Weight Loss Support - Removing time frames from goals

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Rock Chalk Chick
03-04-2009, 10:28 AM
Ok, so I had my first wedding dress fitting on Saturday (and it's going to look amazing!), and was feeling so good about losing 15 pounds in the last month that I decided to set myself a goal of another 15 pounds before the wedding (2 months away).

Somehow, in a matter of 3 days, I've been so obsessed by the goal I've set, that I'm getting anxious and pessimistic about meeting this deadline. I've done this too many times before - I set myself a deadline, promise myself I'll weigh X by then... and when I don't/can't meet that, I get really frustrated and negative ("I'll never lose weight... I may as well never try..." etc).

I've made such wonderful progress in a short time by taking it one day at a time, knowing that I'll get there when I get there. And I feel so good about it - I know that I'm in this for the long run, that I know what I need to do and it'll get me where I need to be. And yet I managed to fall back into the trap of setting myself a deadline (aka "goal"), and in a matter of days I have fallen into the same old circle!

So, I'm removing the "goal" lines from my signature, and focusing on doing what I need to do while letting my body do what it wants. I will lose the weight - and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter if I do it in 6 months or 36 months... I'm getting stronger, leaner, and healthier - and every time I've set deadlines I end up doing things for all the wrong reasons.

Has anyone else been through this? Is anyone else just monitoring progress without any specific endpoint in mind? Any advice on how to avoid the temptations of setting timelines?

03-04-2009, 11:04 AM
Has anyone else been through this?

Yes, yes, yes! The time frame mentality really messed me up in the past. I would calculate (quite sensible) projected weight losses and mark them in my calendar. Once the date would come up, I had usually fallen off the wagon a long time back, and seeing this "projected" weight made me laugh/cry, depending on the prevailing mood... ETA, my wedding date was one of them - so glad I heeded my mother's advice and didn't buy the smaller dress because "surely I'll lose 20 pounds by then!" :dizzy:

One of the most important things I learned this time around (and yes, reading 3FC definitely had something to do with that) is to set action-oriented goals, not weight-loss goals. I cannot directly control how much weight my body is going to drop in a preset period. There are so many factors that are out of my reach - water retention, hormonal changes, metabolism, who knows what else.

Instead, I set goals regarding those aspects I can control - eating within my calories, eating relatively clean, exercising, and some other stuff.

That said, I still fall into the time-line trap from time to time, and it always messes with my routine and my peace of mind, leading to binges, obsessive behavior and whatnot. Latest example: some weeks ago, I wanted to step up my efforts to "lose as much as possible before going to visit my family". I reduced my calories, stepped up my exercise, lost some pounds, stopped losing, hey presto, two day binge.

I dusted myself off and got back on track right away. On the track that keeps me sane - focusing on actions, not numbers on the scale or the calendar.

One thing that helps me is to keep in mind that with this action-oriented approach, I managed to lose about 20% of my body weight and to maintain that loss for quite some time now. This never happened before, with the goal-oriented approach, because I'd get frustrated, fall of the wagon, and proceed to eat said wagon. Now I know that even if I don't lose a single pound this month (and there have been months like that) - if I still eat healthily, if I still exercise, NO ONE is going to take the other benefits of that from me. The benefit of building healthy habits, of sleeping better, of feeling strong and capable, of improving my endurance and strength, of lowering my stress and anxiety levels, of aiding my digestion, my hair and skin, of not regaining all those pounds...

OK, I'm starting to babble now. Anyway, your posting really spoke to me. Keep up the great work and the great mindset! And congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

Lori Bell
03-04-2009, 11:20 AM
I've been all over the place with goal setting. I've set weight loss deadlines and never came close, I've set them and successfully met them, I haven't set them and gained 100 pounds, I haven't set them and lost 100 pounds. I really think it all boils down to what I like to call the *magic switch*...I think it's in all of us. When it's "on" you just know without a doubt you'll succeed and you just don't need a time frame, because you don't care how long it takes, you are only focused on getting there. Once the switch is on though, it is fun to challange yourself from time to time. What ever works for you is the best way to approach weight loss.

