How many of you have a shiny new weight loss goal ahead of you now that the new year is here? Please don’t do this to yourself again. Weight loss goals are flawed. First of all, the number on the scale is a measure, not a goal. A goal is something you accomplish due to behavioral changes. Weight loss is an outcome. If you use it as a goal, you are likely to be disappointed.
- Weight can be arbitrary. There are so many things that impact our weight, over which we have no control like water retention or the density or our lunch.
- Weight fluctuates. Due to the arbitrary nature of our weight, it can fluctuate up to 5 pounds every day. That can feel very disappointing.
- We put too much emotion in the number. We assign our worth to the number we see. If it is down, we are happy and deem ourselves good people. If it is up, we are worthless, lazy, failures. Yep. That sounds like a good plan!
- The number is arbitrary. How did you determine this ideal weight? Is it even realistic or is it what you think you should weigh? Is that a weight your body would feel comfortable with?
- You’ve given yourself a deadline. On top of the weight loss goal having these flaws, you have probably given yourself a deadline in which to meet it. Once a little time passes, the panic that you won’t make it starts bubbling. This is guaranteed to make you a) not lose weight and b) likely go in the opposite direction.
Great, so now you have no hope of losing weight, right? No. You can change your body, but first you need to change your strategy. Stop shaming your body for being something it isn’t. Loving your body will get you further than hating it has. If you don’t like the way your body looks, detach emotionally and make a realistic plan. Also, focus on the behavior change that will get you the weight outcome you desire. Instead of focusing on that number, focus on things you can actually control. Make goals for eating a minimum number of servings of fruits and vegetables. Make goals for the number of days you engage in physical activity. Focus on only eating when you are physically hungry. Last, but certainly not least, use how your clothes fit and feel as the measure for the outcome. This is much more stable than the number on the scale.