Home Friday 5 5 Reasons to Keep Your Fitness Goals to Yourself

5 Reasons to Keep Your Fitness Goals to Yourself

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m an advocate of keeping your fitness goals to yourself.

I remember a few years ago, there was a TED talk about sharing your goals, and how it can negatively affect your ability to advance on your goals. Something about telling people your goals, and the praise you receive from the actual conversation, makes your brain feel as if its already accomplished the goal, thereby diminishing your desire to actually make progress.

 

I can't be the only person who remembers when Martin went on the diet, and Gina did this?

I can’t be the only person who remembers when Martin went on the diet, and Gina did this?

And, as weird as it sounds, I can understand how that could happen – you receive so much praise about your goal to finally lose those stubborn pounds for good, and people pat you on the back, cheer you on, and you get excited! You become happy. It’s encouraging for some, but for others, that initial happiness will never compare to the praise you get for losing 2lbs every week. In fact – people are so used to hearing about people losing 7lbs in 7 days, that people might even wind up snarking on your progress – “Shouldn’t you be losing more than that? Oh, I don’t know…I keep seeing magazine covers with diets that help you lose 7lbs in 7 days… maybe you need to check that out?”

As always, I have a few points worth considering when it comes to sharing your fitness goals with any ol’ body:

1) Sabotage isn’t just for movies – it’s a real life phenomenon. Those jerks at the office who, once made aware of your fitness goals, now want to ensure that you never miss out on “donut day” or now, all of a sudden, want to make sure you get a slice of whomever’s birthday cake? Those people… should all take a long walk off a short pier.

Now, mind you, every person who presents with saboteur-esque behavior isn’t doing it with malice in their hearts – oftentimes, they just want to see what it looks like for someone to turn down a tasty pastry, because they don’t know how and would like to see it in person. Lots of people feel like they can’t help but succumb to the flesh – err, frosting? – and want to watch it live and in real time. They rarely – if ever – think about how this action will affect you – what it’ll mean for you if you say “yes,” what it’ll mean for you if you say “no.”

If you find yourself being asked why you’re turning down the office crumb cake, all you’ve got to do is frown your face up and say “Nah, I’m not in the mood.” And, when someone pokes at you and says, “C’mon, everybody’s doing it! Peer pressure! Who turns down crumb cake?!” You just frown your face up again and say, “I don’t know.. I just don’t feel up to it right now. I don’t feel too hot.” (Because, of course, the only acceptable reason to turn down cake is because something is wrong with you.)

2) You signed up to lose weight – you didn’t sign up to be challenged by know-it-alls. The challenges are the most irritating. “Should you be eating that?” “I thought you weren’t allowed to eat that?” “You’re eating that?”

Yes, ask me these questions as I slide a fork full of it into my mouth.

Now, I can understand that someone who actually shouldn’t be eating whatever they’re eating might appreciate the check… but I’m curious – has this question ever resulted in someone saying, “You know what? You’re right,” while tossing the tray out? Or does this usually just end with a “Nope, oh well. YOLO,” as they take another bite?

The only person who really knows whether or not you should include something in particular in your diet… is you, and it is your responsibility to hold yourself accountable for that. You’re an adult – if you choose to stick to or side step your plan, I can only hope you chose to do so mindfully and not absent-mindedly, but whatever you do, it ain’t my business or anyone else’s, for that matter. Besides, the wrong person, in the right situation, can easily turn into a conversation that winds up shaming you for your ability or inability to stick to your plan…

3) …which leads me to my next point – shamers and mockers. I give people who sabotage – accidentally or on purpose – far more benefit of the doubt than I give shamers and mockers. These people are just obnoxious.

“Ohh, are you on a diet?”

“Oh, you diet probably doesn’t allow that, does it?”

To quote my girl Luvvie,

FantasiaFightsAir

Sharing your fitness goals always opens you up to these people who, while cutting a slice of pie, turn towards you and say “Oh, you probably can’t eat this since you’re on a diet, huh?”

