A MUCH better goal to have during a weight loss plateaushare on: facebook | twitter | google+ | reddit
Many months ago I wrote a short post called How to create goals YOU ACTUALLY USE that PROPEL YOU to success enumerating the steps for achievable goals.
Achievable goals are crispy (as my business teachers Amy Hoy & Alex Hillman would say). They are clearly defined, written down, measurable, and attainable.
If you create a vague goal like "I'd like to make more money", you won't have any way of knowing when you achieved it. What is more? A couple dollars? Millions? The goal will sit around forever because it has no point of termination.
Goals like those outlined in that post are goals that have self-motivating properties. You can actually make progress towards them and move towards a real finish line.
But not always...
When I wrote that article I was on a hot streak.
Month after month I was predictably setting and completing weight loss goals like "Lose 5 pounds by end of month" or "Hit a weight of at least 195 by June 31st".
5 months ago that all stopped.
Each month I would set a weight loss goal that would put me under 180 pounds like "Hit 177 pounds by end of month" and I would miss it.
For 5 months in a row!
So for over 5 months now I have been hovering around 180 pounds.
For my height and build, that's a perfectly healthy, average weight.
It's a weight my body has settled at and I have struggled to get much below it for a number of (mostly psychological) reasons. My goal is, of course, to reach a level of leanness to get the famed "six pack" sculpted look which I will eventually get to with consistency and training.
At this point, I likely have no more than 10-20 more pounds of fat to lose to reach that leanness (in the 160-175 pound scale weight range).
What is keeping me from dropping that last chunk is mostly an inability to hit my deficit consistently. Stress related food binges, too much eating out, and the simple resistance my body is giving me as it tries to maintain some fat for evolutionary safety.
This is what happens when you approach the final stages of a diet.
I've hit a weight plateau and, by the nature of my goals, a goal plateau.
A better goal during a plateau
I thought about it some more and I realized that at this point, I can't rely on my scale weight to always go down some specific amount each month.
Especially with consistent strength training (muscle building).
The above type of goal isn't totally in my control, and like I mentioned above, good short term goals that actually motivate you are ones that you have full control over completing, they can't be left up to chance in the way that scale weight can be during a plateau or in the later stages of a diet.
So I've come up with something better this month.
Instead of losing a certain amount of scale weight, my goal is "hit at or below my calorie goal 3 weekdays and 1 weekend day".
I have full control over how much food I eat and having a set written goal for the month to stay in bounds is way more achievable and actually excites me. I actually feel kinda silly I didn't think of it before.
Perhaps you've already been doing this and are like "Duh, Joe"...
Hey, you live and you learn.
The extra stress I was creating by thinking about a magical scale number that I had to hit by end of month is now over. All I have to do now is gradually improve my consistency of hitting my calorie deficit with the help of goals like these.
It's still no guarantee, but as long as I complete this goal, my plan is to increase the number of days until I reach a point that I've strengthened my "hitting the deficit" muscle enough that it begins to happen without so much struggle.
If I miss the goal I'll just dial it back and remove days until I do complete it.
That's how you experiment.
Oh and I figured while I'm here, if you'd like to get the template I use for writing my short, medium, and long term goals, sign up for my newsletter below. Don't worry, I don't spam, I just email you these articles every sunday - a day or two before everyone else get's em, along with other helpful goodies.