When I work with my private clients, I do a combination of teaching them new concepts, and then also coaching them so they can get themselves to take new actions.
What often comes up is total confusion about why they struggle in the first place. If they know what to do, why can’t they just do it?
That’s why I first help them clear their path. This means that we explore together exactly why their efforts to achieve their weight loss goal hasn’t worked so far.
By figuring this out, they can avoid going into the spin cycle they usually do, repeating all the same old mistakes over and over again.
So here are the five main reasons why setting a weight loss goal isn’t working for you, and what to do instead.
1. The number of pounds you want to weigh isn't motivating in itself.
When you choose a goal weight, and pick a range of pounds that would make sense for your body, your age and your lifestyle, this number is exciting for about 10 minutes. Then, it’s just a number. And that number isn’t enough to motivate you to stay on track.
What can you do instead? Think about why you want to weigh that number. What will it give you? How will you feel? We may imagine that our whole life will change when we reach a certain number. But any real change will come from you: how you think, what feelings you have, and what steps you take. The number is just a thing you think you want.
The reason you want to be a certain weight is because of how you think it will make you feel. Understanding this is the first step toward figuring out how to get to that special weight. If you want to lose weight so you can feel confident, it will help if you learn how to feel confident right now. In your current body, at your current weight. Trust me when I say this can be done.
2. You expect your journey to your weight loss goal will be a simple, straight line.
Simply said, it won’t! The path to permanent weight loss will be a winding road, with lots of detours, pauses, and bumps in that road. This is the norm.
Sometimes when we run into the common roadblocks, we take it to mean that we’re not doing something right. And we just stop.
This is a big mistake. The various roadblocks you will definitely encounter are to be expected. And the most important thing you need to do is keep going.
And, of course, stop expecting your road to be a super-highway. It will be an unpaved, dirt road. And, that’s okay.
3. You set a weight loss goal, and then stay focused on the prize.
When you first set a goal, for weight loss or anything else you really want, you do want to focus on the prize. You do want to imagine how it will feel when you get there. How you will act. How you will go through your day. And maybe how you imagine people will treat you.
But once you’ve done that, you need to move your focus from the prize to the process. You need to put one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on. If you continue to focus on the end result you want, the gap between where you are now and where you hope to go will seem enormous. And possibly, insurmountable.
Figure out what your prize is. Get really, really clear on it. And then focus on the steps you need to take, day in and day out.
4. The goal sounds great, but what’s in between you and your goal?
It’s really common to create an exciting goal, and then have all your excitement fizzle out before you have a chance to make much progress.
What’s happened here is that you haven’t broken your goal down into little, doable steps. How do you get from here to anywhere? Simply by working backwards.
Once you have your goal, work backwards and keep asking yourself: right before I got to this point, what did I do? And what did I do right before that? And before that? Keep working backwards until you get back to the beginning. And you’ll find that you have all the steps right in front of you. To be taken one at a time.
5. You expect yourself to be all in, all the time.
Uh, oh. I know you thought you were doing a good thing. Committing to something you really want. That is good, but…
The truth is that when we have a complex goal, with lots of moving parts, we need to be realistic and expect ourselves to have some degree of ambivalence.
Sometimes we will feel gung ho and ultra-committed. And then sometimes we won’t. The stuff that makes our lives interesting will occasionally get in the way, and sometimes, we just won’t be excited about the hard work ahead of us.
What to do? Don’t try to pretend those mixed feelings don’t exist. We all have some amount of ambivalence about things we want, even when we are committed. Just acknowledge those feelings when they come up and find a way through them.
For every problem in reaching your weight loss goal, there is a solution that is just perfect for you.
It will take some tweaking, and trial and error to find the right solution. Expect some bumps in the road. And I suggest that you make reaching your weight goal a challenge.
Know that you have what it takes to figure things out. And that there is always support if you desire it.
I know this for sure: you can do this.