Goals are overrated, specifically when it comes to weight loss. Goals can make you think in the short-term while missing the bigger picture. In this article, you will learn a better way to create smart weight loss goals that LAST
Those of you living in a cave might be unaware that most dieters are offered to set a weight loss goal using S.M.A.R.T. method. It instructs you to make your goal…
In this current environment of pseudoscience and guru-speak gushing from every corner of the media, I believe that there is a better way to set a smart weight loss goals.
That’s exactly what you will learn in this article – how to create smart weight loss goals that would LAST!
I have flu, so that’s as good of an intro as you will get!
In the end, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for my FREE 14-Day Fat Loss For Life Course.
The Reason Why S.M.A.R.T Method Fails Dieters
As fu*king awesome as S.M.A.R.T method sounds, it’s a bit outside the realm of reality for most dieters.
Here is why…
You wake up one day and decide to buckle down (like, physically buckle down!) and lose the extra 80 pounds around your waist.
(Speaking of a waist, make sure to read my article on how to make belly fat go away).
And you have been taught to set goals if you wish to achieve cool things in your life. So, you sit down and write down all those weight loss goal ideas that S.M.A.R.T. method asks for.
You have your nutrition and workout plans laid out on a piece of paper. You visualize a kick-ass body with abs popping out like you are Dwyane Johnson (drug-free, though).
You even swear off dairy, wheat, and all forms of “white death” (sugar) because you have read on Popsugar it’s “dirty” or “toxic.”
You are on the road to Thinsville!
But over time, your motivation and enthusiasm wither away… You start skipping workouts and that combo of chicken breast and rice don’t look so alluring anymore.
To make matters worse, weight loss slows down. You don’t know what’s going on. Reaching your list of weight loss goals becomes even less motivating.
You flush everything down the shitter. You give up.
If you think I’m overexerting, I’m not. That’s how most diets end. No matter how epic S.M.A.R.T method is.
The reason why you gave up was your goal!
You don’t have to be the greatest mind in the world to know that having a goal in your mind can boost motivation to stick to a weight loss plan (source).
However, setting a weight loss goal can have adverse effects:
- It makes you focus too much on details while forgetting the big picture
That is, you might be neurotically checking every food label out there as well as obsessing about the number on your scale. Along with that, you forget what really matters – creating lasting habits to exercise regularly, sleeping, tracking food intake.
- It makes you think short-term
That’s a classic example of a dieter who sets an aggressive weight loss goal and goes for it too hard to reach it. Then, rebounds and gains all the weight back.
James Clear has a brilliant article on why you need to commit long term.
- It makes you put all the other goals on the back burner
Focusing on losing that flab of your belly might make you ignore other goals like being healthy or being a good family man/woman.
- It makes you see yourself as inadequate
I know, it’s as cliché as it can get but you think that everything will be better once you ditch the unwanted weight. You think once you achieve your goal, then you’ll be happy and satisfied.
But that’s then. For now, you are not enough as a person.
The reality is that your life will be exactly the same except you will be leaner.
You might think that I’m bashing goal setting and thinking of it as useless.
Goal setting can work but often it’s incomplete and can become counterproductive.
Which brings me to the next point…
Focusing On Daily Actions And Decisions
Instead of focusing on goals you should focus on daily actions. You are better off creating a SYSTEM to achieve your goals.
Most dieters have this quite the opposite. They set a goal and then figure out the system.
System –> Goals. Not the other way around…
I’ll make the educated guess that most of you reading this have tried losing weight in the past.
So what did you do? Yep, you focused on your desired goal weight and you viewed your lifestyle as a mandatory side-effect to reach it.
What you should have done was…
You should have focused on building the right habits and lifestyle first, and view weight loss as a cool side effect.
The problem is that many dieters set aggressive weight loss goals before they have mastered the simple habits required to lose fat and keep it off for LIFE.
Check this example by Armi Legge:
Sarah is about 20 pounds overweight, but she loves to exercise.
She lifts weights four times per week, goes hiking on the weekends, and rides her bike to and from work. She prepares almost all of her meals at home.
Sarah wants to lose those 20 pounds, so she sets a goal weight of 110 pounds.
John has just finished college and trains with his buddies whenever it’s convenient.
His schedule is flexible, so he works out a lot. He eats most of his meals at restaurants, the only dish he knows how to make is scrambled eggs, and he changes his sleep schedule constantly.
John wants to prepare for his first bodybuilding show in a year.
He’s tried to get lean in the past, but he always rebounded and binged. He still binges occasionally, but since he’s bulking he doesn’t worry about it.
As a young guy, John doesn’t have to work that hard to stay at 12% body fat. But he desperately wants to get down to 5%.
He creates a set of calorie and macronutrient guidelines, weighs all of his food, adds more cardio, and stops hanging out with his friends so he can focus on his diet.
He sets weight benchmarks to make sure he’s on track for his competition.
