom” mean!

    • Serena says:

      What a great comment on this post, Wendy! Sorry I’m late for responding to your comment, too. We can’t do it all. We just can’t. But if we’re doing a little each day, laying one brich at a time, until we get a wall, no matter how long it takes to build, then we’re doing the right thing! (I stole that analogy from Will Smith) 😉

  9. DawnC says:

    Everyone has to start some where. As long as you keep going forward you are doing great!

  10. Congrats! I’ve started walking and trying to eat healthier, it’s not much, but it’s better than what I was doing! Keep going you’re doing great!

    • Serena says:

      That’s a great accomplishment, Brittany! I can’t tell you how many times I have been lazy and said, “Oh, I should go exercise…but I don’t wanna.” Too many. But, to just get up and go for a walk, and motivate yourself to be healthy, deserves a pat on the back 🙂 Way to go! Thanks for commenting!

  11. Jennifer says:

    What a true and inspiring statement! Congratulations on your weight loss so far, I think you look great!

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