I got a very excellent question from a reader over the weekend. She was interested in whether focusing on goals or behaviors was more important in the weight loss process.
This is such an important concept to consider in many areas of our lives, but especially when trying to get to a healthier weight. Losing weight does involve setting goals, it does involve changing behaviors, and it does involve a lot of soul-searching.
Goal setting is absolutely important in the weight loss and fitness arenas; however, we sometimes get so involved in setting goals that we forget what will ultimately lead us to meeting those goals.
Behavioral changes enable us to meet goals.
Behavioral changes and healthy choices are what get us to that ultimate goal of losing weight and keeping it off. Without change, there is no way you will reach your goal. For example, as I outline in my book, one of the techniques I decided to use to get to a healthier weight was to exercise regularly. My goal was to start an exercise program, but unless I made the behavioral change of getting up earlier and actually walking down the street, I was never going to meet that goal.
Another example of a necessary behavioral change is our food choices. We may set a goal of eating less processed food, but unless we change our purchasing behavior and consumption of processed foods, we will not ever reach that particular goal. Portion control is another behavioral change that is necessary to help us not only control calories, but also to learn to be satisfied with a reasonable portion. (This can be hard in our super-sized society.)
Other areas in the weight loss arena that involve behavioral changes may be making a commitment to eating breakfast, running a certain distance, becoming more flexible, reducing the number of calories eaten, or counting calories. Each of those goals require at least one or more behaviors.
If you focus only on a goal such as “I’m going to lose 20 pounds by March 1st,” you may find yourself easily discouraged if you do not meet that goal. Likewise, if you set a goal of fitting into a certain pair of jeans by a high school reunion or other event, and don’t reach your goal, you may quit trying.
I used to be very guilty of setting what turned out to be unrealistic goals and quitting my weight loss efforts. I also failed in changing my behaviors to meet those goals which were attainable. I somehow wanted the whole weight loss process to magically work without a lot of behavioral changes. For most of us, we have become overweight because of poor choices in certain areas of our lives – whether it is food choices, a sedentary lifestyle, or a combination of both.
For us, behavioral changes allow us to meet our goals.
As you move from weight loss to weight maintenance, cementing those positive behavioral changes by practice, practice, practice can help you maintain your weight for years to come.
What do you think? How are behavioral changes and goal setting interlinked in weight loss? Diane