On paper, John is much closer to his goal body than Sarah. But that’s not what matters.
How much do you think Sarah will need to change her lifestyle to lose weight? Almost none.
If she’s a little more diligent about her food intake, she’ll easily shed fat and probably keep it off forever.
John, on the other hand, will have to work harder.
He might reach his goal weight before Sarah, but what then?
He has no system for maintaining it, and he’s probably going to rebound up to a higher weight after he’s ripped. That’s assuming he can get his binge eating under control and get lean.
Sarah focused on her lifestyle first, and then set a weight loss goal.
John did the opposite.
There is a cool study where researchers looked at visualizing outcome versus process.
Students in the process‐focus condition were instructed to imagine how they would study to get a high grade on the midterm exam, whereas those in the outcome‐focus condition were instructed to imagine themselves actually getting a high grade on the midterm exam.
The finding revealed that participants in the process‐focus condition performed better on the midterm exam than those in the outcome‐focus condition (source).
That’s exactly how you should set up smart weight loss goals.
You should focus on the goal to master the right habits of eating right (more about habits here) and exercising regularly instead of fixating on the number that scale shows. Put the goal weight in the back of your mind.
Sadly, that’s where most people fail.
The following are five steps to set smart weight loss goals that are way more effective than the S.M.A.R.T method.
1. Set A Goal
I know what you think…
“Egis, I’ve just read 1289 words on why I shouldn’t set a goal and now you are telling me to do the opposite? I hope you drop dead from super ISIS-Ebola…”
It’s different. Bear with me.
Write down the number of how much you want to weigh. If you don’t know how to set a realistic weight goal, read this article.
DO NOT set a deadline! (unless you have an upcoming occasion to lose weight for). The deadline will only make you rush.
Your goal weight is only a starting point. Your REAL goal to achieve it is to master the right habits.
I even encourage my clients to put the goal weight in the back of their minds. This lets them focus on more important things which are…
Daniel Thomas has a fabulous article about why you shouldn’t set a goal when trying to lose weight.
2. Visualize The Kind Of Person Who Would Accomplish This Goal
This is where you can imagine yourself as a Fat-Burning Wizz. Imagine yourself losing unwanted fat. Having abs. Hot glutes. Slim legs…
Now think about the kind of habits this “lean you” would need to master to get all that. What would this “Kim Kardashian #2″ person do every day to get hot glutes? (aside from injections to the bum)?
What would her diet look like? Would she eat like on her way to an electric chair?
What would her training look like? Would she sloth around the treadmill or, in Arnold’s words, pump the iron (Arnold is the best! Despite loads of roids).
The bottom line is that if your imaginary person is ripped, that person will be eating right and prioritizing regular exercise and sufficient sleep.
3. Choose Key Habit That Will Help To Accomplish Your Goal
Like everywhere, 80/20 rule applies here too. 80% of your weight loss goal outcome will be determined by 20% of your habits.
That said, you don’t have to focus on adopting hundreds and one habit. Focus on one habit at a time. The one that is the most important for your goal.
Most dieters struggle with the big three which are regular exercise, diet and sleep.
If you struggle with all of them, put most of your effort into one until you master it. In the meantime, it’s fine to put some thoughts toward another habit.
4. Don’t Be Overachiever
It’s an epic dumbassery to think that you can exercise four times a week if you couldn’t drag your a$$ to the gym once.
It’s an epic dumbassery to think that you can eat 100% on point if you never tracked food intake before.
People tend to overestimate their capability to stick to new habits. The key to creating lasting behavior change is to start small.
In the beginning, it’s not that important how much you stick to your habits. Actually doing your habit CONSISTENTLY is what matters the most.
Check my recent article on how to start exercising.
If you want to start resistance training, show up in the gym once a week.
If you want to start tracking your food intake, use MyFitnessPal every second or even third day.
If you want to sleep more, go to bed five minutes earlier every day the whole week.
5. Create A Routine
DO NOT suppress your old habit! It fails 100% of the time.
That’s what most people on FAD diets do. They swear off Oreos just to find themselves with their faces buried in them two weeks later…
Your best bet to get rid of an old habit is to REPLACE it with a new one.
Let’s say you want to stop overeating “junk food” after dinner. You replace that time with reading.
You keep a book at your side while having dinner, and as soon as you’re finished, you grab it and go into your bedroom to read.
You can make dieting more enjoyable if you set smart (not S.M.A.R.T) weight loss goals.
S.M.A.R.T. method is better than nothing, but it encourages you to focus on the outcome instead of mastering your daily habits. Habits are what make the difference.
You are the sum of your daily habits and choices. Master them and view weight loss as a positive side effect.
If you struggle with lasting weight loss, make sure to sign up for my Online Coaching Program where I teach you how to lose weight, exercise properly, and keep the weight off through sustainable methods.
Thanks for reading, guys and gals. I’m gonna go die of the Flu now.