Don’t just say you want to lose weight. I’ll tell you a secret, you actually can lose weight overnight. Don’t get too excited though. You will quite literally weigh less. That is your gravitational force will be lower, but…you’ll still look the same a couple hours later. Limiting sodium, various dehydration methods, fasting, and a whole host of other not so great methods can be used to weigh less (ask any professional wrestler).
But that’s not actually what you want is it? You want your old jeans to fit. You want to feel confident at the beach. You want to lose fat. You want to tone up. So your goal shouldn’t be to lose weight. Why? Well for starters it doesn’t do justice to your endeavors, but beyond this, by leaving your goal too broad limits your ability to track your success and progress.
If you say “I want to lose weight” and you don’t eat much one day, the next day…chances are you will have lost weight. And the day after that the weight will be back. If you say you want to lose fat, 4 inches around your waist, and fit into those old jeans, suddenly your goal is a lot clearer. And that half centimeter you lose around your waist won’t go unnoticed.
Remember how good it felt when you got an A on a test? Now think of what it felt like when you got an F. One motivated you to keep going, the other motivated you to try harder. Either way, the result was motivation. What if you only got a participation grade? Would you even care how you did on that test? I know I wouldn’t.
Without getting into the psychology of things, measuring progress (or lack thereof) of goals keeps you accountable, and as anyone who has ever had a coach, tutor, or a very invested parent will attest; accountability is a game changer. It’s the same reason the pandemic and working from home had us switching from our slacks to our sweatpants; when no one is watching it’s easier to, well, do the easy thing. For whatever reason it’s easier to disappoint ourselves than it is to disappoint someone else.
Define that goal, and make sure you can track it over time. Sticking with our weight loss goal, you would want to attach a quantitative measurement like number of inches or pounds lost, clothes sizes lost, or some other measure of progress. The key is to attach it to numbers, because numbers don’t lie.
This is the same principle behind me hating celebrity magazines. They’re just not realistic. You’ll never look like Jennifer Lopez in that magazine spread. You know why? Jennifer Lopez herself doesn’t even look like Jennifer Lopez in that magazine spread. That’s just photoshop and airbrushing at its finest.
You don’t want to pick a goal that’s leaps and bounds ahead of where you are (for example, losing 100 pounds or looking like a magazine model). You want to pick a goal that’s challenging, but just enough within reach to keep you motivated.
I think you and I both know…we humans are procrastinators. If you’ve ever set (and ignored) new year’s resolutions, you’ll feel this one on a deep level. A deadline that’s too far away activates that procrastinator side of us. The one that figures we can put off the discomfort a little while longer.
Now think about your time in school. That looming deadline really got you moving, didn’t it? Careful though, you want to make sure your timeline is just the right level of challenging (but not unrealistic). You don’t want to set yourself up to fail.
It pays off to be SMART with your goals (wink wink). By applying this system to your health and wellness goals (really any kind of goals), you can overcome the procrastinator in you and take action. I’ll leave you with one last suggestion: write your goals down. Use the SMART framework and fill in each component. Chances are just writing it down and making it tangible will motivate you.
By the way, this is why we help you set goals for your treatment when you come in to see us. We want you to understand exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing, and what it will do for you. Happy goal-setting!
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