Is your weight loss timeline sabotaging your success?

When you’ve set a goal to lose weight, the most natural thing to do next is to focus all your energy on achieving that goal. But did you know that focusing on your weight loss timeline can actually sabotage your success?

 

While it’s important to set SMART goals to lose weight — goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound — a lot of people let the ‘time-bound’ factor trip them up.

 

Setting a goal with a time limit helps stop the procrastination that happens to many people. Often, it’s all to easy to put off what you need to do, when you haven’t set yourself a deadline, because you don’t feel like it, think you’ve got plenty of time, or you let other people’s priorities take precedence over yours.

 

But on the flip side, focusing too much on your weight loss timeline can cause you to inadvertently sabotage your efforts.

 

Why people set a timeline

A lot of people set a weight loss timeline because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. The diet industry has led us to believe that it’s possible to lose large amounts of weight in short amounts of time. Furthermore, they often use the idea of looking good for a particular event (e.g. Summer, Christmas, wedding) as a way to market their products. So it’s easy for people to think that having an occasion to lose weight for is the way to go. However, this belief is a form of self-entitlement — that weight loss should be quick and easy — and will set you up for failure.

 

The other reason people set a timeline to lose weight is because they are worried about being judged by other people. Whether it’s going on a summer holiday with friends, or going to a wedding, most people are afraid that other people will judge them for looking a certain way. So they decide to go on a diet and lose weight, so they can avoid the judgements.

 

This is particularly the case for people who have been trying to lose weight for a while, or even working with a coach to lose weight. Because they believe they should be at a certain point by a certain time, they set a timeline to lose weight as a way to protect themselves from being judged or questioned by their friends, family or colleagues. They believe that if they can lose the weight by the time they see these people, they’ll avoid awkward conversations and judgements.

 

Why a timeline is problematic

 

Despite what the diet industry says, there is no specific formula that dictates how long it will take to lose weight. Everyone is different and has different factors that come into play when it comes to weight loss, all of which will influence how long it will take to lose weight. These include:

 

  • How many diets you’ve done in your life
  • How long you have dieted for
  • How strong your diet mindset is
  • Whether you have been training using a structured weights program, or focusing purely on cardio exercise
  • How high your stress levels are
  • What your sleep habits are like
  • How much alcohol you drink
  • What your eating habits are currently like
  • What other habits influence your life.

 

For example, if you’ve spent the best part of 30 years jumping from one diet to the next, you have most likely compromised your metabolism, which will take some time to reverse. Stress, poor sleep and alcohol are also metabolic blockers. And habits like having a diet mindset, low self-worth, caring what others think or even procrastination will also make it more difficult to lose weight quickly. To fully understand how these habits hold you back from weight loss, be sure to read our blog Struggling to lose weight? The real weight you need to lose to change your body shape.

 

How timeline impacts your results

 

Setting a timeline for your weight loss creates unrealistic expectations. This leads to stress and worrying about where you are not matching up to where you expected to be. When you’re stressed, you make decisions based in your emotions. This often means restricting your food, exercising more, or even mixing and matching different aspects of different programs, hoping for a result. All in all, this leads you to sabotage your efforts and sending you backwards. You maybe 80-90% of the way to achieving your goal, but panicking and looking for a quick-fix or relying on dieting behaviours can actually undo all the work you’ve already done, leaving you in an even worse state.

 

What happens when you focus on your timeline?

 

To achieve real, permanent weight loss, you need to work on changing your habits — the thoughts, mindset and behaviours that have led you to become overweight and unhappy. Unless you change these, all the dieting in the world will never change your situation.

 

However, one of the biggest mistakes people make when they set a weight loss goal is they focus only on their outcome and dismiss the importance of working on their habits. This causes them to engage in behaviours that not only slow their progress, but derail it, and send them backwards.

 

Let’s look at an example to explain what happens when someone focuses on their timeline.

 

Emma’s son has just announced his engagement and plans to get married in 6 months. While Emma is really excited for him, she feels slightly panicked at the thought of what she’s going to wear. She decides to work with a coach to lose weight so she can look great on the day. Emma sets herself a goal to lose 30kg before the wedding. She knows it might be a stretch, but she’s determined to do whatever it takes to lose the weight. She shares this goal with her coach who explains that her goal may be unrealistic as it equates to more than 1kg per week. He explains that scales don’t always tell the whole story and that sometimes significantly changing body shape doesn’t always equate to a large drop on the scales. He puts a plan in place where Emma can focus on training the right way, and eat foods that will nourish her body, so she can change her body shape, improve her metabolism, and build a body that will function correctly and burn fat and help her to look and feel good about herself.

