It is easy to be unrealistic when setting weight loss goals, often we may not be taking all factors into consideration when setting goals, and sometimes there are things that we simply cannot control. We are going to have a look at goals and expectations, and you might find you need to readjust your own expectations. People on a weight loss journey have found that by doing this, they have been freed up to achieve their goals. I invite you to use this tutorial to reflect on your own thoughts, and discover what you really want out of your weight loss journey.
Research on Weight Loss Goals
Research shows that those who are successful at losing weight and maintaining it do not have a goal weight.
Having a goal or ideal weight can be detrimental to your efforts, since if you do not manage to succeed in this goal you will be less likely to see the weight loss course or plan through, less likely to focus on what you have lost, and other health benefits. For example people commonly think, ‘unless I get to the weight I was at 20, I can’t be happy.’ This goal then, is the measure of success. These types of goals can back fire as they cause frustration, dissatisfaction and increased distress over body image.
It is much more helpful and encouraging to focus on the SUCCESSES and the SKILLS you are building for long term success, than on what you haven’t done and how far you still need to go.
The effect your weight is having on you is far more important than the number on the scales.
By changing your attitude, you can free up your thinking so that you can succeed at weight loss, and make this journey can be different from your previous weight loss attempts!
You may be tempted to decide on a particular BMI as your goal. People, charts, even professionals may tell you that this is what you should weigh based on your height. However we discourage relying on the BMI as an exact indicator of where you should be; this calculation ignores dieting history, genetics, metabolism, eating, activity and muscle mass, which all impact on your weight. All factors affecting your weight are not in your full control…for example genetics or metabolism, which will be unique to each individual.
Research shows much evidence for a set point theory – the idea that your body is happier around a particular weight, and this weight will fluctuate by up to 15lb. This is called a set point range. If you attempt to go below your body’s unique set point range, hunger will increase and metabolism will slow down naturally, as your body’s internal system attempts to correct your weight. So, if you choose a target weight below your set point range, you are going to be unlikely to maintain it, and if you do, it will require a great deal of effort and stress on the body. This is why when people lose ‘too much’ weight, they cannot keep it off – their body is not happy at this particular weight. Letting go of BMI & weight numbers can move you from unhealthy weight obsessions to focusing on your health & well being.
History of dieting
Those who have been on many diets in the past will have negatively affected their metabolic rate, and it is very likely that their set point range will have raised to a higher level following each diet. Research shows that weight cycling/ yo-yo dieting is WORSE for your health than maintaining a steady weight, even if you are slightly overweight. In this scenario it is much better to focus on balancing the body nutritionally FIRST and creating long term lifestyle changes and skills for success rather than trying to cut calories immediately and lose weight. Commitment and patience is needed! It’s really important to realise that this isn’t just another diet, but it is a long term comprehensive program to support your body back into fat burning mode and increase your resources for lasting success. Are you ready for a lifestyle change, never to be the same again?
Turning away from the scales
Weight is influenced by water balance, which can fluctuate wildly – some people have reported a 14lb change due to water weight alone. Also, if you have been on a restricted diet and then eat a normal meal, that one meal, due to glycogen and water being restored into the body, will cause the scales to reflect a higher weight. Monthly cycles, time of day, salt intake, and muscle mass also affect the number on the scales. All of the above, as well as the psychological impact of using the scales as a measure of success on any given day, are reasons why you are encouraged to move away from the scales as a marker of success. Changes in body composition are far more accurate in recording actual fat loss, however they are not widely used as a measure of success.
We will be working to to create an overall calorie deficit by reducing calorie intake, which will produce weight loss. We will achieve a calorie deficit by controlling cravings, managing emotions, stabilising blood sugar, swapping to healthy alternatives, increasing willpower, and promoting a healthy lifestyle! When you first start to reduce your calorie intake, the weight on the scales can drop significantly. It would be easy to expect to sustain this rate of weight loss – however, this first weight loss is actually water and glycogen, not body fat. When glycogen stores are depleted, the body will start to burn fat. Even if weight loss on the scale slow down, it is important to remember your body can still be losing fat at a steady rate. Measurements from the waist, hip and thighs can be one of the markers of success you choose to use instead of the numbers on the scales.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”― Louis Sachar
Have your weight loss goals every backfired on you? Why do you think this happened?
Have you ever set an unrealistic weight loss goal? What was the outcome?
Take a moment now to consider how you feel about letting go of the idea of reaching a goal, or ideal weight:
Principles of Change
Research shows that the principles of SUCCESSFUL weight loss are:
- stimulus control,
- attitude change,
- planning and problem solving.
Are you ready to be successful in the long term at your weight loss and maintenance? These principles, not weight loss, should be rewarded during the process of your journey – these are the keys to long term success!! Don’t forget anyone can drop a few pounds. Not everyone can drop it in a healthy way and keep it off!!!
Planning your goals:
Some examples of health focused goals to reach within 6 months are:
- Aim to lower blood pressure/cholesterol/blood sugar by a couple of points
- Aim to lose 2 inches from waist
- Aim to be able to walk a mile 4 times a week
- Aim to have only natural, unprocessed, whole foods available at home
- Aim to eliminate cravings
- Aim to go from pre-diabetic to normal
- Aim to have increased energy
When deciding your goals, ask yourself if they are:
- Simple (can you easily focus on them?)
- Measurable (how will you know if you are progressing towards it?)
- Attainable (Is this possible for you, taking into account personal resources biological make up?)
- Realistic (Are you aiming for a weight which you have never been, or which you were in your early 20s?)
- Timely (Are you trying to fit into a particular size by a particular date? Is there a more helpful alternative to this way of thinking?)
Write your own personal goals here:
These goals are not static! They can change as you make progress, gian confidence and aim for higher goals. Revisit these goals often and re-evaluate!
See ‘progress tracker’ handout following this, which will enable you to monitor your progress towards these goals!