Thursday, December 30, 2010

Your Weight Loss Goals are Incredibly Stupid. (Part 1)

Every New Year, thousands of people make the resolution to lose weight. They want to lose 10, 20, 30 pounds, etc. They sign onto another 12 month gym contract and then they are off to the races. "This year is going to be different!"

After a month or two, well... the drive and motivation has died down. Either the results were not good enough or had begun to slow down. Simply put, once the weight stop coming off, people quit. Why put forth effort if there are no results?

This is a big problem we have in the fitness industry... this focus on numbers... We treat the scale like it is the only thing that matters. If the scale tells us that we haven't lost weight... then we have failed... end of story.

This is why weight loss goals are incredibly stupid. Progress is measured in many ways. The scale should be the least of your concerns. I'm going to tell you something VERY unconventional right now... something very few people will ever even think about saying... If you truly want to be successful in your weight loss program, do not think about weight loss at all! Ignore the scale... at least for now...

WTF? "If I want to lose weight, I should ignore the scale entirely?!?!?"

Don't stop reading. If this does not make perfect sense to you... and I understand it probably doesn't, just follow this argument.

Why you shouldn't set a numerical weight loss goal:

1. You have no idea how fast you can actually lose weight
2. A scale will not tell you how much FAT you lost or if you put on any muscle
3. If you do not achieve your goal, you are a failure
4. People rarely lose weight consistently every week or month... "bad" months are discouraging
5. A scale can only tell you one thing... your weight. It doesn't show you everything that you have actually accomplished.

The only way to enjoy long term success in life is to build what I call "Championship Habits." It does you no good to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 weeks if you are going to put those 10 pounds back on 2 weeks later. Sure, everybody loves a quick fix... but they are only truly powerful if they are sustainable... and that's why building successful habits is far more important than looking at one static, discouraging number.

So, the goal you should set in place of a numerical (or outcome-based) goal is a habitual goal. What does this mean? Rather than saying, "I'm going to lose 25 pounds in 3 months," which is something very difficult to predict... make your goal, "I am going to train one hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next 2 months." This goal is superior because it is easily measurable. If you go to the gym on Monday and train for an hour, you have achieved your goal for that day. It is rewarding to actually achieve goals... and habit based goals are the simplest to both make and keep because you just need to do them. Another habitual goal would be one for your diet... "I am going to take 2 fish oil capsules with every meal."

People tend to focus on their failures and ignore their successes. Don't do that. Even if you don't lose as much weight as you wanted to in a certain amount of time... if is okay provided you took the steps to make the right changes in your daily habits... because if you continue with those habits... you will be successful in the long run... far more successful than the guy or girl who lost 15 pounds in six weeks by joining a fat loss bootcamp class and doing some ridiculous and unsustainable diet cleanse.

Think about what habits a lean and healthy person has. Then make your goals to match those habits. Fair enough?

What habits do successful people demonstrate? Share your thoughts. Leave a comment.

In Part 2 of this goal setting series, I will discuss performance-based goals and how you can use them as benchmarks to achieve long term success.


  1. Tim, you already gave us two that I like. Show up for every training session. Take fish oil with every meal.

    What about keeping a training log?

  2. When you have fine tuned all other variables and you know that you're muscle-sparing in your diet and training regimen, weight loss will be a positive indicator of fat loss as long as you are weighing yourself consistently at the same time of day each week.

  3. Excellent point, Sausage. This makes sense for experienced lifters (and eaters). Unfortunately, most people will never get to that point. However, if people start building these championship habits... then eventually everything will come easy... and then the scale becomes a valuable tool.

  4. Write your goals down and display them in a high-visibility area. Tell your friends in order to receive invaluable encouragement and support. Who knows: They might have the same or similar goals themselves, making both your lives easier.

    In addition, "championship habits" is an amazing term. I feel like I'll soon be winning top prize just thinking about them!

  5. I actually got "championship habits" from watching the NBA. Some announcers were talking about how you can tell if a team is going to be successful in the post season. The best teams built championship habits during the season. Even teams that win in the regular season aren't necessarily cut out for playoff play because they play too sloppy... or they win ugly... so to speak.


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