 

Emma is surprised at this approach but is willing to give it a go, especially given that she’s never experienced success on the many diets she’s gone on in her life. After the first month, Emma notices that she feels more energetic, sleeps better and her clothes are beginning to fit better. She’s motivated to keep going and is more determined than ever to reach her goal of losing 30kg. After the second month, Emma has dropped a dress size and is feeling amazing. Her skin is clearer, she doesn’t crave sweet foods like she used to, and she no longer struggles to get up in the morning to get to training. Emma is convinced that she’s found the right weight loss program for her and that she will reach her goal in time for the wedding.

 

However, after the 3rd month, Emma notices that her weight loss has stalled. Her coach tells her that this is a normal part of the process and her body is just adjusting to its new ‘normal’ and if she just keeps going, her results will come. However, Emma begins to panic because she feels that she doesn’t have time to wait for her results to come. She needs them to happen in the next 3 months. Emma feels extremely stressed that her body isn’t changing as much as she’d like it to, especially when she’s noticing that other people who are training with her seem to be losing weight. Emma decides to add in some extra exercise sessions on the side in order to kick-start her weight loss. After 2 weeks, her weight hasn’t changed, so she decides to replace some of her weight loss meals with meal replacement shakes. She doesn’t tell her coach because she doesn’t want to get into trouble. Besides, she’s convinced that the extra exercise, combined with the reduction in calories will make all the difference. After another 2 weeks, Emma is shocked to notice that her weight has actually increased. She can’t understand why, when she’s been so careful with her food. With just 2 months to go, Emma decides to try intermittent fasting as a way to budge her weight. However, after just 5 days, Emma ends up having a massive binge on junk food. She’s so upset with herself for not having the willpower to stick with it, that she comforts herself by drinking an entire bottle of wine that night. The next morning, she weighs herself again, only to find out she’s gained even more weight.

 

In the above example, you can see that when Emma is set on achieving the unrealistic goal of losing 30kg in 6 months, she begins a process that ends up snowballing from one bad decision into another.

 

In the above example, you can see that when Emma is set on achieving the unrealistic goal of losing 30kg in 6 months, she begins a process that ends up snowballing from one bad decision into another.

 

Consequences of focusing on your timeline

 

Timeline leads to a negative snowball effect. Weigh yourself all the time, not focus on habits, increase stress levels, make emotional decisions, compare to other people.

 

Focusing on the scales

 

Emma’s first problem is that she is only focused on the scales. While her coach explained that scales aren’t the only gauge of weight loss success, Emma continued to focus on them. While she noticed some invisible signs of success like sleeping better and having more energy, she didn’t take the time to celebrate them. If she had, she would have been able to see that she was making progress, even if it wasn’t the physical progress she was hoping for. This would have increased the likelihood of sticking to her plan.

 

Not focusing on habits

 

While Emma was busy focusing on losing a certain amount of weight for the wedding, she spent no time at all working on her habits. This meant that all her habits — such as comparing herself to others, engaging in dieting behaviour, and using food or alcohol to comfort her — took over at crucial times of her weight loss journey, which ended in self-sabotage.

 

Increased stress levels

 

Emma’s determination to reach a particular goal increased her stress levels and caused her to panic. Increased stress has been shown to make it more difficult to lose weight, and can even contribute to weight gain. When Emma felt stressed, she began to panic and started to make decisions based on her emotions, rather than calmly talking to her coach about the right solution.

 

Making emotional decisions

 

Making decisions based on our emotions is never a good idea, as we always end up doing silly things that will take us further away from our goals. In this case, Emma decided to fall back on dieting behaviours, even though she knew that diets had never worked for her in the past. This caused increased stress, probably compromised her metabolism, and ended up in weight gain.

 

Comparing with others

 

When Emma became disheartened with her weight loss, she began comparing herself with other people who appeared to lose weight. This increased her stress levels even more, caused more emotional upheaval and led her to look for solutions outside her program. For example, what started out as doing extra exercise, turned into replacing meals with shakes, and then spending part of her days fasting.

