Welcome to the joys of reaching a certain age.
I’ve just come back from a Health Check at the doctors and I’ve now definitely got to take my head out of the sand.
I really must focus on losing weight, reducing my blood pressure and reducing my cholesterol.
I’ve managed to avoid ever having my Cholesterol tested. I was proud of this. But really it was a case of ‘what I don’t know won’t hurt me’. I knew I was just in denial.
Deep down I knew it was likely to be high and by not knowing it meant I didn’t need to do anything. Stupid I know.
Now I’ve got it in writing. I have 3 flags that I have to improve if I don’t want to end up on medication.
The positive is that by improving my diet, losing some weight and getting more active I can resolve all 3 flags.
The problem is, each year I set myself a goal of losing x amount of weight and each year I find that nothing has changed.
I have tried many diet plans and diet groups. Some have worked for the short time I can stick with them but as soon as I am left to my own devices things start going awry.
Because, let’s face it –
who wants to eat diet food for the rest of their lives, or count syns or calories.
Why is it so difficult to reach your diet goals and then maintain them?
So with this in mind I thought I would delve deeper.
Why you don’t hit your weight loss goals
When you are setting weight loss goals what approach do you take?
Do you say something like “I’m going to lose a stone in weight”, “I’m going to eat healthier”, “I’m gong to get fitter”.
These are all great targets.
Definitely something to aspire to.
But what do they really mean and are you likely to behave differently if you choose a different value as a target?
If you said “I want to lose 1/2 stone” instead of a stone would your approach on how to get there be any different? Unlikely.
The same is true for athletes, a gold medal winning athlete has the same goal as the one who came second. I’m sure a silver medalist doesn’t set out to get a silver medal, they want the gold. But their training approach would not differ for either goal.
So setting a goal isn’t the answer to long term weight loss. We can all set goals, it’s getting there that is the main part.
SMART Goals don’t motivate
Setting a goal is great to make sure you are heading in the right direction, but what happens when you reach that goal? Do you celebrate and set another goal?
What happens when you are happy with reaching your goal, how do you stay there?
What happens if you don’t reach your goal, do you give up?
How long do you give yourself to reach it?
How do you know when to stop?
From my project management past, I have tried to use the SMART approach of goal setting, described here. This is defined as follows –
I am well practiced in defining goals using these principles. In theory, it should also work for losing weight, after all it works in business right!
Certainly getting more specific on your goal and making it more tangible will help. Knowing what success will look like and having a time frame to work to will give you something to aim for.
But you know what, it doesn’t cater for slip ups, or for falling off the wagon as we all like to refer to it. The SMART Goals, or any type of goal for that matter, don’t help you if you are struggling. It doesn’t motivate you to stay on track.
Defining your “Why” helps with weight loss motivation
The SMART method is enhanced by defining your ‘WHY’.
This technique means you define the reason why you are trying to achieve your weight loss goals.
The aim is that you can refer to your ‘Whys’ when you are struggling with your diet and they will push you on.
The ‘Whys’ need to make you feel strong enough to drive you on and not let you give up. Use our guide to finding your reason why to help.
The ‘Whys’ will differ for everyone. For me my ‘Why’ has now got to revolve around my health and avoiding having to take medication. I have never used this one before but it is important to me!
Yet neither setting your goals or defining your ‘Why’ help you achieve your goals.
They simply define what you want to achieve and why.
BUT the most important thing in weight loss is the HOW.
Your weight loss plan determines your success
Defining a process for HOW you are going to reach your goals is the final step to weight loss.
All the above is superfluous without a weight loss process, or plan, to follow.
What I mean by a weight loss process is the guiding principles that you follow. These help you can create new healthy habits that will ultimately get you to your goal.
Without a well defined weight loss process it is like trying to find a destination without a map.
The process defines the steps you will take to meet you goal. These can be as complex or as simple as you like, but they MUST exist.
In my Health & Fitness planner I call them ‘Your Commitments’. These are your new healthy habits you will follow that will help you achieve your goal. Tracking these habits and making sure you follow them consistently will ensure you reach your destination.
Changing even the smallest bad habit into something more healthy can make a remarkable difference.
The reason why habits work, and how successful small changes can be, are detailed in my post How to make weight loss effortless for women over 40.
Change is a must
So from now on I am making some lifestyle changes, starting with a healthy diet and becoming more active.
I must make sure my next Health Check has no red flags on them.
Is anyone else wanting to join me on this journey?