“I want to lose 35 pounds in 4 months.” “I will exercise 30 minutes 5 times per week.” “I will pack my lunch every day.” “I will avoid desserts completely.” Have you ever tried to implement a goal like this? These goals are every health professional’s dream to hear! And successfully done, can greatly improve your health.
However, if these larger goals are not broken down in to simpler, more readily achievable actions, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
Just like learning to ride a bike happens in small steps, so does learning how to make small changes toward a healthy lifestyle. When a child wants to learn how to ride a bike, they cannot just begin pedaling and expect everything else to fall right into place. They have to keep on, even when they fall off, even when it seems too hard. And so, they make small goals, with the help of their parents. “When you feel it lean toward one side, shift your weight to the other.” This small goal is part of the larger skill of learning to ride the bike. By successfully implementing the smaller goals one by one, they learn how to ride! A huge accomplishment for a child! And they can continue to do it for the rest of their life.
It works the same way with weight loss. A goal does need to be measurable so we can track it to know we have met it. And smaller goals make up the larger goal of achieving a healthy weight. These smaller goals are often the most important ones, because they deal with what is happening in real-time in your life. For example, “What will you say to Aunt Bertha when she offers you dessert?” “If you forget your lunch one day, where will you choose to eat?” and a very important one, “If you happen to lose no weight one week, are you going to restructure and continue with your commitment to health?”
Using The Right Language To Set Your Goal
So what’s in a word when it comes to setting a weight loss goal? Everything. And one word in particular can hold you back more than most. We can say to ourselves, even sometimes declaring aloud that our goal is to go to the gym four times this week. This seems very reasonable. We identify something we need to work on and set a goal of making those changes. Why then, is it often so challenging to meet them?
The problem with goals is in the language we use. We use the word goal often. We say, “My goal is to make it to the gym four times this week” and often unconsciously to us this means, “I will try to make it to the gym four times this week.”
Yes, you should try to achieve your goals, but try leaves wiggle room and a small opening for an excuse if something comes up. And because you are in a “trying” mindset you are less likely to make it happen. The other problem with try, is that once you’ve tried and failed, then you are less likely to try again. Attempting something is one thing. Doing it is another. When you are in a doing mindset, you are going to make it happen no matter what comes up. You’ve made an agreement with yourself that you are going to do it.
My favorite line from the Star Wars movies is when Yoda tells Luke, “Do or do not, there is no try”. Try implies that it is okay if we don’t do what we said we were going to do, we tried and that is good enough. We’ve got to take our health a bit more seriously.
How to Set a Goal
Goals, big and small, need to be realistic! If you set a large goal that is difficult to meet when you are considering the physical ability you have, your age, or the amount of time you need to achieve this goal, it’s easy to get lost in the big picture. Break down a bigger long-term goal, such as losing 50 pounds, into smaller short term goals. For example, a smaller goal would be to lose 5 pounds and then set a new goal to lose another 5 pounds.
Transforming your Health
The problem with stubborn metabolic problems that result in weight gain, is that it really requires some serious effort to correct and reverse it. I know this first-hand. I have worked with thousands of patients who were able to implement the advice I gave them on diet, lifestyle, protein, carbohydrate and fat and activity. These individuals were able to change their relationship with calories, food, and exercise, so that when I presented them with a treatment plan based upon their individual chemistry and metabolic issues, they already knew that the way they had always done it wasn’t working.
My successful patients are singular because they do what is necessary, they do not try. They take action, and nothing they do is half-hearted when it comes to their health. They take it seriously. They choose to exercise a little more when they eat extra sweets. This allows them high performance with weight loss.
The trying game changes when we are able to say, “I promise myself that I will go to the gym twice this week.” You will be at the gym twice this week. Or if you’d rather, “I am making a commitment to myself to visit the gym in the morning on Tuesday and Thursday this week.” The more specific your goal is, the better you will be able to foresee issues that may arise and avert them.
That being said, we live in the real world. Certainly the unforeseen happens in life, and sometimes we have to break promises we make to ourselves and others. Breaking a promise should not shame us. With weight loss, we have to acknowledge what works and what doesn’t, and accept them both. If we have a plan that works, we will have results if we commit to doing it. Promises we make to ourselves are just as important as the promises we make to others. When that becomes resolute and unwavering for us, real lasting results are possible.