Fat loss is the most boring goal in the entire world. I know, I know, so many of us are overweight, but if setting a goal to lose weight worked then why do we keeping gaining collective weight?
Let’s call it what it is. It’s fat. We’re talking about body fat. Can we agree to stop hating all the fat? Body fat is what many paleontologists believe kept us alive while other upright humans starved to death. Yay to storing fuel!
You should thank your fat right now. It’s trying to save your life.
Kidding aside, there are real dangers associated with body fat, especially when it gets inside our intestines, liver or other organs. That kind of fat works against our safety.
I still maintain that setting your guns to kill-fat is not doing you any favors. After twenty years in fitness, trying to help people change their lives, I’ll let you in on a secret: There is something more important than hating your body fat.
Creating a habit in your life always outclasses your goals. If you can get the habit going, you can course correct your body later. It will be easier to make lifestyle adjustments when you see yourself as an exercising adult.
To do so, set goals that are more interesting. Goals, like these…
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As a strategy-focused goal, this one is my favourite. It’s all about creating a habit. Forget what your gonna do, focus on how frequently you’ll do it.
Commit to six workouts a week (or four or whatever, the more the better). Don’t even worry about the length of these workouts. Five minutes to start is fine. Just, get the wheel spinning.
Put on your trainers, your gear, but do it consistently. Track your efforts, then reward yourself. Reward yourself every single day you hit your goal. Make it something that matters, not just a gold star, unless gold stars really fire you up.
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This is a results-focused goal. It could be a matter of miles you plan to run or an amount you wish to lift. An example might be, I want to squat twice my bodyweight. That’s great.
If you stay laser focused on that goal, you’ll build a whole structure of behaviors around that goal, from how you eat to how you walk. What’s even better is when you talk to people about joining the gym, you can proudly announce your goal.
If it’s a fat loss goal, you’re more likely to keep it to yourself. That means no support from other people because they don’t know what you’re up to.
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This is another strategy goal. In business, they say, “people work on what you measure.” In other words, what you have to report on is what you’ll focus on.
If you know someone will ask you how many times you worked out or how many sets you performed, you’ll work hard to make sure the report is a good one.
You could set this up with a virtual coach, either through an app or on online coaching service. You could hire a trainer or a nutritionist. It could be anyone, but the more professional the person, the better.
If you can report to someone whom you’re paying money, then you can expect more from that person. It does you no good to report to your uncle when he forgets to hunt you down for reporting because he had a game of footy.
Goals centered on reporting will drive consistent behaviours.
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This is all about strategy. It’s the concept of 10,000 hours, where the 10,000-hour mark is when you go professional. Maybe you won’t be a pro, but you will be working like one.
Habits are what you do all the time. What you do all the time is your habit, so the more you do something, the more it engraves in your brain.
You could start with the goal to complete 100 reps every workout for the first month. That will soon seem too easy. Add fifty reps, then fifty more. Keep adding reps to your workout as long as you can complete that workout in the time frame you’ve set aside.
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The sky's the limit, but as you can see from this list I’m a bigger fan of goals that focus on driving your behaviours over your results. Once you start setting strategy goals, you’ll see the value all over the place.
See that you can challenge yourself everywhere in your life. Make rules like, I will park in the farthest parking spot I can find at least once a week. Try, I’ll ride my bike to work once a week or twice or whatever. With goals like these, fitness is fun, worth talking about.
The same friend you told about your goal to squat twice your body-weight will have no scruples asking how’s your progress? Unlike fat loss goals, you’ll suffer no shame reporting out.
Damon Mitchell is a recovering fitness industry fancy-pants, with twenty plus years of experience. He’s been certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. These days he works as a content creator on health and fitness.
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