I’ve done a lot of soul searching recently, wondering about what I’ve achieved, what hasn’t worked out. One thing that stands out to me is that I’ve really embraced the principle of Smarter goals.
As I’ve matured I’ve simply focused more and more on the principles of smarter goals in a sub-conscious way. Over time it’s become clearer to me that a big reason many of us find it so difficult to achieve the balance in our lives that we crave be it, work life balance, the right body weight or something else, is that there is so much pressure to get this nirvana now.
What are Smarter Goals?
‘Smarter’ goals is actually an acronym which stands for
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Achievable
- R – Realistic
- T – Time Based
- E – Exciting
- R – Recorded
To find out a bit more check out SMARTER Goal Setting – A Key to Making It Great!
So how do smarter goals help?
Lots of reasons really and each person will find a different way to use them. For me I use them a lot to break down huge tasks that seem impossible into smaller ones that I feel I can achieve. The goals can be things like:
- losing 2 stone,
- being fitter than I’ve ever been or,
- getting a much better job.
There is so much I can say on this topic because I’ve been doing this for so long but it’s probably best to just let this come out in separate posts over time. For now I want to talk about the inspiration for this post and that is about how this can be so useful for people trying to gain control of their bodies. Those who aren’t happy with their lifestyle or weight. I can’t promise to fix everything but I do feel so much more in control of things these days than many years ago and I want to share some of what I have learned.
So why is it such a difficult thing to control our own weight?
Well I think the first thing is that it’s really difficult at certain times. Not always but often we have periods where everything becomes too much and we have too much on or we get ill so we can’t handle as much as normal. At these times it’s really difficult to focus on controlling our weight because we have too many other things to deal with.
Secondly it’s not something we’re taught at school. We learn to read write, do maths and how the solar system works but we learn next to nothing about how our bodies work.
There’s plenty of information out there about how we gain weight, what we can do about it and how it fits our lives but we don’t get to learn any of this at school, so we have to learn it outside. We don’t know who to trust and a lot of it conflicts with itself. So it get’s pretty overwhelming.
Finally I feel there’s been a huge change in the last hundred years. Humans have evolved to hunt and gather food. For millenia humans have had to go and find food, prepare it and then eat it. Much of the evidence indicates that we were designed to be active and that we actually need regular movement, activity and challenges in order to function properly and stay healthy.
Well these days, particularly in western cultures we just don’t need to. If we so desired we can even spend entire days without leaving the house, ordering all food in so the hunter gatherer process isn’t needed.
Many of us, including me have spent a long time in this new way of life and you get used to it. We don’t know any other way because we don’t need to though we do realise it’s not the best thing for us but we can’t help ourselves because it’s fun. In this digital age there are so many other things to be doing than walking around supermarkets and actually buying food, so many better things to be doing than going for a walk in the pouring rain and getting soaked.
What did I do?
Turning my own life around wasn’t actually that hard it just took time for me to figure out the way I wanted to live it and what choices were right for me. I’m still learning but enjoying the journey for what it is.
What frustrated me for a long time and what made me feel isolated was that every health guru I spoke to or every set of experts seemed convinced that there is only one way to become healthy and that involved eating around ten tons of fibre and a gallon of water every hour. Not exactly the most exciting thing in my view and deep down I never felt I could stick to this very rigid view of what being healthy is and how it brings about weight loss.
Improved my knowledge
As a quick side note this is part of the reason I went and got a degree and lots of wider education in this field. I like to know how things work and I had this burning desire to understand the body well enough to decide for myself how to make my body and my lifestyle work for me. I’m glad I did because now I have many years of experience behind me that has made me a lot more confident in blazing my own trail. I am now at a point where I can explain the reasons behind what I see and feel which is very comforting.
So to put it simply I often feel the concept of losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle is presented as such a dramatic and extreme process that I can only ‘keep up’ with it for a few months until I’m burned out.
Applied Smarter Goals
So what did I do. To apply smarter goals I had to address the idea of perfection. I had to accept that perfection is not achievable, at least not now because the perfect lifestyle is too big a change. So I said to myself
Let’s break it down into smaller goals that are achievable. Why not just figure out what I eat right now and what exercise I do and then spend say three months trying to be a little better. Not a lot, just a little bit better.
Adopting sustainable change
I chose not to completely change my life, and instead just aim to be a little bit better. The idea was that at least if I do this for three months I have a realistic chance of sticking with these changes for the rest of my life. So any improvements I do make I’ll keep, rather than making all sorts of changes and then just falling back into my own ways.
This inspired me because it felt realistic and achievable because I wasn’t going to completely change my life in a crazily short space of time and forget who I am. Instead I was going to make a few changes over a realistic time frame and hang onto what I achieved.
Long term results
That’s what I’ve been doing for many years now. I’ve tried all sorts of different fads, simply as a learning experience. The point was not to change myself completely but to learn from them the good and the bad so that I know much more now than I did then. I’ve gotten used to having lots of short, simple goals focused on things I want to achieve.
Like finding distractions. One of the biggest barriers to losing weight is the constant temptation to eat and some people are fantastic at not eating but then they aren’t generally the ones who put weight on so that’s great for them.
For me once I start thinking about food it’s just a matter of time before I do eat something. The nature of hunger is unfortunately that once you start eating you can trigger your hunger cravings in just ten or twenty minutes. Then also you’ll starting up a daily cycle of being hungry at that particular point in the day.
So how do you break this cycle?
My answer is to find lots of things I love doing that don’t involve food. If they take place away from food like playing tennis or walking then all the better.
Why does this work?
Well, thinking about food is the start of the problem. So why not get yourself interested and excited about something else. That way food has to compete with something genuinely exciting or at least useful, probably something you need to do. It’s why I pop out for a walk a lot because you could eat and walk at the same time or do whatever it is you’re doing but if I set off for a walk without any food then I can’t snack. I enjoy the scenery or listen to a podcast so my hunger gets pushed to the back of my mind. It may seem obvious but it’s also surprisingly simple if you do something else and fill your mind with that then your hunger will get ignored and eventually subside.
It’s about learning that you have the ability to be strong and find a way not to eat and let yourself get distracted by something else. the more you do it the better you will get at it and the less effort it will feel like. It really is just a matter of time until this becomes a normal part of your day. It was for me.
The most important thing is that you’re enjoying what it is you are doing so the process of distracting yourself from hunger and essentially rewiring your weight gain habits gets easier. Particularly if you put yourself in situations where you are not able to get to food because then there is no option for you but to ignore your hunger.
You generally find that the craving goes away quickly and you forget about it. Forgetting about needing or wanting to lose weight and remembering to spend your time doing the things you love is the best thing I have learned to do these past few years.
Ok so I said I could waffle on on this topic and I certainly have. So I’ll leave it there and no doubt return to it in due course.
Thanks a lot for stopping by. If you like this or if you didn’t please get in touch and let me know what you would like to read so I can make sure to give you what you want.
Have a great day and I hope to see you again some time soon.