It’s not even always pie or cupcakes, either – remember, when I told my Mom I was giving up pork and beef… all of a sudden every single night was ribs, steak, bacon, pork chops, burgers. If it previously oinked or mooed, it was dinner. Complete with an, “Oh, well it looks like you’ll be eating lettuce for dinner, huh, boo?”

That’s not the only way “sharing” and “mocking” can come into play, either – think about all the jerks who, after a few weeks say, “I thought you were on a diet? How much have you lost again?” as if to imply “whatever you’re doing isn’t working, since I can’t tell.” What’s more, if your current loss hasn’t met their “7lbs in 7 days!!!1ONE” standard, sure enough… the shame tries to seep in, once again.

4) Talking about your fitness goals can inadvertently open you up to being responsible for someone else! Suppose you’re ready and raring to go. You’ve got a plan – you know what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, and how you’re going to get it done. You’re confident that no outside force can affect you, so you decide to be Sharey McSharington and share your goals with everyone, anyway.

Now, people who aren’t anywhere near as committed as you are want to be your “workout buddy.” They want to be your “lunch buddy.” They want to poke, prod, ask questions and cling to you in the hopes that they, too, can do what you’re doing.

This isn’t a terrible thing, but if you didn’t bargain for this? It’s annoying.

People love workout buddies… when they actually do the work. If you’ve got hangers-on attaching themselves to you and trying to “attach” themselves to you and what you’re doing, hoping that you’ll “motivate” them into their own fitness… it’s irritating. If a person hasn’t had their “come to fitness moment,” then they aren’t ready, and attaching themselves to you won’t “get” them ready. And, even more, just because you’re knowledgeable doesn’t mean that the energy spent on someone else won’t weigh you down. It’s hard enough being mindful for one person – for two? I am unable.

5) The power of silent change is immeasurable. When people see you, without announcement, taking an “active lunch” at the gym, occasionally partaking of the cupcakes and cookies at work mindfully, drinking loads of water, it attracts other like-minded people. Soon, you’ve got a crew of people who all dip off to the gym during lunch time, and spend lunch in the weight room while grabbing a wrap out the door instead of going to Friday’s. Eventually, there are enough of you skipping the lunch time sweets to the point where there’s now a “basket of apples” next to the “basket of candy.” You’re an ambassador of healthy living, not the “girl on a diet.” It’s not a “thing” anymore – it’s just how you live, no big deal, and it produces results. Sometimes, that looks far more possible than “the diet” which, by now, we’re all so accustomed to failing that it’s literally ingrained in us.

It’s called “being the change you wish to see in the world,” and it works. Way better than offering yourself up for slaughter by the jerks with the oreos.

Now, none of this means that I don’t understand why some people are major supporters of sharing with everyone – I do! I understand the desire to have other people hold you accountable and help remind you of your goals… but that’s always left me wondering – why do you need to be held accountable by someone else? Why aren’t you the only person you need to hold you accountable? And there’s always the question of what are people holding you accountable for? Is this the person who sees you putting olive oil on your salad and snarking, “Are you sure you should be eating that?” Or is this the person who thinks that, because you’re not going vegan/paleo/gluten free/whatever they are or giving up bread/pork/seafood/whatever they gave up, you need to be reminded how you’re doing it wrong?

If anything, I see the value in having a select group of fitness-minded people who already share your beliefs on fitness to help you along. That’s different from being vocal about your goals with everyone. Being with like-minded people is always a plus… but the rest? Gotta let that go!

What do you think? What did I leave out? Do you agree?

