When Does A Weight Goal Become Less Important Than Progress?

When Does A Weight Goal Become Less Important Than Progress? (FindingMyFitness.com)
Have you ever felt guilty for not reaching a goal you set for yourself while ignoring the great progress you’d already made?

I usually love the show Extreme Weight Loss with Chris (and now Heidi Powell). I’ve read Chris’ book which goes over the techniques he uses with his clients, and it’s generally pretty solid. He uses a sort of carb cycling, doesn’t require (at least at first) that his clients stop eating pizza, and likes the idea of lifting. You can see that on the show. Plus he’s ripped, so you know whatever he’s doing works.

I like the show because it’s not a competition. It’s purely him helping someone reach some really monstrous goals in a year. Sure, it’s unrealistic for most of us to get those results, because unlike the folks on the show, we can’t quit our jobs and basically live on a training facility.

A few weeks ago, I was really disappointed with the show. A woman made some incredible progress in each of her three phases, but she didn’t meet any of her goals. Keep in mind that her goals were like 30 lbs a month for three months, and then 10 lbs a month for three months. Some really high-order stuff going on here.

Heidi knew it was because of her food, and when she pressed, the woman confessed that she didn’t think it was really a big deal to add a half an avocado here and there to her chicken.

I almost stopped watching the show.

It’s not like she was eating pizza. She was eating one of the most healthy fats you can possibly eat. But she got yelled at because she ate more than her “allowed” calories and therefore didn’t reach her goals.

I don’t remember how much she lost, but it was still an obscene amount. I’d have been THRILLED with half of what she lost over the course of three months.

Heidi’s response was something along the lines of “Yes, you lost a lot of weight, BUT you didn’t meat your goals because you went over on your calories. It’s simple: calories in, calories out.”

She made it sound like the less you eat, the more you lose. And I was really, really disappointed. Even those of us who aren’t professionals have the ability to find out that it’s NOT as simple as calories in, calories out. I was angry at her on behalf of her client, because I could see the shame in her face and hear it in her voice when she confessed eating an avocado (not pizza).

I didn’t stop watching the show.

The following week, the show was better. The woman they were training was thin in her teens and early 20s, but she had anorexia and bulimia. Throughout her equally amazing transformation, she didn’t struggle with eating too much or eating the wrong thing. She wanted to see numbers move so badly, she struggled with not eating enough.

I’m not really important to Heidi Powell, but she mostly redeemed herself when she taught the woman that you can’t eat too few calories either. She focused more on a sweet spot. Not too much, not too little.

So on one hand, one week a woman was disappointed because she ate more avocado than “necessary” and didn’t meet her goal of even more astounding amounts of pounds than she actually lost, but the next week another woman was taught that you can’t starve yourself to fitness either.

That leaves me with the question: at what point does really good progress matter more than a goal?

I’ve thought about this a lot lately. If you’re like me and not seeing any progress, this doesn’t really apply to you. Our goal is to figure out what’s holding us back and get on top of it.

But if you’re beating yourself up because you’re only losing 1 lb a week instead of 2, or 5 lbs a month instead of 20, then I am afraid you’re missing the bigger picture that shows like Extreme Weight Loss have no choice but to gloss over.

A healthy mindset is going to get you much further than a rules-based mindset. If you’re overcoming food neuroses like many of us are, you’re much better served by looking at the great progress you’ve made rather than how far you have left to go. If you want to tighten things up, that’s fine. But be very careful not to tighten things up too much, and also be diligent to make sure the thing you’re tightening up is the right thing. Eating less calories and/or exercising more may not be the right way to go.

Don’t let not meeting some fairly arbitrary goal you set for yourself derail you from continuing down the successful path you’ve already started down. If your body fat percentage is lower this week than it was last week, even if it’s not where you wanted it to be when you set the goal, you’re already doing more good for your body than you realize.

Recognize that, be proud, and keep moving.

Have you ever done this to yourself? How did it make you feel? Did you overcome it? Help others who have the same experience by commenting about it below!

photo by Justin See / CC BY 4.0

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  1. Good post. Yeah – that episode very much upset my sister (I haven’t seen that one). Good things to think about though. I am pretty much stuck, which is why I am trying the carb cycling. At 53 and as a woman, I am frustrated I have gained 15 without even trying! Sort of! What is clear is I can’t eat like I used to, so been trying different things – and slowly but surely the scale numbers are becoming less important. I want to run, AM running, AM a runner, and am learnign how to fuel. I want to sleep better (am!), get stronger (getting there!) and I love food! It is a process and just typing this I realize ‘to be thin’ really isn’t my goal. Not anymore. I have been thin, just 5 years ago was waaayy skinny but skinny-fat (skinny-weak). Don’t want to be like that again.

    Love your blog for so many reasons – keep on!

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