What It Really Means When You Say You're Trying To Lose Weight. (It isn't about numbers)
Don't worry, this isn't another blog about setting goals in 2016 - in many ways that subject is played out and most of the advice that is given simply doesn't work. The purpose of this blog is to start a deeper conversation - one that will hopefully stop the viscous cycle of losing weight, still feeling like we look like shit, then regaining the weight and starting all over again.
First, I should point something out since it is the New Year. It probably isn't news to you, but weight loss is the number two resolution in the country (32%) -- only second to staying fit and healthy (37%). This means there are 102,000,000 Americans setting out to lose weight in 2017. That's about 1/2 of the adult population here in 'Merica.
This is the time of year when gyms, trainers, and online marketers are lining their pockets as New Years Resolutioners flock to fitness programs around the country. By the first month, most of these people have failed and they're out hundreds -- if not thousands -- of dollars.
Where we've gone wrong.
Most trainers will yap about how important SMART goals are - meaning that when you're setting a goal it must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. And I agree that this is an important first step... But it isn't exactly what we need.
SMART goals are helpful by turning 'lose weight' into 'losing 20lbs by October' gives us, the trainer, a great idea of what your training and nutrition program wants to look like. SMART goals are important, yes, but it's also quite simply the tip of the iceberg.
Obsessing over numbers - whether it's losing x pounds or lifting x pounds can have a massive, negative effect on your health.
Our obsession with hitting certain numbers leads to things like:
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Guilt when eating "bad food"
- Eating, and training to lose weight quick... But not to keep it off.
Often times, when we're obsessed with just a number, it's easy to still feel empty even after reaching your goal.
Why? Because the numbers are simply what we associate with an emotion.
We have - with some help from giants of the weight loss industry - been taught that weight loss = happiness. You'll find yourself thinking things like:
- I'd be happier if I was skinny.
- I'd care about myself more if I wasn't so fucking fat.
- How could anyone ever find this attractive?
Fuck that. Fuck that so hard.
The order is completely backwards -- and here's why:
Do you have to get un-fat to care about yourself?
Do you have to care about yourself to get un-fat?
For long term success, you have to give a fuck about yourself - and it's that simple. Giving a fuck is what what will allow you to weather the storm when inevitable life events come up that would normally derail us.
In my experience, the majority of my clients have come for weight loss, but stayed for another reason... Exercising becomes not only a means to an end (getting in shape), but also an expression of self-worth.
The good news is that you don't have to wait for the deeper stuff to happen before starting to get in shape. In fact, like I alluded to above, for many fitness can be a path of massive self-discovery - as you experience new challenges, and overcome them, you're only becoming a more resilient, badass human.
A certain element of introspection is necessary to figure out what losing weight actually means to you...
Ask yourself 2.5 questions:
1. What is your goal?
ex: to lose 10lbs by the end of Q1 in 2017
2. Why do you want to achieve that?
ex: Because I gained 10lbs over the holidays and I want to get back to my old weight for vacation.
2.5* What does that mean to you?
ex: Because I want to feel confident in my own skin.
* Sometimes the answer to #2 is perfect, so #2.5 isn't necessary.
Now, the goal is no longer JUST to lose 10lbs, but instead to feel comfortable in your own skin. This means that if you lose 8lbs of fat and put on 5lbs of muscle (a net weight loss of 3lbs), the scale alone is going to say that you've massively underperformed. But our bodies will likely feel better, our clothes will fit better, and we'll be much closer to feeling comfortable in our own skin.
So, just remember...
When someone tells you that they're trying to lose weight, they're actually saying so much more than just that. And if you're trying to lose weight this year, make it bigger than just the numbers.
Do it for your family, your friends, and most importantly... Yourself.