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23 comments

Allie October 11, 2013 - 1:01 PM

Hi Erika, I started following your blog because I recently decided to become a vegetarian, and I found several of your posts to be helpful. I’m looking to get healthier, not lose weight. And I just wanted to add that you just can’t win with office snacks, ever. A few years ago I was planning my wedding, and someone brought in cake. I accepted a piece, and all of a sudden everyone was like, “Don’t you have a dress to fit into????” I wasn’t even dieting in the first place, and my dress was already purchased in the correct size so I didn’t have to “try” to fit into it. I just can’t believe the gall of some people to try to shame others, when it’s not like they were forgoing the cake!

Erika Nicole Kendall October 11, 2013 - 3:52 PM

Ugh!!!!!

Ronnita November 29, 2013 - 6:20 PM

Thank you Erika, your this was very helpful and really help me to know what I was thinking was right.

Courtney S. October 11, 2013 - 1:59 PM

I agree with you 100% on this. I’m 300+ lbs and have recently committed to becoming active and taking healthy living one day at a time. I didn’t TELL anyone other than my VERY SUPPORTIVE husband about my actual goals, but what I did do was “just do it.” I began walking 3x a week as well as changing my eating habits. If my mom is around when I decide to have a slice of cake or a cookie (in moderation, cause I’ve been working hard) her first comment is ALWAYS “aren’t u supposed to be on a diet? or is that allowed on your diet?”

I’ve learned to shrug her off and keep it movin’. I’ve got to because I’m doing this for ME. Blessings.

BlushandBarbells October 11, 2013 - 3:30 PM

I could not agree more. I’ve made the mistake of saying aloud that I wanted to drop a pants size or whatever, and suddenly every.single.forkful is analyzed and debated. Look, I know I eat like a teenage boy, and that’s why my workouts make me strong but not thin, but it’s really no one’s business but my own <—had to learn that the hard and embarrassing way.

mmd575 October 11, 2013 - 5:28 PM

I feel like in my case I get chastised if I am either eating too much or too little. It’s annoying when you deal with people who think they know what you should/shouldn’t be eating. I guess my friend is right “Keep your dreams/goals to yourself”

Tina October 11, 2013 - 11:48 PM

I really agree with what you said about having a select group of fitness-minded people to help you along. I have begun quite a few “lifestyle changes” in my 31 years on this planet, but I believe this last one actually got me to my goal weight (I know, we’re not supposed to be beholden to the scale–but this was a “see if I can” thing) because of my secret Facebook group.

When I finally got to my goal, of course I shared it with the world, but only that handful of people knew about how I struggled and had pitfalls and plateaus along the way, and they spurred me on. Now, if everyone had known from the beginning what I was doing, some of the well-intentioned saboteurs in my life probably would have convinced me to just stop when it was getting too hard.

Now that I got to that number on the scale, my new goal is to become a beast in the weight room. That is a goal I haven’t shared with anyone (well, except here), because I can just hear the “Oh, so you trying to be a bodybuilder now?” comments now. (Not from my Facebook group, of course. I think they’d be supportive; I’m just not ready to share it with them yet.) Sometimes when people say the first thing that comes to their minds, it can really take the wind out of your sails. So I’m saving myself the frustration and not giving them anything to comment on.

Donielle October 12, 2013 - 12:40 AM

I’m tired of people telling me I’m going to disappear because of my goal! I am eating healthy and being active. I’ve learn the hard way to keep some things to myself.

christine October 15, 2013 - 12:49 PM

I am the only one in my office who takes the stairs..hell I don’t think half of them know where they are..seriously. I pretty much keep to myself. Another thing I’ve noticed is how some women react when you start losing weight. Ooo girl I need to lose this stomach..so I tell them how I’ve been doing it, what I’ve been eating…you would think I was speaking in a foreign language lol. I’m saving my breath for the treadmill

Kami October 12, 2013 - 1:39 PM

The only person who really knows whether or not you should include something in particular in your diet… is you, and it is your responsibility to hold yourself accountable for that. You’re an adult – if you choose to stick to or side step your plan, I can only hope you chose to do so mindfully and not absent-mindedly, but whatever you do, it ain’t my business or anyone else’s, for that matter. Besides, the wrong person, in the right situation, can easily turn into a conversation that winds up shaming you for your ability or inability to stick to your plan…
3) …which leads me to my next point – shamers and mockers. I give people who sabotage – accidentally or on purpose – far more benefit of the doubt than I give shamers and mockers. These people are just obnoxious.
“Ohh, are you on a diet?”
“Oh, you diet probably doesn’t allow that, does it?”

