Your Goal is Keeping You From Your Dream Body. Here’s How to Fix It

I’ve lost over 500 pounds in the last 20 years. I’ve never been more than 50 pounds overweight, but I’ve lost and regained that 50 pounds over and over again. I finally lost the weight permanently when I stopped setting weight loss goals.

My weight loss goals were a constant reminder that I wasn’t “good enough” yet. Removing the goals gave me freedom to be happy while I was still overweight. I started enjoying life, even though I still had a muffin top and was several sizes bigger than I wanted to be.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” — Carl Rogers

I took my eyes off the prize (my weight loss goal) and focused on tiny habit changes instead. The changes were so small they didn’t require willpower.

I was worried that removing my goal would make me lazy about getting fit and thin, but the opposite was true. Instead, I found freedom to start acting fit while I was still chubby and out of shape.

Every time I acted like a fit person by completing a short workout or eating less, I felt a rush far better than the one that came from overeating. I began to look forward to my workouts the way I used to look forward to my favorite desserts.

Change your actions to change your identity

Many people believe they need to change their mind so they can change their actions. But the reverse is true. Change your actions, and your mind and identity will follow.

You can prove this right now. Smile your biggest, most genuine smile for several seconds. Did you notice your mood boost? You didn’t have to psych yourself up to smile or tell yourself you’re happy. Your mouth sent a “you’re happy” message to your brain. Your brain believed you and sent happy signals through your body.

The same is true for getting your dream body. Act like a thin, fit person, and your brain will send “You’re in great shape!” signals to your body.

How many times have you said, “I can’t lose weight.” “I can’t say no to my favorite foods.” “I’m a food addict.” Every time you make those statements, your brain hears you and you adopt the identity of an overweight person.

Start saying, “I’m fit and thin!” instead!

You are you because of the story you’re telling yourself. You’ll become who you want to be by telling yourself a new story.

3 steps to a new you

1. Create a vision

Visions are bigger than goals.

Visions are who you want to BE, not just what you want to accomplish. You take on a new identity the moment you begin to act like the person in your vision.

A strong vision gets your emotions involved and makes you more likely to succeed.

2. Act like the person in your vision

Change your actions first.

New actions allow you to immediately experience the joy of being the person in your vision. Even before you see results. Each time you perform the action, you are that person.

Don’t focus on the end goal. Focus on the daily joy that comes from your routine.

Choose key actions

Write down 2 or 3 main behaviors that will transform you into the person in your vision.

Keep this step simple.

Examples:

Exercise regularly

Eat less food

Now break those behaviors down into the smallest possible daily action.

Examples:

Exercise regularly: Do 5 push ups or jumping jacks as soon as I get out of bed in the morning (or every time I go to the bathroom.) Don’t underestimate the power of this tiny habit. This is how I started and I now crave my daily hour long workout habit.

Eat less food: Throw away the first bite of food at the beginning of each meal. Studies have shown this small action can have a profound effect on weight loss.

These changes are easy so you won’t resist them. But they will snowball into huge habit changes.

Remember this: Complicated plans lead to failure. Simple plans lead to success.

3. Reward your brain

Congratulate yourself for every tiny success.

This is so important!

Don’t wait for a number on the scale to tell yourself “Good job!” Tell yourself you’re a badass every time you do your new tiny habit. When you congratulate yourself, your brain feels rewarded and wants to repeat the behavior.

You rewire your brain for success by congratulating yourself for your actions. The best reward is a simple reward. Tell yourself “Good job!” and smile immediately after you do the new action. (Look in the mirror while you congratulate yourself for even more benefits.)

Behavior change is simple, but it can be uncomfortable or even downright painful. Learn to recognize this discomfort as a sign of growth. Embrace and even welcome this feeling. Get comfortable with discomfort.

Create your own action plan

I invite you to take action on what you’ve read. Right now. Don’t just read this article and walk away.

Try this 2 step activity now.

  1. Create a journal entry dated 10 years from today. Write in detail what your ideal life will look like in 10 years. Write as if you are really there. Include the sights, sounds, and smells around you. No detail is too small. Have fun and dream big.Your journal entry should answer this question, “How will my life look in ten years if I accomplish everything I want with no chance of failure?”
  2. Identify 2 or 3 behaviors that led you to the future self in your journal entry. Break those actions into the smallest possible daily actions. Then decide where in your daily routine you will place those actions.