5 Motivating Goals That Result in Weight Loss (without Trying)

By , Molly Galbraith
It’s no secret that the majority of people who start a new exercise program do so because they want to lose weight, which is a great reason (and motivator) to get fit.
That being said, if your only motivation to exercise is fat loss, you can easily find yourself frustrated and wanting to quit when progress temporarily hits a plateau (which it will).  That’s why setting goals beyond weight loss alone is essential if you're going to stick with a fitness or weight-loss program for the long haul. 

And consider this: Setting goals that don't focus on fat loss can actually help you reach your desired weight-loss goal. It's true! (Check out this SparkPeople success story of a woman who lost weight by resolving NOT to lose weight!)  For example, if you focus on getting stronger, you will likely gain lean muscle mass, which will speed up your metabolism and help you lose more weight.  Or maybe you choose to set a goal like walking with a friend several days a week, or taking your dog hiking every weekend. Those goals will keep you active and moving (which is the whole point) and don't hinge on what a scale says to keep you motivated. Over time, you'll be more consistent with exercise, burn even more calories and, of course, lose more unwanted fat. 

See?  You don’t have to be laser-focused on the scale to be successful in changing the scale.  Setting other goals can be even more motivating—and just as effective!
Here are five of my favorite types of goals that often lead to weight loss and better health (without focusing on the scale). 
 
1. Performance Goals
Examples: Improve your 5K time, perform your first unassisted pull-up, dead lift your body weight, complete a sprint triathlon, do 10 push-ups on your toes, etc.
 
Performance goals are one of my favorite ways to stay motivated all year.  Not only are these positive goals (look what I can do!), as opposed to a negative goal (I can't eat chocolate!), but everyone has a performance goal that they can set and accomplish—no matter what they weigh. It doesn’t matter what your goal is. You're setting something that inspires you, finding a plan to keep you on track, and staying dedicated for the long haul.
 
The best part?  Once you’ve reached your goal, it’s easy to set another, slightly more ambitious goal.  With weight loss, once you’ve hit your goal, you’re stuck—that's the end game.  You cannot keep losing weight or continue getting leaner, so it can be hard to stick with the habits that got you there. But with performance goals, you can set them, and reach them, and set them again—for as long as your heart desires.
 
2. Real-Life Goals
Examples: Hoist your 70-pound chocolate lab into your car, change the 5-gallon water jug at work, carry two 40-pound bags of cat litter up three flights of stairs, no longer using a seatbelt extender, move furniture without assistance, play with your kids or grandkids at the park without getting tired or winded, fit into a single airplane seat more comfortably, etc.
 
These are some of my favorite stories to hear from clients as they notice the progress they’ve made since they started working out. Yes, they are stronger and can lift more weight and are fitter or leaner—but what seems to matter most to a lot of people is how that improved fitness translates into making their real lives better. Reaching milestones that make your life easier or more fun can be surprising and empowering, whether the scale is moving or not. Feeling independent and knowing that you are capable of taking care of yourself is incredible, and is a very powerful motivator. 

3. Health Goals
Examples: Reduce your blood pressure, improve your fasting glucose levels, decrease your dosage or usage of certain medications, improve your cholesterol levels, etc. 
 
The awesome thing about setting goals for quantitative health markers is just that: They’re quantitative. They are easy to measure, and it’s very clear when you have made improvements to your numbers. If you’re someone who likes data and feels motivated by numbers, setting health marker goals might be perfect for you. The important thing is to set health goals that are clear and measurable by tests or data, not vague (like decreasing your risk of heart disease, which can't always be measured quantitatively).
 
Make sure you talk with your health care provider to figure out what reasonable improvements in these markers looks like, and never change or discontinue a medication without consulting your doctor first.
 
4. Movement Goals
Examples: Ride your bike to work two days a week, walk during your lunch break four times per week for 30 minutes each time, practice yoga for 10 minutes every morning, get up from your desk to walk around the office once every two hours, etc.
 