Excerpted from 5 Reasons to Keep Your Fitness Goals to Yourself | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

The only people I share my fitness goals with are the people on the blog and my doctor/ therapist/ new dietitian. Even now I am learning it is step by step process. Now my goal is to be my own best friend on this journey. However, I been trying out groupons only gym or studio place but so far is only one place. Anothing thing I noticed is trainers giving favoritism to more skinny fit people in smaller studios so I use that to determine where I am going to join.

henri October 13, 2013 - 4:46 AM

This is soo good and soo true, ypuve inspired me to get back on my weight loss journey, I have to share this!! Thank you x

Lau October 13, 2013 - 8:26 PM

That TED talk really rang true with me too!
http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_keep_your_goals_to_yourself.html

I do agree that sharing you weight loss and fitness goals/triumphs/experiences with a few like-minded souls can be really motivational though.

My partner and I are both trying to lose weight and get fit together, but we have totally different goals and totally different activities we like doing. It has been so so helpful though supporting each other and holding each other accountable.

For example, I love to swim, and so I told him I am going to the pool at least 3 times per week, and asked him to help me hold myself accountable. So if I get up one morning, and don’t want to go, and I’m bitching about how I don’t feel like it etc…he’ll just be like ‘Just go, it’ll be fine, it’s always fine once you’re in the pool.’ I’m basically asking him to do that for me and it works both ways; I know he likes to go to the gym on Tuesdays after work so if I talk to him during the day, I’ll just be like, ‘Ok, so you’re going to the gym tonight, yeah? OK well I’m gonna make xyz for dinner so see you when you get home.’

I have a few friends who are pretty fit and healthy so I’ll sometimes chat with them about what works for them/us, progress, etc- one friend is into ballet and another who used ot be a personal trainer. Sometimes we’ll have coffee or something after one of us has worked out and it can just be really affirming, more of a focus on how great we feel and how great it is to improve at something. I also love coming here for my dose of no-nonsense, commonsense motivational fitness chatter. : )

However, I don’t find it all that useful broadcasting my specific goals or even my activities much outside of that. People don’t need to know my goal weight, or my dress size, or…anything much really.

Sometimes people will ask how I lost this weight or how my partner did and I just try and give them a full picture – it’s been over 12 months now of walking everywhere, eating a balanced, nutritious diet made up of real whole foods, of working out, of getting enough sleep, of seriously cutting back on alcohol, reducing portion sizes, and of creating habits that form a healthy lifestyle. For me, it has been a very slow process of losing about 1 kilo per month, but that’s ok, because I will live like this for the rest of my life.

ANJI October 14, 2013 - 2:43 PM

Your are so right. I tried to keep it a secret until I had noticable weightloss. Then when people found out, everyone became very critical of what I was eating, drinking or how I was working out. I get more offers for food at work then ever. I dont know if people want to see if I will cave-in and at times people get offened if I say “No thank you”. But I keep my target goals in mind and stay focus. Now when I say “no thank you” I also add, “but thank you for offering”. I find that as much as people would like to believe they have had a part in my success or in part if I have a down fall (See, I told you she would gain it all back) at the end of the day the struggle is mine and whether it be a gain or loss I only have myself to answer to.

