I’ve lost 57lbs in 15 weeks. What does this mean? It means that on average I’m losing around 3.8lbs a week. What does that mean? That sometimes I lose more than that, sometimes less and sometimes I lose nothing, sometimes I might even gain a pound or two.
I just wanted to say that if I had set myself a target at the beginning of this healthy lifestyle to lose 3.8lbs per week I would have failed so many times. Oh there would have been weeks where I would have rejoiced at having exceeded my target but there would have been a good few where I would have felt like a miserable downhearted failure having fallen short.
That feeling of being a failure would have haunted me, it would have either haunted me like a floaty white friendly ghost and spurred me on to do better next week (unlikely) or it would have haunted me like a dark deranged demon and made me feel like it wasn’t worth it and made me start stuffing my face again and the whole plan would have gone out of the window (more likely).
Had the week come where I had stuck religiously to a healthy eating plan and where I had near killed myself with exercise and the scales showed that I had lost 2lbs or even 3lbs I would have failed against my target and I would have faced those nasty demons of self doubt and disillusionment and I could have faltered. Get that? Even when I had lost weight, if I had failed to meet my 3.8lb target I would feel like a failure.
Had the week come where I had done the same with regard to diet and exercise and hopped onto the scale to find I had lost nothing I would have spectacularly failed and I would have been swallowed by those same nasty demons. Let’s not even go into how I would have felt if I’d gained a half pound… that’s a whole world of hurt we don’t want to open up.
The reason I know what I would have done? Because I’ve done it so many, many times in the past. I’ve set targets, unrealistic or even realistic goals and there has come a week for one reason or another where the scale has not been my best friend and it has cut me to the core and it has sent me back on a downward spiral and I have regained weight and then some.
This isn’t about SMART targets they are for work, this is for your life. We don’t need to put time limits on our goals or targets when it comes to weight loss. They make it harder for us to get to our end goals…they do.
Set long term goals and write them down. Your eventual target weight should be a long term goal and doesn’t need breaking down into short and medium termed weight based targets, those targets should focus on something else. Along with your long term weight based goal set other long term goals which are not weight based, think about your clothes size, your health, your attitude to life, your relationships, your career, take a look at the whole picture. You are (or at least should be) changing huge chunks of your lifestyle, so much will be affected so take this time to sit and write your long term goals in all respects don’t just focus on weight loss.
If you do this you will find that you start to tick off those goals, lots of them, long before you tick off the weight loss goal and ticking them off will show that you are heading in the right direction it will spur you on to the ultimate objective of reaching an ideal (for you) weight. I say ideal for you because you should decide what you think is comfortable and right for you, use BMI as an guide but not as a definite. If you feel happy, healthy and fit as a size 14 then that’s good for you if you can maintain that. You don’t need to be skinny unless you want to be, and why anyone would want to be is beyond me. A bit of meat on the bones either muscle or fat is not the worst thing in the world.
Stop looking at those engineered before and after photos and setting your goal to look like the after picture in the reported 5 minutes, most of them are not true and are just marketing techniques and clever trickery to make you feel like crap. To sell you a quick fix which will more often than not make you fatter.
We all (at least those serial dieters among us) know that feeling of FWBL (First Week Big Loss) where we (especially the very overweight among us) lose 5, 7 or even on one occasion it was 11 pounds for me. It is euphoric, especially if it happens at a slimming club and we are straight onto our half stone award or a recipient of group applause.
What we do then (and excuse me if I’m mistaken and it’s only me who does this) we project that weight loss forward. We think, “Hmmm well if I can lose 7lbs this week I can do it next week, that means I can lose 14lbs a fortnight, 28lbs a month that means 2 stone a month, that means in 3 months I’ll have lost 6 stone and I’ll be slim”. Hands up if this sounds familiar.
Then the next week we get on the scale and find we’ve lost a pound or 2 or nothing and we are disappointed, depressed, disbelieving and we head to the chip shop our projections screwed up and thrown into the nearest bin. Am I right? Is anyone nodding in recognistion here?
So, as a serial dieter who has tried it all… Weightwatchers, Slimming World, Cambridge, Lighter Life, Juice Plus, The F Plan, Atkins and on… and on … and on, the lesson I’ve learned the hard way is DO NOT HAVE SHORT TERM WEIGHT RELATED TARGETS. Just don’t have them if they are measures in pounds or ounces or kilos or even inches. If you want targets make them more abstract and less time limited – think about my Tracey, she’s proving to be a fantastic target and measure of success but she has no time limit, she, the whole person is the target and I never said when I will achieve her by… certainly not short term in my head she is achievable by ‘sometime in 2015 maybe’. Anyone wondering what on Earth I’m talking about here’s a link that will make Tracey clear : Tracey and weight loss post or at the top right of my home page is the lady herself. I never look at chunks of Tracey and think “Hmmm by the end of August I will have another one gone then two in September…” I just don’t do it. Another method you could use is the tried and tested target piece of clothing a pair of jeans or a skirt and try it on now and then but don’t set a time on when you will be in it, just know that one day you will and that day you do get into it will be a fantastic day and you will be more likely to get into it if you don’t set yourself a time frame.
I do have pushes, where I refocus myself which inevitably result in a higher weight loss but they are driven by my own recognition of a lapse or a less structured and planned approach to what I am eating not by pounds lost or gained. Some ‘experts’ say that these sudden refocused efforts are really useful when it comes to weight loss as they give our metabolism a kick, so they are good for that too but don’t use them every week to get you to a target, just now and then if you’re on a plateau or you are needing that extra reinforcement of your plan.
If you set weekly or monthly weight loss targets you are going to run into a brick wall unless of course you know that you are very robust and resilient and can bounce back easily from disappointment. Our weight fluctuates for a million and one reasons, the way we process our food depends on so many variables, the way we store and use energy changes due to the influences of so many factors and to expect the complex human body to be predictable is a mistake.
However when we are obese or overweight and when we are dieting and exercising we can not appreciate that, we feel that we are a failure, that all our efforts were worthless and that we may as well just stuff our faces and be happy. We kid ourselves that we were happier before we were eating salad and before we were sweating on a treadmill for an hour a day. We actually believe sitting watching daytime TV stuffing a heap of mars bars and a family pack of crisps made us feel better than filling ourselves with nutrients and making our body move the way nature intended it to. You know some people think fat people are stupid and I’ll tell you what, when we make crazy judgments like that I think they may have a point.
Don’t have short term targets based on weight loss, just don’t. Make your weight loss your end goal not your week to week goal, make your week to week goals about introducing and including more healthy foods into your diet or drinking more water, make them about increasing your activity, taking up a new hobby, getting into a better sleep pattern, learning something new, trying a new exercise, doing more with your kids, looking for a new job, growing something you can eat… anything but weight. What is more, all of those healthy targets and goals will help you to lose weight while not focusing on it and you will achieve far more of your targets in a shorter space of time which will give you a mental boost which will help keep you on track and strangely enough get you to your end weight loss goal more swiftly.
I’m not sharing this because I want to make money or because I want fame I’m sharing this because I’ve been there time and again over 40 odd years and I’ve finally learned and I’m doing it right this time myself and I know it’s working. Removing those weight related goals has shifted the focus, I’ve not stopped weighing myself or thinking about weight in terms of pounds and ounces but it is not my FOCUS. Being healthy and happy is and focusing on those things is making me reach the weight loss goals so much more easily and quickly.