03-04-2009, 11:37 AM
Ive soooo over setting dates and times , i would never do it again i just go with the flow! that way im happier with what i lose instead of thinking "Darn it i didnt get to my goal this month"

03-04-2009, 11:55 AM
I have a deadline-driven job (the pieces that my department works on publish at 4 PM daily -- if something doesn't make it, it runs over to the next day, or it's dead). On weekdays, you could chart my stress & adrenalin levels pretty much according to that deadline. I am very good at short-term deadlines. But I am very bad at long-term deadlines. I procrastinate, and then do something at the very end, with the same rush of adrenalin as I usually get for a short turnaround.

That's probably why I decided not to set a deadline for my weight loss. My mantra was this: "It just has to be less. Slightly less is okay. If it's the same, it's not a tragedy. Learn from it & keep going." A little bit less & a little bit less adds up. Eventually. It was easier to live with that idea of "eventually."

I did have shorter-term goals.

I'd wake up thinking I needed to eat healthily, just for that day. Or even, just for the next meal. Or just for a particular hour or so, when I'm usually vulnerable. About 2:30-3:30 is usually my hard time.

The other goal was that I had to exercise that day. Had to. This was non-negotiable. If I really needed a dispensation from this rule, then it had to be a rare thing, like once every month or every two months.

But no, there was never a particular date for handing in my project (i.e., my newly slender body). If there had been, particularly if it had been months ahead, I would have procastinated or gotten nervous about it & I would have blown it.

03-04-2009, 12:24 PM
Weight loss time goals are the death of me. When I fall behind, I get very tempted to try to "catch up" with very unhealthy behaviors, get very discouraged when I don't make them, and feel like a failure if I don't meet the goal (even if I'm very, very close).

I've been using a very low pressure approach, and want to kick it up a bit, but chose to do it with a sticker chart and small rewards for exercise and weight loss.

03-04-2009, 12:37 PM
I think we all have to find what works for ourselves. And that will vary greatly from person to person

For me, a goal, a reasonalble goal, one that I don't freak out about if I don't meet, helps ME to keep the course. For me it was not good enough saying, "I want to lose weight". Well, ummm, when do you want to lose weight? In a month, 6 months, a year? It was just too easy for me to push things off.

To me, making a goal means setting a plan and a course of action to get to that goal.

It really is an individual thing though. There is no right or wrong way to approach it. Just different prespectives.

03-04-2009, 01:09 PM
I'm right there with those of you who stress over goals. My hubby thinks they make me totally obsessive about weight loss. He would be correct. :)

In the past, I've tended to set goals around events (like being a certain weight by a rowing regatta), which just makes me insane. My weight fluctuates lots during the month (hormones, since limiting sodium doesn't resolve the issue), and makes weekly goals impossible to set.

This time around, I've been focusing on making sustainable decisions about weight loss- things I can do now and maintain for the next 40 years or so. I'm attending a weekly meeting forever now. I'm committed to finding a way to exercise in a group all year long. I'm weighing in weekly, but looking at my weight loss average over months. (I'm tracking using a trend line, which I love.)

It's amazing to me how unique we each are in both body and mind.... I think the most important thing with this is to just know yourself- and what works for you- and to accept that.

03-04-2009, 01:49 PM
Oh I can definitely relate. America's Next Top Model is casting in my area on the 11th of this month and when I first found out, I turned obsessed and somehow convinced myself I could lose 30 pounds in 3 weeks. Well, the first 4 days I lost 10 pounds (in a not-at-all healthy way), but ended up so ill I had to go to see my Dr., get fluids, etc. Not the way to go. I've decided that hey, they'll probably be around next season as well, and I think 6 - 12 months is a much better time frame than 3 weeks. I've also decided that my health is far more important than auditioning for a show that I may or may not get on.

I still get tempted to set time-frame goals and I am doing the mini goals here, but I'm learning to take it as it is. The mini-goals help keep me on track and even if I don't hit them, I've come further than I was before. It's hard, but worth it.

03-04-2009, 08:25 PM
One of the most important things I learned this time around (and yes, reading 3FC definitely had something to do with that) is to set action-oriented goals, not weight-loss goals. I cannot directly control how much weight my body is going to drop in a preset period.

