A football player running for the end zone focuses solely on that end zone. He runs fast, evades his opponents, and holds tight to the ball until he crosses the goal line. Getting to your goal weight is important, but unlike that football player, focusing solely on the end goal instead of on the process as you go along is a misstep for both weight loss and weight maintenance.
What’s the magic number you want to see on the scale?
It could be 125, 150, 200, 136, 192, or any other number.
It’s so tempting to set that magic number in your mind and just focus on it to the exclusion of anything else.
Of course, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have that goal number in mind because setting goals is good. What I am saying is that not focusing enough on the nuts and bolts of weight loss will backfire on you in the end.
What’s Important About the Process?
The process of losing weight is not just about getting to your magic number. It’s also about:
- Learning new ways to cook
- Discovering how to handle complex social situations
- Finding out how you best deal with food cravings
- Determining what foods you will and won’t include in your diet
- Exploring exercise options that work for you
- Transitioning to a new healthy lifestyle
My most successful clients are those who don’t rush through the weight loss process without learning important lessons about food and themselves.
They are also the ones who maintain their weight the longest.
What Happens When You Focus Only on the End Number?
Focusing mainly on your goal weight robs you of the opportunity to learn the lessons I talked about above. It’s nearly impossible to truly embrace your new healthy lifestyle when all you care about is whether the number on the scale is going down.
When you don’t have a long-term, permanent lifestyle view of weight loss, you can easily be swayed to trying to lose weight in the fastest way possible without regard to your health.
Here's an example of someone I know: Linda (not her real name, of course) wanted desperately to lose 35 pounds before her daughter’s graduation. She told me later that she knew better, but she began losing weight by eating a very low-calorie diet—think under 1,200 calories—and exercising for a good long time every single day.
She managed to lose most of the weight but gained it back very quickly.
Why did she gain it all back?
Instead of processing what she needed to do to lose weight permanently, finding a plan that would support (and not hurt) her health, and acknowledging that weight loss can only be long term if lifestyle changes are made, she jumped on the fad diet bandwagon.
She was so depressed after the regain. But she did learn a lesson and finally lost weight in a more deliberate manner. She still had the same end number in mind but went about the process in a healthier manner. It took her a little longer but the result has been lasting weight loss.
Although focusing mainly on your goal weight may seem to be a good idea, ask yourself this question:
At the end of your journey, will you have learned enough about how not to regain weight to make your weight loss last a lifetime?
If you can’t honestly answer that question with a “yes,” then I want you to take a moment to slow down and reassess your weight loss plan.
I think you will come to the point where you, like my friend Linda, realize that focusing only on the end number is doing yourself—and possibly your health—a disservice.