Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A little at a time

I want to talk about goals for a minute.

Successful people have goals. Successful people know where they want to be. But the real secret of successful people in reaching those goals? Isn't in setting them. It's in deciding how to get there.

There's a phrase that I like, which sums up very well the idea about how goal-setting works: Plan the Work, then Work the Plan.

If you look up at the top of my blog, you'll see a weight loss ticker with a scale slowly trekking from 0 to 150. See, I set a goal of losing 150 pounds for myself, and the ticker is one way that I track my progress towards that goal.

But seriously stopping and thinking about 150 pounds doesn't help me as I work towards meeting that goal. It's too big. It's a ridiculously high number! Logically, I know it'll take around 18 months of hard work to get myself there. Eighteen months! Holy shit, that's a long time! So I don't think about 150 pounds, and I don't think about a year and a half. I think about five pounds. Five measley little pounds. Shit, five pounds? Five pounds is easy. And I *always* think about my weight in five pound increments. The couple times I haven't, it's shown on the scale. I lose focus. I lose my way.

I a way, I'm lucky I guess. I started at 335 pounds. That means that every time I lose five pounds, I'm really completing one of two slightly larger goals. One of them is to get into a new "weight decade". I lose 5 pounds (and technically 0.1 more), and I'm out of the 330s and into the 320s. A whole new weight decade to think about! And then I let that thought fall out of my pretty little head and I instead focus again on 5 pounds. Five itty bitty pounds. And once I knock those next five off, I'm at 325 - and my next bigger goal is met - I've lost a nice round number of 10 pounds! Wow! Easy! And then I just focus on the next five pounds and look, we're back to another new weight decade! lol. And pretty soon, the decades keep going down and the total lost keeps going up. And today I'm looking at the number at the top. I don't have to lose 150 pounds any more; I only have to lose 94.5 pounds. Shit, that's not even triple digits! Holy shit - it's NOT triple digits! See? I hadn't even thought of it like that before right now. Because 150 wasn't digestible as a number. It's just too big. But five pounds is totally digestible. And the beauty of five pounds is, if I'm working at it, it takes two weeks to drop. Three if things are going way wrong, but I've also done it in only one. So I'm getting constant positive reinforcement for my efforts. And every now and then (like yesterday) I remember to look into some bigger things, like new pants. It'd been two months since I'd last thought about new pants until yesterday. Because they weren't my daily focus. Five pounds. That's it. That's how I look at it.

I eat for fuel. I don't eat after 7pm. I drink only water (or try to). I do 20 minutes on the elliptical 5 days a week. I weight-train a different body part 5 days a week for 30 minutes. I focus on losing five pounds. That's what I do. I've planned my work, now I work my plan.

Sure, from time to time I botch it. I eat poorly. I have froofy coffees. I gain weight. But I don't beat myself up anymore over it. I'm experienced enough to know that I'll go take care of it. That those days are now the odd day.

So when you think about where you want to be, write it down. Then write down how you plan to get there. Then write down what you're going to do today. And tomorrow. And how you're going to lose five pounds. Then go lose the five. Then do it again. And then? After you've had some success losing the five pounds? Take a look at the big goal again. You may find it's not so ridiculous anymore.



Kristen said...

I did it via the "weight decades" method too. It all seemed so much easier once I broke it down into 5 and 10 lbs increments. After losing 5 lbs, I was close to that decade. After I entered that next decade, I was so encouraged to lose 5 more lbs...then I pushed harder to get into the next decade...and so on...

Andrew is getting fit said...

I reckon that is a very good approach as it's the one I took!

Donnalouise, Donna or DC said...

OMG!!! It sounds like I could have written this post. That's exactly what I do - 5lbs at a time. Wonderful!!! You have it nailed baby! I'm positive this "looking at things from a simpler smaller point-of-view" will help you lose all the weight and keep it off. Good for you!

Twice the Man said...

Great post! Your right it is all about those small steps. I see every 10 pounds as a short-term victory and I have also been looking at mid-term goals, so instead of saying that at 310 pounds and 6'1 I need to get down to my IBW of 174 (136 lb loss) which is down right overwhelming; I work on losing my next 40 pounds (with each mid-term goal a little less then the last). At my current size 40 does not overwhelm, but puts the fire under me not too slack also.

Kimberly said...

You are so right. Focus on the short term and the long term will take care of itself. I had 200 pounds to lose. That is exhausting to think about. 200 pounds is like 2 6th graders. Holy crap! But I don't think about the 200 pounds. I think about today. What can I do today? But the biggest thing I have really learned that helped me to finally succeed as a dieter is that beating myself up for slip ups doesn't help anything. So I don't care if I slip up because tomorrow is always waiting to give me a fresh start. Tomorrow is a brand new day all fresh and shiny and new.

Skye's the Limit said...

I definitely know how you feel. Losing 140 pounds is just inconceivable to me. That's why I focus on 10 pounds at a time. Maybe I need to try 5 though. Sometimes, I think 10 is taking too long as well. Congrats on your success!

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