One of the most common, and yet paradoxical, mistakes I have observed people making in pursuit of weight loss is focusing too much on weight loss.
Don’t get me wrong: In order to lose weight, you have to be somewhat focused on weight loss to ensure you’re doing what’s necessary to achieve it. However, there is a such thing as focusing too much on losing weight, and doing so keeps folks from successfully dropping pounds.
You may now be asking the question, “So how would focusing on weight loss keep me from losing weight?” I’m glad to explain.
First of all, when we focus excessively on losing weight, it is almost guaranteed that we weigh ourselves frequently. We weigh ourselves at home, at the gym, and at pretty much anywhere we can find a scale.
The problem with this is that we consequentially neglect what really matters, which is our health. If you’re upset because the scale says you gained two pounds since breakfast, chances are that your mind is contemplating eating less in an attempt to lose the weight that you think you gained since breakfast. Such an approach is wrong and can easily become obsessive.
What the number on the scale says from day to day isn’t nearly as important as how that number changes over the long term. In the short term, we eat, drink, use the restroom and breathe. All of these things affect our weight moment by moment. The gain or loss of fat tissue, however, is a complicated process that cannot be noticed on the scale in a matter of hours — or even days. Because many of us don’t realize this, we trouble ourselves every day by constantly stepping on the scale.
The second way that focusing on weight loss can prevent us from losing weight is because it can encourage you to attempt to lose weight in unsustainable ways. We attempt “Biggest Loser” tactics — like essentially starving ourselves or performing hours of exercise every day — until finally burning ourselves out and finding that we eventually gain the weight back, plus a couple more pounds. We hop from diet to diet because we perceive that one diet works better than the next, when in reality most nutritionally-sound diets would actually work if we simply remained consistent.
If this column resonates with you, I would like to offer a suggestion. Rather than focusing on whether your weight goes up or down, instead focus on eating as healthy as you can, and on accomplishing some physical goal.
When you focus on eating healthily, make sure that the large majority of what you eat is natural. Fitness great Jack Lalanne explained this best when he said “if man makes it ... don’t eat it.” That leaves plants and meats. Anything packaged pretty much has to go.
As far as focusing on a physical goal, decide to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Run or walk a 5K or obstacle race. Learn a martial art. Start back playing the sports you played as a child. Get outside and work in your yard or garden until it looks exactly how you want it.
These types of goals are what I call “higher” goals. Why do I call them this? Because if you focus on healthy eating and exercise that you actually enjoy, weight loss happens automatically. On top of that, the weight loss is most likely permanent. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?