Enjoy Greater Success with the Right Type of Goals
You’re fixated on achieving the same weight as you were when you married. Or you’re determined to get under the 10 or 12 stone mark, yet you don’t seem to be able to get back there. We often hear these goals being cited in our clinics and we have to ask ‘Why’?
Why do you want to be that exact weight again? Why are you so hung up on such a specific figure? Although it’s great to be specific with your goals, it’s also important that they’re realistic (and flexible) and that they’re based on something other than just the scales. For instance, knowing that you want to be a dress size or two smaller is fine, but saying to yourself that you must reach a weight of exactly 9 stone and 2 pounds is not.
Believe it or not, unrealistic and overly aggressive weight-loss goals could actually be undermining your efforts and setting you up for failure. When we continually strive but fall flat on our face, we suffer from low self-esteem and a sense of failure. In some serious cases, this can even lead to depression, eating disorders or very poor eating habits, such as bingeing. But there is another way to approach weight loss that can work for us much better. It’s starts with being a little kinder to yourself.
Check Out These 5 Ways To Make Sure You Have The Most Appropriate Goals For Your Circumstances
1. Focus on ‘Process’ Goals: Goals for weight loss can focus on outcomes or the process. An outcome goal — what you hope to achieve in the end — might be to lose a certain amount of weight. While this goal may give you a target, it doesn’t address how you will actually reach it, plus it might feel too far away or too hard to reach.
By focusing on a specific weight you want to be, it may actually get you nowhere. Instead, by focusing on a process goal – such as trying to eat more greens or to walk 30 minutes each day – you are turning your attention towards your behaviours and your habits which are an integral part of achieving a healthier weight.
2. Don’t Forget Short-Term Goals: Long-term goals are great for helping you to focus on the bigger picture, aiding a shift away from the ‘diet’, quick-fix mentality, towards more of a lifestyle change. However, they may also seem too difficult or too far away, so it’s crucial we build in some shorter-term goals (and rewards!). If you’re ultimate goal is to lose a stone in three months, you could pick a shorter-term goal of managing to fill out your food diary and to walk 30 minutes each day between now and next week. If you achieve this on most days, make sure to build in a reward on Friday or Saturday, such as a massage or a new haircut.
When you’ve mastered these habits for a few weeks, then it’s time to add in longer exercise sessions and maybe work harder on your food to improve quality (for instance, by trying new recipes. Get inspiration here.
3. Rexamine What ‘ideal’ is: We’re constantly being ‘sold’ the idea of what the ‘ideal’ body shape – this is beginning to madden me as I think of the pressures on teenagers growing up! I’ve tried really hard to make sure my own children don’t focus on too much on their appearance, but it’s inevitable that – through social media, television or magazines – they will be influenced. We can only hope, as parents, that they have high enough self-esteem to cope with it. But that same pressure is on us too!
For years, women have been told how they should appear in order to be attractive. But now we are seeing men, especially younger men, coming under the same, destructive pressure (to have a six-pack and pecs!). Research shows that, over time we consciously – or unconsciously – internalize these cultural ‘norms’, evaluating ourselves and others in comparison to them. But, as we become more aware of these cultural messages regarding our identities, we can start to decide for ourselves and to draw new, more helpful conclusions.
It’s time that we start using our own, internal compass to decide what a healthy body shape means for us, rather than someone else dictating it to us. For more on this interesting topic, you can’t beat international body activity Ashley Graham. Take a look at her Tedx Talk.
4. Allow for setbacks: Setbacks are a natural part of behaviour change. Everyone who successfully makes changes in his or her life has experienced setbacks at some point. It’s better to expect them and develop a plan for dealing with them, rather than to pretend to ourselves that it will never happen.
I, myself, am trying to lose some weight for summer, yet I managed to polish off a (huge!) bag of Doritos the other night. The old me would have beaten myself up, probably leading to days of bad eating (the ‘I’ve ruined it now anyway so might as well keep going’ old attitude would kick in). Instead, I just said to myself ‘That’s okay – it’s just a slip. No big deal. I’ll get straight back on track’. No guilt. No beating myself up. And the next day was a day right on plan, as was the one after that. We’re all human. We will slip. It’s how we react that matters and being sensible really does pay off.
5. Be Realistic about How Long it Takes: The time it takes to lose weight depends on so many factors such as your starting weight, your age, your gender, hormones and your lifestyle. You also need to take plateaus into account, which are a normal part of most weight loss journeys (and don’t give up – almost all clients plateau at some time, and all do push through that plateau). How quickly you lose weight depends on so many factors, some of which you can’t predict or control. So instead of trying to rail against time, try to accept that it may just take a little longer than you hoped – you will get there.
Also, consider that it really is okay if it takes longer for the weight to come off, especially if, this time, it actually stays off. So many our clients on our Maintenance Programme manage to stay at their goal weight because they have learnt, not just new habits, but also a new and healthier relationship with food, and that can take time.
Finally, do remember to be open to adjusting your goals as needed as you progress along your weight loss journey.
For instance, I once had a client who was focused on achieving a particular weight but, as she progressed, she soon realised that it was body fat – rather than the scales weight – that mattered. In the end, she decided that a higher end weight would be fine, as long as she was happy with her overall body fat percentage. And she did achieve that; she felt and looked wonderful. Similarly if you start with small goals and achieve success, that new confidence may mean you’re now ready to take on bigger and bolder goals.
Don’t hold back – go for it! And enjoy all the little steps along the way!