If you’re like most people, you probably want to lose weight because in your mind that will make it easier for you to live the kind of life you want to live.
What this means in concrete terms will be different for everyone. It may involve solving or preventing medical problems; living to see children and grandchildren grow up; having the ability to do activities that you enjoy (or need to do); or looking in a mirror or going out in public without feeling like some kind of escapee from a circus side show act.
But whatever your real goals might be, losing weight is just one thing that will help you achieve those goals. It is not the ultimate goal itself, and that's important to keep in mind while working on your weight loss. Maintaining your motivation for a long-term project like weight loss means clearly picturing the real reasons for all of your hard work. If you make the mistake of getting the means confused with the ends, at least two major problems can develop:
- You may develop weight loss tunnel vision. You’ll be so focused on the scale and your weekly weight loss drama that the inevitable ups and downs you experience will make you miserable, stressing you out so much that you become your own worst enemy. Emotional eating, here you come.
- You’ll make the first-then mistake. This involves the incorrect belief that you need to lose the weight first, before you can do anything else about reaching your actual goals. This is a tragic mistake. You may arrive at your weight loss goal, only to realize that being lighter doesn’t magically solve other problems in your life. Many people go back to their old ways at this point, regaining the lost weight. If you expect everything to be different when the weight is gone, but don't work on making other necessary changes, you'll put too much pressure on your weigh-ins. You’ll tell yourself that not dropping pounds means you are still that much further from having the life you want, but that’s just not true.
Writing Your Weight Loss Vision Statement
A comprehensive and wide-ranging Vision Statement sets the stage for everything that follows in your weight loss efforts. This Vision Statement can (and should) provide both inspiration and direction.
Your Vision Statement should tell you why you want to lose weight or get fit, and why the hard work and effort to accomplish your goal is worth it. Your answers to these "why" questions can include some "general" elements (feeling good about yourself, being around for your grandkids, being a good role model, having the career or relationship you really want, etc), but as much as possible, the big picture you paint here should have specific details. You can generate this detail by asking yourself questions like:
- What do I want my life to look like in (1, 5 or 10) years? Explain what you want to be doing, the roles you want to take on, how you want to see yourself, etc.
- What would my ideal days look like? Explain why you'd look forward to getting up in the morning, the first thing you'd do every day, who you'd spend time with, the good experiences you want to have each day, how you'd face challenges in your daily life, etc.
- What personal values (love, human connection, security, independence, comfort, variety, interest, excitement, contribution to society, family, career success, etc.) do I want my daily life to express and reflect? Include how you'd rank these values if you had to choose between them at any given moment.
Your Vision Statement should tell you what else (besides your weight) needs to change within yourself and your life to help you get from where you are now to where you want to be. For example, you could take the list of ranked values you created above and compare that to the values that appear to be guiding your life right now; you could compare your ideal day to your typical day now.
It is crucial NOT to get down on yourself over the way things are now. Make sure you are focusing on what you CAN do to change your life as you see fit. If you aren't ready to give up the self-blame, skip this part of your Vision Statement for now.
Your Vision Statement should be in writing. It’s also a good idea to include pictures or other objects that will remind you of your goals and vision on tough days. Use your Vision Statement regularly to remind yourself why you are committed to your weight loss plans, especially on those hard days.