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Missing a Couple of Letters By Chance?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This is one of those blogs where I say something that I've been meaning to say for a while. It's a pattern that I see for a while and then it goes away. I hate to blog on it when the pattern is in full force because I don't want to seem like I'm directly attacking anyone. I ask you to remember it as you move forward.

One of the guidelines we all read about wrt weight loss is "1-2 pounds a week is healthy". I believe that it is (though I couldn't imagine such an accelerated pace). I see especially newbies on Spark who are really upset with their weight translate this really unhealthfully.

"OK so if I lose 2 pounds a week every week for 20 weeks, I should be down 40 pounds in 4-5 months".

One of the other guidelines when losing weight is to set S.M.A.R.T goal. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Timely. Again, it's a good concept. It does work when all five variables are there.

One assumption of this concept is the level of control one has over the outcome. If you set a goal to eat an average of one serving of dairy or vegetables a day for the next few weeks, then you have mostly control over that. If you skip a day, you can have two the next day. If you anticipate a weekend away without access, you can have a couple of servings the two days before and still hit goal.

Weight loss is a different animal than action based goals. Even if you do all of the right religious things eating and calorie-wise, you have water retention and plateaus which hits all of us. Even then, we all have realistic basic life scenarios which result in some weeks being less loss than others (nights out with friends, social functions, weddings, stressful days, etc.).

Given both of these, the question has to be asked, "Is the massive mid/long term weight loss goal of 2 pounds a week either truly Attainable or Reasonable?

I would add "desirable?" but that's a blog for a different day.

Is the goal really S.M.A.R.T if it isn't realistic and, by proxy, attainable?

I see new people and even dear friends both on SparkPeople and offline go through this vicious cycle of:
1) "I'm going to lose 2 pounds a week by cutting x000 calories a day and exercising 1-2 hours per week". Followed by.
2) "Yay!! I'm down 3-4 pounds first weigh-in. Followed by
3) "Had a bad day" and "didn't exercise as much this week. Followed by
4) "Only lost 0.5 to 0.8 pounds this week" (goal already out of reach). Followed by
5) "I'm going to be super-strict this week and get back on the wagon"

This is almost invariably followed by 1-2 weeks of almost no blogging (an occasional "I'm starting over" or "getting back on the wagon" blog). Then a deafening silence.

after a few weeks the next blog usually contains....wait for it...

"I'm back"
"Time to get back on the wagon"
"I'm going to lose 2 pounds a week by cutting x000 calories and exercising 1-2 hours per week".

It saddens me because I love my friends/fellow sparkies and I want them to succeed.

In his book "The Spark". This site's dear founder, Chris Downie actually does talk about a friend who, after a prolonged injury and hiatus from the gym, does heroically decide to go back to exercising the full hour a day every day (his old routine)

Chris uses that guy as an example of someone who tried to do too much too fast and failed at his comeback.

with being overweight and wanting to lose weight fast. I definitely know the tyranny of setting the 2 pound a week goal and falling flat on my face and feeling like a failure. Heck, it's why I'm writing this blog.

I love you and want you to succeed. If you haven't done so already, look to the SparkDiet stage 1 for some guidelines on how to succeed long-term though small changes (realistic and attainable goals). They won't knock you down 20 pounds in 10 weeks. But they will give you some good first steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

emoticon emoticon

- TD Out!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • _VALEO_
    Actually, SP is using the SMART goal used in project management, though we incorporate other variables like Risk, Constraints, and so on and so forth...
    SP is the ideal version of a project.

    You could have added Precept 3: Drink 8 glasses of water.
    I don't know from where this number comes. There is absolutely no evidence whatsover in the medical literature.

    In Europe, Precept #1 is "1-2 KILOS a week is healthy." Yep, someone has kept the variables, but just changed the unit! That would give 2.3-4.6 lbs. I usually go with the American precept because it makes me look like better. emoticon
    1697 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/27/2013 5:31:16 AM

    When I did this (weight loss goals, etc.) I'd lose my motivation if things didn't go according to plan.
    Now, there's no more plan: there's a lifestyle that suits me (clean eating - with a little baking thrown in) and activities I enjoy (Zumba + BodyPump) and I've never been more successful!
    1698 days ago
    Awesome Blog, my head is going yeah I know all this, but the little voice inside still wants the miracles.... lol thanks!
    1700 days ago
  • JEN169
    Very well written blog! I enjoyed reading it!
    1701 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    Exactly! We did not wake up one morning and WHAM!!! Fifty pounds overweight. We tend to forget that we may have been at a certain weight for years, then gained, then not, then gained. Why do we set ourselves up for failure by pounding out a "dream" goal of slicing that weight off in a few months or even ONE YEAR????

    If I invest a dollar and hope for fifty per cent interest, DUH! How likely is that? Toss that dollar in the bank, keep it away from my itchy-fingers and pray that somebody at the credit union will toss in one per cent interest quarterly.
    Be realistic, be energetic, but be healthy, first and foremost.

    Thank you for shaking us up,Trent.
    1701 days ago
    AMEN brother!!!
    Ok, thanks for the thump in the forehead too...
    1701 days ago
    Great blog. I find that over time, half a pound a week is reasonable for me, and others kinda look down their noses at that. Oh well!
    1701 days ago
    I know that I have been one of those friends. emoticon
    1701 days ago
    I 'liked' this and admire your writing-
    this should be required reading for all Sparkies-
    newbies and -ahem- oldies.
    Excellent points, well made.
    And so very true!

    1701 days ago
    Hey this is great advice. Plus I really feel your friendly attitude and this makes a Big difference. I ' ve been through all this with variations. But it s s.learning process not a marathon

    1701 days ago
    Great blog - thanks for sharing!
    1701 days ago
    Here's to you, TD emoticon CHINK!

    Both wise and eloquent.

    Excellent points and well made. I have - at long last - come to the same conclusion. We all need to calm down and stop striving for the (near) impossible so that we can reach our goals in a reasonable fashion without causing ourselves grief and in a healthy way that will change our habits long term.

    I have - or rather had - a similar blog gestating in my mind - but you've said it all - and so much better. emoticon emoticon
    1701 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/23/2013 10:35:25 AM
    Thanks for such good reminders and advice.
    1701 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.