A common approach that I used before to lose weight was to set a weight goal target to reach. I planned around this, and made a lot of actions to reach it. Looked for diet plans, exercise methods to burn the maximum amount of fat, and also optimized my rest, so I get lean, and I reach my weight goal.
However, there were hidden goals I have not considered, when I set my target weight as THE GOAL to reach. In fact, I didn’t want just to reach a weight goal. I wanted to stay at that weight, and live healthy, have fun, enjoy myself, and I didn’t want to focus on losing weight in all my life. It was OK to work on it for a period, but not to the end of my life… I wanted to spend my energy on other things vs. focusing on the scale and what I can eat or not.
So what happens, when I set a weight loss goal as the target of my “project“? My learning from project management is that usually the goals we set are sooner and later are reached. And the goals that we don’t set, are not reached.
As efficient and determined I was, I reached my weight goal. And there I was, with my new weight. So what now? I started to “cheat” again, eat more, skip exercise, and gradually abandon all those “hard to do” things that I did to lose weight. Of course, all the weight started to come back.
This was not OK, and I started to reflect, what I was doing, and discovered, I cannot fault myself – I had set a goal, and I reached, I was totally successful. However, I discovered that’s not what I really want, losing weight. In fact, what I want is a lean body, having fun, enjoying exercise, eat nice food, do things that I like.
If I want to live healthy and lean, I should set my goal around this – living healthy. Reaching a target weight can be a milestone, or an important metric to see where I am in the process, but reaching a target weight is nothing more – a target weight.
The difference sounds small in how the goal is defined, but the actions plan to reach it can be very different. If I just want to reach a weight goal, I focus my actions on the most optimized method to lose fat, and that’s it. If I want to live healthy, and in parallel also drop fat, I focus my actions to find activities that I enjoy, fit in my lifestyle, serve my health, AND in the same time support my milestone of reaching a target weight.
In an example, this can look like this: I set the goal of losing 1kg (2lbs) a week. Therefore, I decide to count the calories I burn and consume, and change my diet, and exercise plans to fit this goal. I find a nutrition plan that has a faster effect, or I go for higher calorie burning exercises. I don’t enjoy these so much, but I rather prefer to lose weight faster, so I go for these. Then, I do a good job, and I reach my target weight. Because most of the activities I do are “work to reach my weight goal“, I don’t really enjoy the process, but I have the finish-line goals above my eyes, and I carry on despite all the negative ambiance around me. What happens then? I am there, reach my goal; I have my new weight, and finally, I can leave behind me all those painful activities. Most probably, I revert to the original activities that I liked, and… I start to gain back all those kilos/pounds.
During this whole process, when my focus is on losing weight, I am anxious, impatient; I want those kilos (pounds) off as fast as I can. I have this urge for things that “I must do“.
However, if my target is to learn to live healthy, my approach is different. I look for activities that I enjoy. For example, I like bike touring, and riding my bike a lot. Riding my bike at 15-20 km/h is considered slow among bikers, so for weight loss, it is not efficient at all. Nordic skiing and running burns the most, or triathlon biking. However, my goal is to integrate a new activity in my life that is healthy, and serves also my weight loss goal. It serves both. I might reach my weight target a bit later, but I will continue riding my bike even after that. I’m relaxed, I’m having fun, I feel free.
Are you on a journey to lose weight?
My recommendation is to stop for a bit.
Ask yourself this question:
What other goals I have in mind besides reaching my target weight?
- Enjoy being fit
- Use only little effort and energy to live healthy
- Stay at my newly acquired weight
- Live healthy in general
You shouldn’t drop your “weight goal target“. However, instead, transform it to be a milestone in your journey, or use it as a metric to confirm you are on the right path, and exchange your major goal to an image of you, living healthy.
The effect can be life changing. When your weight reaches a target as a milestone, instead of doing yo-yo and restarting a weight-change cycle, you can finally go forward, and continue living your healthy life.
If you had a “weight goal”, and interested to change it to a new healthy lifestyle goal, there are easy to do exercises for this, I will write about this in a later article.
Until then, I’m curious in your feedback.
What goals did you set in the past?
What is your experience with goals you set – did you reach them or not?
How do you look like, what you do, how do you live when you live a healthy life?
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