Are you a health practitioner that’s ready to uplevel your practice? What we know about how to change and heal is shifting. I want you to be a part of this change.
I’m hosting a live SMART Goals: How they Sabotage Eating and Exercise Goals Workshop that involves a paradigm-shifting approach to goal setting and coaching. I’ll also pull back the curtain on the special sauce of the Truce Coaching Certification. CLICK HERE to register for the workshop.
I love pursuing goals and challenging myself.
But what I discovered in finally succeeding with my health and weight loss goals is the goals I set were misguided. I set myself up for failure from the start.
Dr. Michelle Segar, a health behavior change expert, writes:
Eating and exercise are in a class of their own when it comes to behavior change—and for a very important reason. In our society, both behaviors are inextricably tied to losing weight. This infuses goals to eat better and exercise more with any number of negative and complicated experiences and associations that our life history has firmly planted in our memories, minds, and bodies.
A thought experiment: Think of your current eating and exercise goals and ask, “If I knew these goals wouldn’t lead to weight loss, would I still pursue them?”.
What we often think we are doing for health and to feel better, is most deeply about weight loss. We end up making eating and exercise logic goals like SMART goals when they are actually intensely emotional.
For example, there’s a big difference between having a goal to not be on your phone as much versus exercising more. The phone goal can be used with traditional goal setting approaches. But exercising more is usually much more complicated.
There is soooo much to this value gap of “I want to want to be healthy.”
Most of us grow up learning health = thinness. Then couple our past experiences of being treated badly when we were heavier and better when we were thinner and now you have an adaptive change process, where the right goal isn’t immediately obvious.
Now, it doesn’t have to be either/or. Eating and exercise goals can be about weight loss AND feeling immediately better for ourselves. Especially as adults, our goals must produce immediate improvement in our lives for change to stick.
To effectively navigate this complexity, our goals need to center a more expanded definition of health that makes us feel better and better. Immediately.
In my Truce Coaching, we call these immediate health improvements Quick Fixes.
Because these Quick Fix results become like a boulder rolling down the hill, making change and consistency easier. Many of these changes – and the newfound consistency – lead to weight loss.
Here’s some goal prompts that honor the emotionally unique category of eating and exercise goals and how adults actually change (not the fantasy).
I’ve included my own thought process with my own recent eating and exercise goals because real life examples are super helpful.
What body discomfort do you have that would improve your overall health, not just your weight? How can you resolve this body discomfort aside from weight loss?
A recent example for me was wearing shoes around the house to resolve my plantar fasciitis. I thought my foot pain was from my weight gain, but my podiatrist told me it was from working out barefoot while pregnant. My goal became to order shoes I’d want to wear around the house to improve the pain (!).
As the pain decreased, I could exercise more. My Quick Fixes I was tracking with more exercise were resolving body pain, energy, and emotional resilience (a toddler essential!).
And because being tired is my main chocolate trigger, more energy eliminates my afternoon chocolate snack, which can help with weight loss.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, how can exercise improve, not sabotage, your sleep?
For me, my insomnia was partly stress-related. This meant my cortisol was too high. Doing cardio would sabotage my sleep by increasing my cortisol levels.
So, strength training made sense for exercise. My Quick Fixes were tracking better sleep, stable moods, productivity, creativity, and being an active parent with Eça.
Better sleep also decreases hunger, makes you more satisfied from your food and strength training is essential in your 40s for health and weight loss.
If you’re having perimenopause symptoms, what sort of diet and exercise shifts support quality of life during this major transition?
For me, part of resolving my perimenopause-influenced insomnia was discovering I needed more protein and complex carbs. My Quick Fixes were what I mentioned above and tracking recovery from my now, more intense exercise as I got stronger.
This dietary shift also supports shifting my body composition in mid-life, when to build muscle, you need more protein. And the more muscle you have, the more likely you are to be at a healthy weight for yourself.
If you’re a health coach, these non-scale “Quick Fixes” are when clients develop genuine intrinsic motivation, instead of the un-sustainability of fear-based “motivation” driven by past emotionally loaded body experiences.
I share these examples so you can see how to stick with your goals and hold the AND for weight loss. Because while weight loss as a goal can get us started, it won’t keep us going.
While I recently lost 20 pounds, this was over 18 months. Because my motivation to lose weight waxes and wanes. If weight loss were my only motivation, I wouldn’t have exceeded my previous exercise goals (I’ll share more in my next post).
As the season shifts and you think about revisiting or revising your eating and exercise goals, think about:
1. What body discomfort do I have that I want to improve?
2. What “Quick Fixes” beyond weight loss can I pay attention to to track to feel better immediately?
And remember, patience and self-compassion are essential. After decades of tying every health habit or health problem to our weight, your thought process won’t change overnight. Plus that’s not the goal 😜
And if you are a practitioner who wants to learn more about effectively setting eating and exercise goals, join me for my SMART Goals: How they Sabotage Eating and Exercise Goals. And what works instead for deeper Coaching Impact on Tuesday, August 23. Register or learn more here.
I’ll be back shortly on how I set my own exercise goals to exceed my expectations for myself and my body (and why I hate the phrase “non-scale wins”)!
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