I talk about goals a lot with my health coaching clients. Surprisingly, though, I don’t focus on the number on the scale during our weekly check-ins, even when a big picture goal of theirs is to lose weight. Why? Because I believe that weight loss should not be placed on a pedestal as your one and only goal. I do believe that weight loss is a side effect of consistent healthy habits.I do believe that weight loss is a side effect of consistent healthy habits. Click To Tweet
The Problem With Numbers
Have you ever stepped on the scale and experienced an immediate mood change? We place a lot of stock in the scale, and will quickly discredit any good feelings about our bodies and healthy practices when we see even a minuscule rise in weight. When you make a certain number your goal, that becomes the baseline measure of success, when in reality, our weight is only one indicator of our health. If you toss and turn all night, averaging 5 hours of sleep, are so stressed from a demanding job, and live off fast food, but manage to lose some weight, this doesn’t indicate an improvement of you health.
This isn’t to say you should ignore your weight completely. It’s OK to weigh yourself, and even have a range in mind where you feel your best, but take this number with a grain of salt. For those that do like to keep tabs on their weight, consider keeping a weekly average to avoid getting caught up in the small daily fluctuations, and use this to gauge larger shifts. It’s nice to see an increase when you’re building muscle, or a decrease when you finally ditch your daily soda habit, but remember this; your weight does not define you. You know this, but I’ll say it again; Your. Weight. Does. Not Define. You.
Finding Your Why
Weight loss is the most common goal for clients seeking health coaching and personal training. However, it’s usually not their actual goal. When a client says their biggest goal is to lose XX pounds, or reach XX weight, my next question is, “why?” We uncover a variety of deeper reasons, from “So I can keep up with my kids”, to, “Because I’ll feel comfortable in my clothes”, all of which are deeply intrinsic goals, all of which have no set number to be realized.
It’s not the 25 pound weight loss that will change your life. It’s the addition of exercise that you enjoy, the reduced daily sugar intake, the increased restorative sleep, or the mindful eating practices you adopt that will improve your everyday.
What to Focus on Instead
So, this begs the question, what do you focus on if not weight loss. Let’s say your big picture goal – the Why behind building healthier habits – is completing (and enjoying!) a tough hike with your friends. Weighing 125 instead of 155 doesn’t instantly insure it’ll be a breeze. If you white knuckle your way through an uninspired and skimpy diet, and cut back on sleep to get up early for cardio, all for the sake of hitting a specific number on the scale, you may lose some weight, but your body isn’t strong and prepared for the adventure ahead.
On the other hand, if you focus on fueling your body more healthfully by cutting back on processed foods in favor of whole foods, incorporate strength training as part of a more well rounded exercise routine, and get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night so your muscles can recover, you’ll be properly prepared an will most likely shed some extra weight in the process.
Focusing on what small changes you can make towards better health, as opposed to solely how you can lose weight, is a more holistic, practical, and mentally healthier way to reach your goals.
Like I said earlier, weight loss (assuming you have extra weight to lose) is an indicator that your overall health is improving. It is a side effect of consistently making healthier choices. By channeling your energy into making one small healthy change at a time; going to bed on time, fitting in a morning workout, choosing baked over fried, cooking instead of going out, etc., for the sake of improving your health, the weight loss will come.
Many people get frustrated when they try to lose weight, because it’s the last thing to happen. As soon as you start exercising, eating healthier, or getting more sleep, positive changes are happening within. You’ll notice more energy and confidence in yourself before you see it translated on the scale, yet that’s when people stop; when they don’t see the numbers change after a week or two of healthier habits.
I have a client who’s goal is to get back into an enjoyable exercise routine like she used to have years ago, before a move abroad and workload got in the way. She was frustrated one week and said, “I just feel sometimes that I’m making all these changes and I haven’t seen much weight loss so I think, ‘what’s the point?'”. “I understand”, I told her. Then asked her if she could think of any positives over the past few weeks we had been working together. “Yeah, I have more energy in the morning, I feel better about myself, and I know this is better for me.” Just like that, she rattled off 3 reasons it was worth it. None of them having to do directly with weight loss.
Are you tired of letting the scale determine your success? Working with a professional health coach will help you set meaningful and realistic goals, and help you get there by holding you accountable. I would love to talk with you about where you’re struggling and come up with an action plan to finally get the results you want! Click here to see how you can work with me, and here to start the conversation.