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Why setting a ‘target weight’ - only sets us up for failure!

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

As a past slimming club member, I’m only too aware of how they work.

Follow this magical plan, eat these special foods and stay away from those sinful ones!

Set yourself a target and each week we will aim to get closer to that target… we will focus on WEIGHT, regardless of what that truly means for your physical or mental health.

Some weeks we feel on top of the world with big losses… Other weeks, we feel angry, frustrated, guilty and ashamed that we ‘only’ lost half a pound… stayed the same or GOD FORBID… gained!!

Sound familiar?

Now, I’m not here to slag off anyone’s choice of ‘diet’ BUT I am willing to point out where I feel these ‘diet clubs’ are letting us down.

Quite often, the die-hard slimming club fanatics will argue…

‘but the diet works!!!’

‘I’ve lost xxx amount of pounds/ stone!’

‘It works for me!!’

And that may well be the case, however just because something seemingly ‘works’ doesn’t mean it’s the best way of doing something…

Let’s not forget in days gone by, adding alcohol to a babies bottle to help them sleep was deemed acceptable!

It might work, but that doesn’t automatically make it ok!

*does not contain alcohol*

Ok, so let’s go back to my original point, setting a weight target.

Usually the first question we get asked, if we join a slimming club, is ‘what is your target weight?’

This means you choosing a number, usually plucked out of thin air, based on a past ‘happy’ weight you may have been (is there ever a happy weight, let’s be fair!), on one that seems ‘acceptable‘ or based on a magic graph that decides what is deemed acceptable FOR YOU…

Can you already see where I’m going with this?

Let’s just sit back and think about this. A completely RANDOM number has been set, and now your aim is to work tirelessly to reach this set number, and to what end?

As I said, I’ve been there myself, I’ve got the certificates to prove it (well, had!) and yep, I reached my GOAL weight… hurrah!!!

Big celebrations were had, lots of pats on the back - what an ACHIEVEMENT!

Sooooo… now what?

We then spend the rest of our lives trying to KEEP WITHIN this amount or we ‘go off track’ again… and the cycle continues…

Quite often, people confuse how they look on the outside with how they feel on the inside.

They believe that if they LOOKED ‘better’ (slimmer) that they would FEEL better. Sometimes this may be the case, temporarily, but again from experience I can tell you that there is NO GOAL WEIGHT that will make you feel happy.

Happiness is NOT found on the scales.

Self esteem is NOT built on a dress size.

Confidence is NOT a result of weight loss.

At one of my ‘slimmest’ moments as an adult… I might be smiling but I was desperately unhappy. I was eating less than 1,000 calories a day and exercising excessively (up to 2 hours per day). I was convinced I needed to get to the next stone bracket down and was frustrated I couldn’t seem to lose that extra few pounds to get there…

There is nothing wrong with wanting to change the way your body looks, everyone is entitled to do what they want with their own body - but I just want to point out that a focus on ‘weight’ alone won’t necessarily yield the results you’re looking for.

Firstly I want to change one ESSENTIAL word in that sentence…

You don’t want to lose weight…

You want to LOSE FAT.

It might not seem like much to you, in fact you may not even think there’s a difference between the words, but understanding what makes up ‘weight loss’ and gain for that matter, will completely change the way you think and feel about diet culture…

And this is the BIGGEST part of everything I aim to do, in my mission to get women to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting - for good!

To create a change in body composition (the way our body looks) we need to lose fat and build muscle - many people use the term ‘tone up’ to describe this…

Oh, and building muscle, will of course mean an increase in overall weight in the body, as muscle mass is getting bigger.

Many women shy away from the thought of lifting weights, still believing the myth that weights will make us look bulky… they think lifting a few dumbbells will turn us into Arnie overnight…

The truth is, it’s physically impossible for a woman to build muscle like a man, we do not have the hormones to supplement it (high levels of testosterone).

In fact, it’s almost impossible for men to get that way - not without specific, progressive weight-lifting over a seriously long amount of time. Often with legal and illegal supplements as well!

Here’s your TRUTH BOMB - weight lifting for women is one of the most EFFECTIVE ways of aiding FAT LOSS and…

… The ONLY WAY you’ll ever change your body’s composition and look ‘toned’.

I started lifting weights in 2019 and as I counted calories along with the workouts, it didn’t take long to see a complete change in the way I looked… losing ‘weight’ was the easy part… building muscle is much harder!

In the past 3 and a half years I have changed my body composition completely and here’s the most important part…

My WEIGHT has very little to do with it.

In fact, my weight has actually gone UP since I started!

Muscle is more dense than fat, meaning you can have more muscle in your body and look ’smaller’ despite weighing more.