 

Mixing and matching different programs that are not compatible

 

Instead of sticking to her coach’s plan and trusting that her ‘plateau’ was part of the normal weight loss process, Emma panicked and tried to create her own program. She did a bit of what her coach was telling her, but also added in different types of diets — e.g. meal replacements and then fasting. Of course, these things didn’t work because they are not compatible with each other. Instead of losing weight, Emma actually gained more which meant she actually went backwards.

 

Not recording data

 

Because Emma was so focused on losing weight on the scales, she lied to her coach about what she was doing. This meant that any data she was recording was wrong, which means that her coach was unable to help her. Recording the wrong data is like going to the doctor for bad headaches, but telling them you have a sore throat. You won’t get the right prescription — or in Emma’s case, the right plan — for your problems.

 

Avoiding accountability

 

Doing her own thing and lying about it to her coach is avoiding accountability. What Emma doesn’t understand is that without accountability, her coach can’t help her. What happens is that she tries to do things on her own, which means she’s guessing what the solution is, rather than asking someone who knows what do to, what the solution is. Lack of accountability is why the majority of people fail at losing weight. In order to be accountable, you need to be honest and tell your coaches what’s really going on.

 

Missing out on the opportunity to change their habits

 

While Emma was so focused on losing weight, she didn’t take the time to work on her habits that had led her to be overweight in the first place. One of these habits was jumping from one diet to another. If she had focused on staying the course and being accountable with her coach, she wouldn’t have ended up doing the diets that don’t work and gaining more weight. Another habit that popped up was comparing herself with others. If Emma worked on overcoming the habit of comparing, she wouldn’t have been worried by other people’s progress, because she would have understood that everyone is at different stages of their weight loss journey and she will get there in the end, if she sticks with it.

 

Let go of the result in order to succeed

 

Of course, having a goal is important, because without one, you won’t know what you’re aiming for and you won’t know where you’re going. But as Emma found, focusing only on her goal and her weight loss timeline meant that she wasn’t focusing on the things that would give her the biggest body shape changes — her habits.

 

The reality is, everyone is different. There is no magic formula or specific amount of time it will take for you to lose weight and keep it off. When you learn to let go of the weight loss timeline you’re able to spend time focusing on the daily actions that will help you reach your goals. This will mean you’re less likely to become overwhelmed, stressed and panicked about your results.

 

By focusing on the journey to lose weight, you’re also freeing yourself up to learn the valuable lessons you need to learn along the way, in order for your weight loss to be permanent. Plus, you actually find fulfilment and enjoyment along the way, instead of gritting your teeth and waiting to be happy when you reach your goals.

 

However, we know that the diet industry encourages you to focus on losing a set amount of weight in a set amount of time, and often promotes unrealistic weight loss. If you have a strong history of dieting, this can be difficult to overcome. But that’s where we can help.

 

Through our Diet Antidote Transformation System (DATS™️) — the Not-diet diet for people who are sick of diets and want more than a good body — we can help you focus on changing the habits and mindset instead of focusing on your end goal.

 

Our program will give you specific, personalised action steps that will help you change the things that influence your weight the most — your habits. This will enable you to consistently lose weight without getting stuck, going backwards or panicking about your results.

 

DATSTM will give you the knowledge, systems, tools and skills to help you deal with any situation, so you can finally ditch the diets and lose weight, without going around in circles.

 

If you’re ready to get started, we’re ready to help.

 

Right now, our Program is open, both face-to-face or online. If you’re ready to join us, find out how it works and then, click the link below to see if you qualify.

 

Personalised Coaching

 

Our online and face-to-face Diet Antidote Transformation System is for those people who are ready to change. However, if you’re not ready to commit to our DATS program, get a head start with our entry-level myPersonalised eCoaching program, our state-of-the-art 6-week program designed to help you bridge the gap between diets, exercise and long-term results. Customised for you to reach your personal goals, build healthy habits around mindset, discipline, nutrition and exercise that stick, and transform your life. You get 12-months’ worth of content compressed into 6 weeks, complete with worksheets, personalised action steps and resources. You also have lifetime access so you can learn at your own pace, and revisit any lessons you need to.

 

myPesonalised eCoaching

 

Experience the Diet Antidote Transformation System (DATS™) for yourself.

DATS™ will give you the knowledge, systems, tools and skills so you can ditch the diets and lose weight forever, and reclaim your health, vitality, confidence, freedom and quality of life.

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