I remember many years ago being told by a fellow Fitness Professional that the most common goals I would hear when speaking to prospective clients would be for them to, “Get fit, lose weight, tone up.” He told me, correctly as it turns out, that those six words would haunt me over and over again.
He was right! One of my major frustrations as a coach and trainer is how the first and third of those goals are so bland and non-specific to be almost meaningless, and the middle one is simply too specific!
Now before you all try and jump all over me, and no doubt someone will, I am ALWAYS advocating specificity of your goals. But there is a difference in being specific and being unrealistic and focussing on the wrong things.
We’ll ignore the get fit and tone up goals for today, but suffice to say before you say that to a Fitness Professional you should consider extensions of those: Get fit for WHAT? Tone up compared to WHAT? As soon as you exercise if you haven’t exercised for some time, you are going to get fitter. At what point do you reach your goal? As soon as you start exercising and doing some resistance work, and hopefully get some good nutrition going you are going to become leaner, and by definition you are ‘toning’ up. Is that where you stop? Of course not, you’d want to keep going
So why is wanting to lose 5 kilograms such a bad goal? For some people, losing 5 kilograms of body fat would be the perfect amount to lose, would see all of your body’s organs and systems working in harmony and you’d be flying. Happy days!
But what is it about the number 5 that is so important? I have people come to me and say they would like to be 5 kgs lighter, when clearly another 20 would be life changing for them. Why do we limit ourselves to just 5? Would 6kgs or 9 be better? Or are you thinking about the wrong things?
There are a number of factors behind it I believe.
- People are applying past performance to future goals. They’ve been able to lose 5kgs before, and that is what they think they can achieve again. But one must ask the question, why do they have to lose 5kgs again, or in the first place?
- A small goal is something that isn’t too scary, even if they have no idea of whether they should lose more fat, or gain muscle, or being the same weight but being leaner would be more beneficial for them. 5kgs is achievable within a month if you get everything right. Will you commit to even one month of putting the right plans in place? If you’re focussed and are ready to make it happen you will. If you deep down don’t believe that you can do it, then you can train for a year and still not achieve that goal.
- Their friends lost 5 kgs and they don’t want to be left behind. Seriously, that may be why people want to lose that number! Why does what someone else achieves make any difference to your health?
So what am I on about this time?
It is almost impossible for the average punter to measure 5kgs of fat loss. You’ll gain some muscle, you’ll lose some fat, but what happens on the days when you jump on the scales after a great workout and you’ve gained? How much does that play with your mind? Makes you feel like giving up and that none of it is worth it. Go on, tell me that has never happened to you.
Our focus, your focus, my focus should be on health outcomes. Reducing body fat is a major part of improving your health outcomes, however thinking about a specific number of kilograms to lose, unless you are an elite athlete and know exactly what you need to weigh to compete, is just counterproductive to achieving some even better goals.
Throw out the idea of 5kgs, for you own sense of self-worth, your overall health and if nothing else, for MY sake!
Set some great goals, goals that will mean so much more to you than just focussing on your numerical relationship with gravity. So instead of focussing on losing 5 kilograms, focus on the goal that would be achievable if you achieved a leaner, healthier body.
So enough with the limiting self-belief that 5kgs will make your life complete, and get about creating some amazing goals. You can dream better than that. You deserve it. But only you can make it happen.