While working with people, I try to have them focus not on short-term goals. Notice, I didn’t say to neglect having a long-term goal.
Take for example a 45-year-old man who is looking to lose 100 pounds. Men this age have to worry about a slowing metabolism, especially if he’s not exercising. You can’t maintain the same diet you once did as a 20-year-old and expect to keep a healthy weight. In such a scenario, weight gain can happen quickly. Let’s call this man Jim.
Jim is motivated. His doctor has advised him to lose the weight, and his marriage just recently ended, so he’s looking to get himself back into the market. Often times, a client like Jim expects he can lose the weight in one month.
Unfortunately, fitness trainers hear this all the time. Promise. And it stems from these extreme home workouts often advertised on television. You’ll hear things like, “follow our program and we guarantee you’ll lose the weight in two months.” First off, losing 100 pounds in two months is not healthy, nor is it a sustainable long term. Sorry, but the “The Biggest Loser” and other reality shows have done a disservice to the mentality of the severely obese.
On “The Biggest Loser,” they workout an average of eight to ten hours a day, and the contestants’ caloric intake is extremely low; too low, in my opinion. Contestants also have the benefit of being insulated from the real world, so they don’t deal with real life scheduled and temptations. And, television time does not translate into real time. A week at the ranch is sometimes two weeks or more.
The extreme measures by which contestants exercise in these shows is also dangerous. For normal exercise routines, we recommend you consult your doctor first. On these reality television shows, a medical staff monitors contestants regularly.
So, getting back to Jim.
After explaining to him the realities of proper weight loss, we discussed targeting his goal to lose one to two pounds per week. This means it will take Jim a year, without set backs, to reach his target weight.
Weight loss is gradual, not quick. Most of the time people understand this when you explain they didn’t gain all the weight in just a month. But, when it reality doesn’t click back in it’s because we are bombarded with instantaneous solutions on a daily basis — promises from the magic pill, the weight-loss shake, or the newest machine. (Seriously. Anyone who bought the shake weight to lose weight, I have to ask, what the hell were you thinking?) It’s all a sham. Several studies show that people who take this kind of gradual weight loss approach are more successful in maintaining a healthier weight. It’s a grind, but it also establishes a habit, and a healthier lifestyle. It’s tough to stay dedicated to anything for a month let alone a year, especially when it comes to fitness.
So I tell the Jim’s of the world, your long-term goal is to lose 100 pounds. Now, put it in the back of your mind. Don’t forget it, but just bury it. Instead, focus on a series of little goals. Instead, let’s just shoot for 10 pounds. When you get that 10, set another goal.
This kind of approach doesn’t apply to weight loss or fitness alone. You can use this at work, school or life in general. No matter what your big or long-term goal is, break it down to a series of smaller goals. Give yourself little rewards along the way, so that it fuels your motivation to keep reaching towards the big reward.
Dan Romand is a regular contributor to SpotlightLiving, where you can find articles based on his research and experience as a certified personal trainer.
You can find more of Romand’s articles on fitness by searching our database of articles on our website, Spotlightnews.com. In addition to being our fitness columnist, Romand is also co-owner and operator of Full Circle Fitness NY in Colonie.