Stemming from a few comments the other day on “Weight Loss Is For People With Low Self-Esteem,” comes this issue of goal setting.
Conversations about weight are always brought to me in terms of numbers.
“How much have you lost? Oh, my gosh! What’s your goal weight? Are you there yet? Are you still losing? How much more do you want to lose?”
Numbers, numbers, numbers. It’s so bizarre.
I can tell someone I weigh 110, and that person has no idea whether or not that weight is “sensible” for me or my daily functions. Why? Because “sensible” includes my height (110 looks very different on six feet tall and five feet tall), my body composition, and everything in between. It’s just not that simple.
We grind things down into bare bones numbers because it simplifies the conversation – I get that. And there’s nothing wrong with having even a passing interest in what’s going on with me and asking “typical small talk weight questions” – particularly if you’re someone I care about. Those aren’t what my problem is, though. My problem is, really, something that’s my own fault… and really isn’t even a problem at all, if you ask me.
My problem is that I don’t have a weight loss goal. All this weight gone, and I still don’t have a weight loss goal. That’s right. I said it.I have no “once I reach this number, I’ll be happy” weight. And I don’t think I ever will.
My experience with numbers is that they don’t quantify much. They just… don’t. The scale (and, subsequently, losing weight) don’t quantify how healthy you’ll be or how able you are to handle your daily business.
Here’s an example: I’m a lover of pole fitness. I had to learn how to use my muscles in conjunction with one another in order to accomplish the moves I wanted to do. No matter how thin you are, if you don’t have the upper body strength to lift yourself up off the floor… if you don’t have the leg strength to keep them in the air as you spin… if you don’t have the abs to be able to flip yourself over… you will be limited in what you can do. No scale could quantify that ability.
Here’s another example: I, a former asthmatic, am a runner. I run. I run to become faster. I run because I have nightmares of outrunning zombie— errr, let’s just say I’d like to be able to protect Mini-me and myself if need be. The first time I ran my first full mile, I cried. Like a total wuss. No scale could predict when I’d be able to accomplish that. Hell, I couldn’t even predict when I’d be able to accomplish that… and I’m the one doing the running.
One last example: I want to look svelte and sleek and sexy in my progress bikini. I want well-built thighs, tight arms, a six pack and a toned neck and shoulders. I lift weights because I want to achieve that. I spent 6 months lifting weights like nobody’s business, and lost maybe 7lbs on the scale. I also lost almost 30lbs of fat. I lost, but what I gained was so much more valuable and important. If my focus was purely on “reaching my goal number,” I might be silly enough to stop weight lifting just to reach that goal number. (Calm down, I said I might be.)
I accepted a long time ago that numbers won’t decide whether or not I look how I want at a certain weight. And even though I get the general gist of the questions.. I do wonder what people think a “goal weight” quantifies other than “a loss of mass.”
I don’t think I ever had a goal. I changed my habits and kind of just enjoyed the weight loss and increased activity levels as they came.
That does make me wonder, though. Do we see goals as something to politely and calmly reach, and then relax upon reaching there? Or do we see them as “mile markers” in a marathon – “Yeah, I reached this marker, but I think I’ll still keep going?”
And do we see goals as public property and “small talk?” As complicated as my current goals are, I certainly don’t think I can talk about them in a conversation with people who are only slightly interested in me. I don’t say that to imply that people shouldn’t ask – I don’t mind that – but I do mean that perhaps we should be careful regarding how we discuss our goals and who we share them with.
Enter the video above, sent to me by @quiethaylestorm. I actually think it’s cute that he references fitness in his slideshow. I also think that’s appropriate.
When I first started, two people knew. My then-boyfriend, and my Mother. He knew because he’d have to deal with my changing body and lifestyle, and Mom because she was watching my Mini-me while I worked it out at the gym at night. When I first began working on my eating habits, another two people knew… and again, only because I needed their guidance and support. The only people who were aware of my goals were the people directly related to me achieving them.
I kept my goals to myself because I knew that I was unsure of myself – unsure of the mechanics behind why I was successful – and I didn’t want to leave myself open to bad advice and negativity. I knew that I was insecure about it, and the only way to change that was to spend time educating myself before I thrust myself into the open about it. Not only that, but I tend to be really dismissive of unwanted advice and unnecessary criticism. I don’t care to hear about how someone thinks women who lift weights are manly. I just.. I’d rather bypass the entire situation and choose my words more carefully.
The only reason I started publicly talking about my weight loss was because, after a certain point, I couldn’t really hide it anymore. Otherwise, I’d still be hiding away from everyone but my “investors”… and just bust out with my phenomenal physique like “Ta-dow! How ya like me now?!”
I agree with him, though. I believe that using your time to reflect on your goals (instead of allowing yourself to be patted on the back for actually having the goal) is much more effective in helping you get there. I understand why people tell me their goals – especially considering the position I’m in with having this blog – but in general conversation? Some things, to me, should be better protected.
While being able to see a specific number on the scale might be exciting, it’s not as long-lasting as the abilities you might develop on your journey or the knowledge you’d acquire along the way. Maybe I’m silly for thinking it’s more valuable to set a more meaningful goal than “losing a few pounds,” but for someone like me… that was the best thing I could do for myself. The abilities I’ve developed on my path have changed my quality of life forever. I’ve developed new habits that have changed my life. They ensure that I’ll never have to worry about putting on those “few pounds” ever again.
To wrap this up… I love my goals because they’re meaningful, and what’s more – they’re going to prevent me from backsliding. I love my trusted support system, because they’ve stood beside me as I’ve gotten this far… through the entire thing. I love myself enough to recognize that I don’t need anyone else’s validation of my goals. They’re good enough for me, and as long as I keep striving towards them… the important stuff is all under control. Everything else, to me, is unnecessary.
What about you? Do you prefer to set number goals over anything else? Do you keep your goals to yourself, or do you share? What are your thoughts on the video?