When we start a weight loss program, be it with diet or exercise or both, we often focus on the end goal. But do you overlook the victories you have along the way? Do you acknowledge your accomplishments or just think, “ugh I missed my deadline” or “5 more pounds to go.”?
I am the first to say I am guilty of this. Super guilty. Even when I know that this kind of behavior is defeating and counterproductive, I still do it. Why is that? I’ve written about goals before and make no mistake, goals are important. It’s important to set them and meet them. However, so much emphasis is placed on the end result, checking the goal off the list and moving on that anything short of success, even if there is great progress along the way, it can feel like failure.
But what if not reaching your goal in the steps you’ve laid out isn’t a failure? What if you could set a goal and be thrilled if you achieve it fully, but also be equally as happy if you don’t? Let’s say you are working on losing 15 pounds and are exercising and eating healthy, but cannot seem to lose the last 5 (which is so common). If you consider yourself a failure for not being able to lose that last bit, all of your energy is actually going toward holding on to those pesky 5 pounds because you are focusing on them still hanging around. You’re holding on to them and they’re weighing you down. How awful! Instead, what if you patted yourself on the back and rewarded yourself for losing 10 lbs and thought, well maybe I need those 5 for something, or I’ll lose them when my body needs to.
This is healthy for many reasons.
A) Praise feels much better than criticism
B) Thinking this way shuts down the need to hold on to what you didn’t do and focus on what you did
C) Those last 5 pounds will likely come off without you even trying or noticing.
We spend so much time punishing ourselves for what we haven’t done because if we don’t, well then it means we’re lazy or not committed enough. It also makes goal setting an arduous undertaking because, let’s face it, we are also trained (wrongly) to believe that goals are hard to achieve so you are already starting in a negative space. If instead we focus on what we end up with in the moment and know that if you want to lose pounds you will, but maybe it’s not in the way that you think, then wouldn’t you be much happier? Wouldn’t you feel a sense of accomplishment that might propel you further? Think about it. — Jessica Kuiken
Jessica Kuiken is a Los Angeles based Pilates instructor.