I’ve been a blogger the natural health scene for several years now. This means that I have seen half a dozen New Years celebrations come and go. As I have done so, I have helped usher literally thousands of people through their New Years Resolutions.
Some have done amazingly well.
Many, unfortunately, have not.
There are many reasons, I think I have learned, as to why. There are many mistakes that people commonly make. Yet one of them is the most glaring to me, and also one of the easiest to fix.
This is the mistake:
People set weight loss targets – or goal weights.
Why is this a problem?
Setting a weight loss goal, say, of “I am going to lose 30 lbs by June of this year” or “I am going to finally reach my goal weight of 130 lbs” makes it harder to lose weight and keep it off.
It tends to keep your mind focused on the number on the scale. This draws you into making comparisons, judging your progress, and obsessing over how well you are doing. You may end up focusing on your appearance. This is bad because it keeps you away from the healthier and more sustainable alternative, which is to focus on other benefits of eating healthy and losing weight such as gaining energy, developing fitness, and freeing yourself from common complications of heavier weights such as joint pain.
When I was at war with my body fat for the first twenty or so years of my life, I constantly focused on my goals. I measured my hips with a tape measure after every workout. When I did that, I noticed immediately if I had done “good” – that is, if I went down a half an inch. This was cause for celebration – which might lead to me feeling confident and eating some ice cream (here’s a link to the good stuff). I also noticed immediately if I had done “bad’ – that is, if I went up half an inch. This was cause for frustration and disappointment, which might lead to me feeling terrible and eating ice cream. Even if I resisted eating the ice cream for a while, it always won in the end.
When i was finally successful at reaching and maintaining a healthy weight that felt good on my bones – I had done so because I stopped obsessing over my goal. I stopped day dreaming about where I might be some day. I know that sounds weird – if I didn’t think about my goal, how could I be motivated? But trust me.
What I did was focus on a system. I decided to think about health. I decided to eat well. I developed a plan (which I describe at length in my manual for weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s Solution) and I followed it. I might have vaguely noticed my “progress”, and I do still vaguely keep track of my size — mostly by whether or not my clothes still fill — but this was not my obsession.
It was okay for me – and it would be okay for you – to distantly keep an eye on how you are doing. But that is entirely besides the point. If you start on a program that you trust, and know that it is rich in health benefits no matter your size, then it is good for you, and it is the system worth focusing on, not the goal.
Don’t think about where you are going, or what you want your body to be. That would be focusing on the destination. Instead, think about the how of your every day life, and the benefits that it is bringing you on a day to day basis. This would be focusing on the journey. Sure, you might drop weight in the long run, but in the short run are you not experiencing better sleep, clearer skin, less painful menstrual cramps, or anything else?
The key to losing weight is dropping the obsession over losing weight. This doesn’t mean you can’t try, or shouldn’t care, which I talk about at length in this blog post: My 6 Favorite Reasons for Losing Weight. What is does mean is that the goal is best as secondary, in the background. Implementing a system, doing it well, and enjoying the benefits along the way is the best way to keep yourself both mentally and physically happy as you move into a new year and a newer, more energetic, more alive you.
If you do happen to be looking to lose weight in a sustainable, permanent, and healthy weight this year, I personally have had great success – as have many of my clients and my audience – with the methods I explain in Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Women’s Solution. If you are possibly interested but not sure, don’t worry. You can try it on for size and if you don’t like it you’ll get
All my best and love to you on your new years journeys, whether they be weight oriented or not. Other great suggestions, and ones that I am personally thinking much about, might be committing yourself to more service, donating more money, or finding and developing your passions.
Implement systems; not targets. Don’t think about your goal, think about