Oh and my favourite fact, pound for pound muscle burns more calories than fat (over double) - meaning the more muscle you have in your body, the more you can EAT without gaining fat…. which is why bodybuilders can eat SO MUCH and still look lean!

All about those booty gains baby!

This brings me back to my most crucial point -

WEIGHT is not indicative of progress, or indeed, fat loss.

When we weigh on the scales, even the fancy ones that claim to tell you body composition (heads up, they really can’t), they ARE NOT TELLING YOU THE TRUE STORY.

The scales are not telling you HOW MUCH FAT YOU HAVE LOST or how much water you have lost. They are not telling you if you’ve increased muscle mass or if your hormones are currently encouraging your body to retain water. They also can’t tell you how hard you’ve worked that work to achieve progress or how closely you’ve actually come to achieving that true calorie deficit.

The scales are really, fairly useless when you think about it!

Here is a 6 week progress pic from one of my Fat Loss Programme clients. One of the first things she said to me was that she ‘can’t lose weight’… in fact, she was really disappointed she had ‘only’ lost just over 4 pounds during the programme… just LOOK at her photos - it’s NOT all about the scales!!

Ironically, the very fact that slimming clubs solely focus on scales as an indicator of your progress, absolutely blows my mind!

To lose FAT we have to create a calorie deficit (see - for more information!)

To lose ONE POUND of fat, we have to create a deficit of 3,500 calories!

So, on average if we reduce our calorie balance by 500 daily - either with an increase in activity (burn more calories) or decrease in calories, or a combination of both, then by the end of one week - we will have lost 1 pound of fat.

I love this image and it really does show you that ‘only’ 1lb of fat is in fact, incredible!

Now, that may or may not be reflected on the scales at the end of the week - because our body weighs differently every single hour of the day!

Water makes up 60% of our ‘weight’ and with us consuming and excreting water throughout the day, we will never weigh the same at any given moment!

We are conditioned to believe that small losses are insignificant and NO LOSSES or a GAIN means NO PROGRESS / NO FAT LOSS.. but reading the above, can you see why that is absolutely not the case!

What if we have lost 2lbs of fat that week but are holding on to 2lbs more water because we are bloated?

The scales tells us we have not ‘achieved’ anything (actually, we have) and no doubt your leader wants to ask ‘what could you have done differently?’ - infering you haven’t made progress!!! But you have!!

In fact, it’s no wonder so many of us start and quit so often - because we feel we are not progressing… When truthfully, we are just not progressing as quickly as diet culture leads us to believe it can happen.

Therefore setting ourselves a ‘goal weight’ to achieve, is setting ourselves up for failure - because it DOES NOT indicate a change in body composition necessarily, it DOES NOT mean we have ‘lost fat’ (we may have lost water or muscle mass) and it DOES NOT mean we are going to FEEL better about ourselves.

It also seems so VERY FAR AWAY, particularly if we feel we have ‘a lot to lose’.

Also, it means if we actually reach it - we will only ever feel rubbish about ourselves, inevitably we when, our bodies adjust again and we fall out of that ‘target’ range.

Talk about pressure!!

We burn calories day in, day out - the simple way to lose fat is to balance your energy expenditure with your calories consumed, once you’ve cracked that - you’ll never have to turn to toxic ways of dieting again!

With everyone focusing on the scales, we also lose focus on the MAIN REASON WE WANT TO CHANGE OUR BODIES IN THE FIRST PLACE…

… To feel better about ourselves

Yet, we can feel better about ourselves by doing so many OTHER things in the mean time - in fact, I always say don’t exercise to lose weight…

Exercise to feel good about yourself!

When we feel happy mentally, we have higher levels of self-esteem and confidence and we rock whatever bodies we are wearing, fact.

Do things that make you feel GOOD, that encourage happy hormones in your body, that make you feel sexy, that make you LAUGH.

Stop focusing on your ‘weight’ and instead, focus on progression.

This might look different for everyone… confidence to wear the shorts, reaching a new personal best, going for your first run, keeping up with your kids at soft play!

Focus on FAT LOSS for the health benefits if it’s something you wish to do, and not for how you think it’ll make you feel IF you reach a particular weight. If you’re not sure how to do this, it’s what my Fat Loss Programme is all about!

Enjoy the journey and appreciate every little win. Life will always be up and down, so will your weight, so don’t let it consume your every thought, the numbers on a scale do not define you.

If you’re ready to leave diet culture for good and want to take a different approach to FAT LOSS, without all the rules and moral judgement - take a look at my Fat Loss and Fitness Programme, which starts again soon!

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