As my good friend Neghar Fonooni says, ''Movement is a privilege.  Do it every day, as often as you can.'' She is exactly right! Movement is a privilege, and we should all strive to move our bodies in positive ways more often.  Your workouts don’t have to be crazy and intense every single day.  There is value in simply moving your body on a regular basis.  It’s simple and restorative, and it actually allows you to recharge so that when you do want to work out hard, you have some energy left in the tank.
 
Pick something simple and sustainable, and commit to doing it on a regular basis.  Make it an appointment in your calendar, or create a chart where you can check it off once you have completed it.  This will be sure to keep you moving, even if you don’t feel like it. And all that movement will become a virtuous cycle that makes you want to do even more!
 
5.Feel-Good Goals
Examples: Go to bed at a consistent time every night, cultivate a more positive attitude throughout the day, decrease your cravings for junk food, practice more gratitude, have more energy, reduce stress, etc.   
 
When working with a new client, once of the first things I ask them is, ''What are your goals?''  More often than not, their answer boils down to wanting to look good and feel good.  While many people find themselves focusing much harder on the ''look good'' part of that equation, the ''feel good'' part is vitally important as well.  Heck, it has a huge impact on your quality of life!
 
I recommend picking three areas where you might see improvement in how you feel.  Maybe you’re exhausted when you wake up in the morning, or you get restless in the evenings when you’re trying to unwind.  Maybe you get a lot of anxiety thinking about your workload, or you get crazy sugar cravings every afternoon.  Pick a couple of areas of your life that seem out of whack, and rank how much they negatively affect you on a scale of 1-10 (1 being mild, and 10 being severe).  Every 2-4 weeks, take a moment to reevaluate these areas and note where you see improvements. These are amazing non-scale victories that can keep you motivated to stick with your program—but you have to take the time to notice them.
 
Remember, wanting to look better or lose body fat is perfectly fine, but if you’re constantly focused on that goal at the expense of all the other improvements and milestones you're experiencing, you might find yourself frustrated and feeling down on yourself when you hit a plateau.  Make sure you mix it up by choosing a different goal every 6-8 weeks to keep yourself motivated and to ensure continued success. 
 
Do you think it helps to set goals beyond weight loss? What kinds of goals keep you motivated to stick to your program?

About the Author
Molly Galbraith is a strength coach and co-owner of J&M Strength and Conditioning, a rapidly expanding, private gym in Lexington, Kentucky, for professional athletes and the general public alike. She is also co-founder of the wildly popular Girls Gone Strong group, a movement dedicated to changing the way women train. Her mission is to, ''Help women give themselves grace and compassion when it comes to their bodies, and to help them discover and accept what their best body looks like, with minimal time and effort.'' She has also been an expert contributor to magazines like Oxygen andExperience Life. No stranger to the gym herself, she has competed in both figure and powerlifting and her best lifts include a 275-lb. squat, a 165-lb. bench press, and a 341-lb. deadlift. You can find out more about Molly by visiting her website, and you can keep up with her latest adventures on Facebook and Twitter