Kim October 20, 2013 - 11:11 AM

OH SO TRUE. The amount of people out there that go into malicious mode. Anything to prove you can’t do it, or what you are doing is bad for you or so on. I was telling my manager the other day how much weight I intended to lose in a generous amount of time and a new person in the team that doesn’t know me told me that there was no way that I could do it. He must have been talking about himself. The manager promptly went out and bought jam doughnuts and croissants then came and found me at the other side of the room and said I know your on a diet but would you want one. Crazy. Of course I said no and am on target to meet my goal.

Michelle L. November 3, 2013 - 11:00 PM

Oh…and added to the know it all category are those people who try and tell you that you won’t be able to lose that much weight and that you are doing to much. My personal favorite ….”you know you are going to gain it all back” or “well that first couple of pounds is just water weight”… and I am thinking, “oh I didn’t know you were a doctor and personal trainer”. smh

Suet Lin November 11, 2013 - 5:05 AM

I totally agree with the article and I have embarked on letting everyone know that I have a fitness goal, not really for support but to show the saboteurs that I can. The first 3 weeks was great, everyone showing support, then on my 4th week, people started becoming less supportive, some even implying that I am obsessed. I know where they are coming from and I push myself even harder. I can’t say that it does not affect me because it makes me think of how people, even those you thought were on your page, are not aware of their own envy. But it is ultimately their issue and I take it like this, “The more resistance I get, is only because my results are finally showing and it is pushing the haters in their face!” and I shall keep going.

Lynnette January 21, 2014 - 12:52 AM

This was a great article and it’s so true. Thanks!

Nicole January 28, 2014 - 11:42 PM

I can’t ever share when or why I’m clean eating, dieting o hitting the gym. Seems lips as soon as the word leave my lips someone is going to shoot it down with negative comments or remind me im “supposed” to be on a diet if ever they see food in my hand. Its not supportive its annoying!

Chrissy January 31, 2014 - 10:42 AM

Ah yes! Thank you! I had to learn this the hard way. I noticed certain friends and people at the office can add a lot of negative pressure and stress when knowing you are trying to lose weight or start a healthy lifestyle. The stress was/is leading me back to the emotional eating I was working towards getting away from. You tell yourself the change will not happen overnight yet those around you constantly ask questions as if change is suppose to happen that fast. My main goal is a lifestyle committed to being healthy and taking care of myself. The weight loss will come but it’s almost like the icing on the cake but not the whole cake on this journey (lol at using cake as an example). I could take the route of some quick fix “diet” to lose weight fast but it would be just that a quick fix. A lot of people don’t seem to understand that.

Chaya March 23, 2014 - 6:26 PM

Love the part about surrounding yourself with fit, like-minded people. By sharing my goals with them, I’ve learned much more about health benefits and small things I could change, and feel supported. It’s also boosted my motivation and confidence knowing that I can also help them!

Sheree May 23, 2014 - 10:19 AM

Great article! I agree. I am learning that keeping my fitness goals to myself is the best option. If I have a cupcake I get the oh should you be eating that. And it pisses me off. Stay out my mouth especially if you need to be joining me in making a lifestyle change. I have 4 people that are all about fitness and health and they are the ONLY ones I have been sharing goals and aspirations with. The others don’t get it!!!

Gabrielle February 16, 2015 - 1:30 AM

I love Love LOVE your blog and the tips and pointers that you give all of your readers. It’s like you address that things that we have questions about and the things that we are “sure” no one else is experiencing. I had a slap in the face realization not too long ago about this exact same subject. If you give up on your goals temporarily or decide that what you were doing isn’t working for you then it seems like people can’t remember your birthday, but they can remember the type of diet you were trying or what you said that you won’t eat. It never ceases to amaze me. I’m taking the more action, less discussion pledge from now on!

Felicity Kayne May 19, 2015 - 2:18 PM

I totally agree with you Erika! I used to share my goals all full of excitement and it would be great to get the approval and feedback from others but my problem is that I always tend to be over-optimistic when setting them. Then I inevitably fall short of the goal and then feel embarrassed. Now I just keep them quiet and only share if I have actually achieved something!

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