setting weight loss goals

20 Pounds in 2017

It's that time of the year that most of us at least start thinking about goals for next year. I try to be realistic and not set unachievable goals like starting for the OKC THUNDER at point guard. Still, I usually struggle with staying connected to my goals.

If you are like me and are thinking about dropping about 20 pounds in the year 2017 (did not make it in 2016), one of the first questions to ask yourself is not what diet or exercise plan, but why. Why do you really want to lose weight? What is your true motivation?

The sad truth is that for most of us, losing weight because we know it will be good for us and improve our health simply isn’t enough for when times get tough and we are in the messy middle. The messy middle is when you have been at it for a little while but the finish line is still weeks if not months away. There is always a messy middle.

I have found that a major event in one's life is great motivation for about 6 months. Most of my patients who have had a heart attack or stroke are really motivated for rehab for about 6 months. Then the messy middle shows up. The pain and loss suffered becomes a fading memory and many revert back to the same lifestyle and habits that got them to the event in the first place. Their motivation wanes. Only about 1 in 7 will stay with it and change their lifestyles long-term.

I am the same way. I know that dropping 20 pounds will lower my cholesterol and improve my blood pressure. I know that I will feel better and have more energy. I know it all intellectually, but here I am again trying to lose those same 20 pounds from 2016. So what can I do to be that one in seven that sticks with it? Where can I find my motivation in the messy middle?

I think there is a lot that goes into reaching your goals. But, I believe the most important question is to ask why. Why do I really want to lose the weight? Yes, I know in my mind that it is good for me, but I have proven that simply knowing so doesn’t tend to motivate me enough in the messy middle.

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I need something more tangible and more rewarding than simply knowing that it is really good for me, but that is the simple truth. I am a simple person. I need simple answers to the whys.

My plan is to set up some rewards along the way. I have not yet decided what they will be, but I know they will be simple. If I lose 5 pounds I will (fill in the blank). I am also going to set a timeline. I think a goal without a timeline is simply a dream; however, that is another topic.

I would love to hear from you if you have some good ideas for my simple solution for the messy middle. Also let me know if there is a certain health or wellness topic you would like to learn more about.

Big Hairy Audacious Goals

Do you have a BHAG? BHAGs are Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They are something that will stretch you, challenge you, and make you get out of your comfort zone. I think they are essential for leading an amazing life!

I was in Chicago the first time I heard the term BHAG. I was listening to Bill Hybels speak at a Christian leadership conference. I’m not sure if he made up the word or if someone else did, but the word and the idea resonated with me some twenty years ago.

I try to set BHAGs for the four main areas of my life: spiritual, family, physical, and work. I think the best time to set them is usually at the first of the year or if you are going through a transition in life. I do like to review my goals every so often to see how I am progressing. I may not always reach my goals, but I usually fall forward trying!

I think having BHAGs are critical for living an amazing life. Having BIG HAIRY ADACIOUS GOALS will keep you focused and energized. I see so many people that are depressed or stressed out to the max; almost all of them do not have any direction or goals in their lives.

Having BHAGs will keep you focused outwardly (providing you set healthy goals) instead of inwardly all the time. They usually will give you a framework for making decisions. It helps you learn to say no to some opportunities that might be good but maybe not best for you. They usually make you learn a new skill or experience something in a different way.

One of my favorite memories of a BHAG was running my first marathon. I was never much of a runner and the thought of running 26.2 miles was overwhelming. With the help of some friends and encouragement from my family, I survived. I can still recall the feeling of crossing the finish line for the first time. I felt as if I could do anything that I set my mind to accomplish. I made new friends, learned a lot about myself in the process, and I am still running today.

Some BHAGs are easy to think of, while others are not so simple. I usually struggle with my spiritual ones. I think these are the hardest for me because I like to be in control. In all honesty, I don’t have a spiritual BHAG at the moment. I think spiritual BHAGs should be something big, something challenging, and something that I cannot do on my own. They should be so big, that the only way they can be accomplished is if God shows up!

So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, consider your BHAGs. (Oh, by the way, you are never too old to have BHAGs!) Do you have something in your life that is challenging you? Are you out of your comfort zone (a little anxiety can be a good thing)? Do you have something in your life that is pushing you to become better? What are your BHAGs?