How about having a ‘goal feeling’ rather than a goal weight

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So. I have reached goal weight.

But. Hold your applause. The purpose of this post is not to boast or seek your praise.

In fact, you could say it’s the opposite.

I’m going to tell you why, if you’re aiming to get fit and healthy, you should not worry too much about goal weight.

While it is good to have a goal to work towards, I’ve come to learn that the idea of a having a specific goal weight can be counterintuitive. Because while you’re worrying about seeing that number on the scale, there are so many other amazing things happening to your body, mind and emotions, that you may just be missing.

This is not a unique idea, but I finally understand the wisdom of it: Instead of setting a goal weight, we should set a goal feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I was happy to have seen that elusive number on the scale. And even though it was a number I had chosen pretty randomly, being the goal-orientated person I am, it was gratifying to finally have reached what I had set out to do nearly three years ago.

Try and try again

Way back, when I joined a popular weight-loss programme in my early 20s, the team leader had calculated that my ideal weight was 63.25kg. Not 63kg. Nope.

Unfortunately I didn’t reach goal weight that time – or in any of my other attempts to trim down over the years. In fact, I just piled on more and more weight the older I got. The reasons are plentiful – and just about all of them are related to a lack of proper education about nutrition and the negative relationships we develop with food through the messages we get from the people around us, mainstream media, and food industry marketing machines. And over the years, I have climbed on the proverbial wagon numerous times, but each time just fell off harder than before.

So, when in January 2017 I decided to get my butt in gear and lose “some” weight, I figured that as I was nearly 20 years older than I was when I had had a proper assessment of my “ideal weight” done, I’d give myself the leeway of an extra 1.75kg and aim for 65kg.

At the time I was 107.4kg.

This time round I had way more weight to lose, and lots more damage to my health to undo. So you may be wondering what I did differently this time round.

The answer is simpler than you think – although I will be honest: the implementation is damn hard.

Get to know your body

You need to educate yourself – about nutrition, about exercise… about how the two work together – and you have to get to know your body.

Learn to feel and hear its cues again.

And don’t let anyone tell you that losing weight or getting in shape is easy. They’ll tell you all about calories in vs calories out and how you need to be in calorie deficit to lose weight. Maybe I have even done so in this column. And sure, that’s technically correct. But can they explain to you what that actually means in practical terms? Can they explain to you how your body feels when you’re consumed “enough calories”? I bet most of them won’t be able to.

Only you can get to know your body this intimately.

So as you start thinking – inevitably – about your health goals for the new year, maybe add to your list how you would like to feel about your body.

Maybe you want to be strong enough to lift a pocket of potatoes. Maybe you want to feel comfortable in a pair of jeans. Or maybe you’d like to be able to play with your children without feeling out of breath. Make that your start. And if you want to pick a number, go ahead and do it. But remember, that number – whether attained or not – does not define you.

Wishing you a healthy, happy 2020!

Chantel Erfort

I'm a yoga teacher and health advocate who runs and enjoys the outdoors. Having previously lived a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle, nothing makes me happier than being able to share the benefits of including some movement, mindfulness and healthy eating into one's life.