Wow! Yes! That makes sooooo much sense. And, yet, hadn't thought of it that way before. Thank you.

I totally do the time things ... well, I use events. The worst part of it is, I tell myself I won't go unless I weight x amount. Looking back on the past few years, I get so sad at all the things I've made myself miss because I wouldn't go at that particular weight.

I have the biggest event coming up in May and I'm trying so hard to tell myself to not set a goal weight for going ... just go if I want. And just do the right things food/exercise wise regardless of "dealine". Seems I just end up creating huge emotional knots for myself that result in overeating and binging and giving up and beating myself up.

Action-oriented goals ... I have to go sit in a quiet space and really absorb that

03-04-2009, 11:47 PM
YES YES YES. No more deadlines.
I am doing much better with the action goals too. Goal to stay on plan for 3 days, to exercise 5 days this week etc. The scale should only be a part of the journey.
You are absolutely right in your thinking. With the stress you will be under on the way to your wedding, a goal to eat well and avoid gaining would be appropriate. If you eat well, you MAY lose weight, but that doesn't need to be the goal. Having a great wedding and loving marriage with a healthy you is a wonderful goal. Enjoy you day. With your sensible attitude you will do great.

03-05-2009, 02:22 AM
I have marked on my calendar at least 5 times when I'd be down to my goal weight. All it ever did was discourage me. Right now I feel like I'm doing everything right and the weight isn't coming off, I just keep telling myself when it wants to come off, it will. This has calmed me down much more and I don't think about it nearly as much as I used to.

03-05-2009, 10:46 AM
So, I'm removing the "goal" lines from my signature, and focusing on doing what I need to do while letting my body do what it wants. I will lose the weight - and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter if I do it in 6 months or 36 months... I'm getting stronger, leaner, and healthier - and every time I've set deadlines I end up doing things for all the wrong reasons.

Yes! Thank you for this insight. I have removed my St. Patrick's Day goal ticker from my signature. I had set a pretty agressive goal for myself. I have hardly been losing at all and was starting to feel depressed, upset, and maybe even a little desperate over it.

As Heffalump suggests, I am going to make my goals action-oriented. I cannot control what the scale says, but I can control what I eat and how much I exercise, so that's what I am going to focus on. Yes, I like the scale because it helps me to measure results but for me, setting deadlines on whether or not the scale moves just makes me stressed out. Progress is progress; just because it's slower than some arbitrary measure I have set in my head doesn't make me a failure!

Thanks for all the great insight!

03-05-2009, 11:35 AM
Ya, I'm pretty much over goal timelines as well.

It's strange though, even if I lose only a pound a week or just stay the same, I'm happy. Afterall, I'm at a reasonably low weight anyway. But a while ago I printed out a calendar(when I weighed closer to 170) that basically had goal weights every two weeks that showed where my progress would be if I lost 1.5-2 pounds per week and something about seeing how long it would take/the fact that I wasnt losing that fast made me feel really defeated.

So I'm thrilled if I maintain or lose a pound, but seeing long term goals makes it almost seem too big? So I'm really just trying to do this one day at a time and not stress about when I'll get there. The prospect of goal doesn't even REALLY do anything for me yet. It's too far. And since I've never weighed that little I have nothing to really base what my body will look like on. But I know the day I'm in the 140's I will be OVER THE MOON.

03-05-2009, 04:44 PM
I broke my goals down into 10lb increments, having to lose so much weight, I thought it seemed more "doable" and not as daunting. When I hit those goals, I bought myself a little something as a reward. A new handbag was my first one. Then a wallet. Then a pair of slippers. It was fun.

03-05-2009, 04:46 PM
On one hand, I think setting up time goals helps motivates the individual to keep going in their weight loss goals :)

On the other hand, I've gotten frustrated myself when for what ever reason, my body just doesn't cooperate with me in losing a certain number of weight by a certain date, anniversary, or holiday! ;)

It's a 50-50 thing in my opinion :)

03-05-2009, 04:57 PM
For me it is going to be one day at a time, one meal at a time, one bite at a time. That is how this 50 lbs will come off and stay off.