I think one of the greatest challenges with losing weight is staying on target. It doesn’t matter how much you have to lose, there will be a point in time where it feels like nothing is happening. I’ve learned that my body has to adjust to the weight changes which impacts how fast or how slowly the weight comes off. Sure, it’s frustrating when it takes three weeks to lose a whole pound. But, that’s better than nothing — and it’s certainly better than gaining! It took a long time to gain the weight and it’s going to take a long time to lose it.

Honestly, I really don’t care how long it takes for the weight to come off as long as I’m trending in the right direction. I’m in one of the slower weight loss periods now. In May, I had solid losses every week — I lost 8.2 pounds in five weeks. Over the next four weeks, I lost  2.8. There’s no way that this week I’ll lose 5.4 pounds to equal the same amount of weight lost in the previous 5 week period. And, that’s OK. I have a funny feeling if I plotted my weight loss on a graph, I’d see a pattern emerge. I suspect that about every 4-6 weeks, my body resets, resulting in smaller weekly losses, and gets ready for several more weeks of larger losses. My eating is pretty solid. Sure, it varies and some days are better than others, but on average, it’s consistent.

I was looking through some of the old weeklies from my Weight Watchers meetings and I found one that focused on setting goals. It gives seven smart ways to choose the perfect ones for you. I think they are really helpful and I was so glad I saved them and took the time to look at them this afternoon. Here’s my take on the a few that stood out to me, and one of my own.

  1. Define Success on Your Terms — It doesn’t have to be a specific number on the scale or even losing a certain amount of weight each week. Success can be staying focused on your target.  The best part is you can change what success means to you each week, if that helps keep you focused. Most of the time, I do define my success at the scale, but a lot of the time I measure it with making good choices in challenging situations or by measuring inches lost, for example. Define success by what helps keep you on target on a daily basis. Take baby steps.
  2. Think Small — Speaking of baby steps, while you might have an idea of the total number of pounds you want to lose, don’t look only at the end goal. There’s a reason Weight Watchers celebrates every five pounds — we need the reward and celebration at each little step along the way. I set out to lose 150 pounds! In the beginning, I just wanted to lose 5, then 10. Twenty-five and 30 were a big deal. Then, 40 mattered because I’d never lost more than 30-ish pounds before. Then it was 50. You get the point. They ALL matter. They are all important steps toward the ultimate target weight loss. People often talk about how weight loss is not a sprint it is a marathon — in my case, I think it’s a couple marathons strung together — you have to learn, you have to train and re-condition your body for a new lifestyle. My favorite fable is The Tortoise and the Hare — I’m the tortoise — slow and steady wins the race. I just keep plodding along. All those fractions of a pound add up — really they do! I’ve lost 84.6 pounds! It ALL ADDS UP! Don’t ever say “I ONLY lost .4.” You MUST say, “I lost .4.” Every little bit counts!
  3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others — For as long as I can remember I have been scanning every room I walk into to see if I am the heaviest person there. There is nothing good that comes from this terrible habit. Another terrible habit is comparing your weekly weight loss to someone else’s. Just because you may have lost .8 and your friend lost 1.2 (and you’ve been on the same weight loss program for the same amount of time) does not mean you are failing. We are all different and our bodies all work differently. We carry our weight differently, we lose weight at different paces. Use your own past, present and future to judge your successes. Be honest with yourself, but be kind too. This is not an easy journey. It takes time.

Learn to Accept a Compliment — While this isn’t a method for staying focused on a target, I believe this is critical to not only your long-term success in reaching that goal, but your happiness and self confidence. I have a terrible time saying “thank you” when someone tells me I look great. When they ask how much I’ve lost, I sometimes hesitate to tell them. It’s a huge conflict in my head. I should be signing from the rooftops — and often times I do. However, part of me is still embarrassed that I gained it all in the first place and shouldn’t have had so much to lose. UGH! Crazy right? What matters is that I’m losing it. I’m not giving up. I’m plodding along, sometimes at a snail’s pace (which is slower than my friend the tortoise). But, I’m sticking to my goal. Success on my terms is losing the weight no matter how long it takes.

How do you define success? Does it change over time during your weight loss journey?