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Comments

BONDMANUS2002 10/14/2018
Good info Report
JOHNMARTINMILES 8/10/2018
Excellent article! The human machine must be kept in tune. By keeping most of the elements in balance, they others follow! Report
PLATINUM755 7/30/2018
Excelent share...Thx! Report
VIVMARIA 7/29/2018
Neghar Fonooni says, ''Movement is a privilege. Do it every day, as often as you can.'' - so totally! Thanks, I started following her on Twitter and Instagram!!! Report
DIANNEMT 4/28/2018
I have been gaining--while tracking and exercising. I don't know quite WHAT to do--so maybe I can focus on one of these and get my weight back under control. Just feeling bummed and not good at all. Report
MARATIKS 4/25/2018
Thank you for this. I've never been able to get motivated for long. I have read lots of articles about importance of motivation but only you give a great tool to actually do it right. I have list of motivators now and I started to put them into a presentation I can play myself every time I need it. You know, "one picture is a thousand words". Thanks again. Report
MARATIKS 4/25/2018
Thank you for this. I've never been able to get motivated for long. I have read lots of articles about importance of motivation but only you give a great tool to actually do it right. I have list of motivators now and I started to put them into a presentation I can play myself every time I need it. You know, "one picture is a thousand words". Thanks again. Report
J_HENNINGTON 4/18/2018
Thank you..revamping your goals from time to time is a good thing Report
PATRICIA-CR 4/16/2018
They certainly are great goals to thrive with. Report
PAMBROWN62 4/15/2018
My awesome improvement in my health numbers is what keeping me going, even when my journey (weight loss) stalls. Knowing that this journey to a healthy lifestyle has reaped such great benefit in my health let’s me know that I will be doing this for the rest of my life not just to lose a specific amount of weight, NSV’s are as important, if not more , than any number on the scale. Report
CATHYSFITLIFE 4/15/2018
Great article and reminder that this is more about weight loss. Thanks for the reminder that there are many things we can do that's not necessarily weight focused but can lead to shedding the weight! Report
KWEENIE1971 4/15/2018
Great advice! Thanks! Report
READY201811 4/15/2018
I liked his - not just the scale or size of clothes! Report
MORAVIANSTAR 4/15/2018
Several "hints" in this article I plan to incorporate - making a plan to move more throughout the day, for instance (along with positive thinking and ditching that afternoon snack - which all too often becomes a graze - my perennial problem!). Very helpful and inspiring. Report
JANIEWWJD 4/15/2018
Fantastic article!!! Report
ALEXTHEHUN 3/11/2018
Great reminder that it's the whole package, not just weighing in. Report
CAROLYNINJOY1 3/7/2018
This is a great article. I've been focusing on measurable behaviors and it is working for me. Thank you. Report
INSIGHT62 3/7/2018
This is one of my favorite articles. I saved it to my favorites so I can refer to it often. Non-scale goals make so much more sense than the scale. Report
CHRISINMIAMI 3/7/2018
Thank you! I especially like the” feel good” goals. Report
RO2BENT 3/7/2018
NSV Report
VICKICHICKI123 3/7/2018
That's how you do it. Slow and steady wins the race. Forget the fad "get rich quick schemes". Stick to basics for a lifetime change. Report
JOHNMARTINMILES 1/31/2018
Great points! Sort of like "Take care of your pennies and you dollars will take care of themselves" Report
NASFKAB 12/16/2017
Avoiding fast food as its full of extra unhealthy fat & salt so will be healthier Report
IRONADONIS 11/24/2017
Thanks. Report
DEE107 11/8/2017
thanks for sharing Report
ITSAPROCESS 10/27/2017
Good info. When the scale doesn't move, it's good to have focus on other parts of the journey. Report
I am avoiding sugar to decrease inflamation. Report
This was an inspiring article and I have chosen a new performance goal with increasing push ups which have always been hard for me. Report
ROCKS8ROX
Enjoyed the article! Thank you! Report
Reminder to set those small goals, not just the end one! Report
Good goals. Report
NASFKAB
if you make your goal to have a healthy lifestyle its great Report
I love you more than yesterday, less than tomorrow.
- Edmond Rostand Report
My current two goals are to deal with my insomnia, and to ease the pain from arthritis. Time on the treadmill is part of my strategy. Report
I think it's a very good idea to have goals other than weight loss. Some people are learning a new language or picking up a new hobby. There are a lot of options available Report
Thank you! Report
NIKKI6416
My main goal when I started was to improve my general health and exercise at least 10 minutes per day. As I walked and moved more, my leg hurt less and became stronger (I would "baby" it before when it hurt). My new goal is 20 minutes per day. I have managed to lose enough to fit into a smaller size clothes. Report
Good ideas... Report
Interesting! Report
Great! Report
Great goals. Thank you. Report
Great article! This definitely helped me set goals that are doable. Report
DENNYJO25
Very helpful information. Report
Great motivating goals! Report
Thanks for the ideas! Report
Great article! Report
I think setting goals outside of the scale is very important. It gives you something to strive for when the scale isnt moving which helps you to stay on track. Also have to make sure you give yourself non-food rewards for reaching your small goals too. Report
Great article! I love the motivating goals! Report
Great goals we can all do Report
Goals are so important. You can do anything you put your mind to! Report