Why Losing Weight is a Terrible End Goal: Keep Failing?

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Earlier in January, I made an outrageous claim on a WhatsApp status. It read: “I hope losing weight is not one of your 2021 goals. It is a terrible if not dangerous goal — wanna know why?”

I thought many people will be interested in knowing why because I believe that many people add that in their new year’s resolutions. However, only one person sought an explanation. Let’s call her Luna.

Luna told me she wanted to lose weight and particularly stomach fat. I promised her that I will explain what I meant and suggest a better pursuit. This article is way overdue but this is me keeping my word. I was encouraged push through with this commitment by this quote that I read and agree with.

“It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses” __Dag Hammarksjold

I could have responded to Luna privately but I believe she isn’t alone. I also love to write and I found it a great opportunity to write about something that I care about and that might be of value to many people. So here we go. I want to suggest a better goal that will help anyone who wants to lose weight to so effortlessly without even making it their end goal and to pocket many other benefits in the process. Are you ready.

Getting into shape is a noble pursuit and I would cheer for anyone who is doing their best to be in good form but it should not be regarded as an end in itself as a lot of people tend to make it. That perspective very often leads to frustration as efforts are very likely to appear futile except after a long arduous journey. Take it from the world number 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic

Exercising to get fit, control your weight, and improve your energy is really hard.

Novak Djokovic

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

When I started, my goal was simply to “Live with every breath”. That’s when I realized that a lot of the problems we face are because we set less than optimum goals, less than we deserve; we aim too low, and small goals are not uplifting to the human spirit.

A bad goal at best leads to failure (guess how many people who set this same goal of losing weight every year never accomplish it). 99%?. And at worse, if accomplished may actually end up hurting us or something important to us.

I am utterly convinced that if we set the best lifetime goals and give ourselves resonant reasons why it matters to us, we will “attain” them and go beyond. Notice how I put “attain” in quotes. That is because ideal lifetime goals are not a mountain peak we can reach, but more like a mountain ridge that we try to walk for a lifetime.

Our best life is lived when we walk a narrow path, with enough room for freedom and exploration but limited in that we cannot be all over the place or doing everything. There are boundaries we must define for our lives and live within to be truly happy, joyful, and fulfilled every step of the way. In this regard, there are no end goals.

If you had set an end goal as losing weight, here are reasons you should set a better, more comprehensive ideal goal that takes care of your health, fitness and ensures you have enough body and mental energy to power your goals and chase your dreams — to live with every breath.

Reason #1: You are not just body mass

If all you were is just body mass that was only meant to be slim and trim, then losing weight to be slim and trim would be a great goal as you would be moving towards the original design intent.

However, you are much more than that! You are a walking collection of about 30 to 40 trillion living cells that really care nothing about the size of the overall structure they make. Each has a vital role to play and your job is to cater to their needs as much as possible so that they can take care of themselves and you. They will produce the best version of you that you can never craft with any kind of workout regime or exercise routine that the fitness industry is trying to sell to you.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Reason #2: Your goal should be sustainable

A body goal is a lifetime goal and should be. Does the goal have a lifetime relevance? If losing weight is your end game then what happens when you have lost weight? Seems like a trivial question to ask but while many people keep failing to lose weight, some lose some weight and gain more weight.

A big problem with almost everything in our lives is the lack of a maintenance culture and maintenance habits. We work hard to achieve something precious, then stop doing what we did to get there and by default, start losing what we achieved.

By focusing on just losing, you set your mind up to stop at some point. Either when it perceives that you have arrived (whatever that might mean to you) or when it perceives that you aren’t making progress. Accomplishing any goal is a game for the mind first. It determines whether you will quit or grit — push through or fall out.

If your goal isn’t taking into account your fitness and health till you die, it is a poor goal. Or is there some point in your life at which you wouldn’t want to be fit, healthy, and have enough energy to power your passions?

When people start trying to get in shape, many of them tend to want to see observable changes way too soon. Think about it. It took you 2, 3, 5, 10 years to gain weight and you expect visible results after just a few weeks of some “kind of commitment”. And it does work; people do lose some weight in weeks but focusing on developing a lifestyle of fitness is what’s more important. That takes way more time than just a few weeks. If you were to lose weight in record-breaking time, I can guess with a high probability that you’ll regain it just as fast.

The Qualities to Imbue in Your Fitness and Well-being Goal

Your goal should be holistic and comprehensive — an ideal

A perfect body is healthy, full of energy, fit and functional, powers a focused mind, and is aesthetically appealing (symmetric). Coin your body goals such that they are holistic, striving for a perfect body that is healthy, full of energy, fit, functional, powers a focused mind, and aesthetically appealing to the standards realistic for your body type.

Holistic also means considering all your body systems and functions because you are not just body mass. Do not break a vital part of your system because you are pursuing some shape or size; these aren’t as relevant as what the body is able to do, how well it functions. Shoot for the perfect version of you possible. The ideal is not a race finish line. It is rather the quest to be a better you every day.

However, you might want to look a certain way and narrow in on specific areas according to your preferences like reducing/eliminating stomach fat, building stronger muscles, powerful lungs, and heart. There is a lot of room for freedom to choose what you want once the fundamental goal is well chosen.

Stomach fat for instance is often the consequence of the body storing the excess nutrients (glucose) it didn’t use. That could mean two things; either you are taking in more than you need or not engaging in (enough) physical activity that uses the nutrients you take in (burning the excess calories). Addressing the root cause is the best way. Which could be fixing your eating habits and/or making exercise a habit.

As a personal example of addressing the root cause of a problem, one of the problems I suffer from is poor patella tracking. I love to exercise but my knees hurt when I do certain things that I really enjoy doing like playing tennis or doing my afro dance (dancers in the house? you know we can’t just….). When I realized that the pain is due to a poorly tracking patella, to address the pain I had to address the root cause which involved strengthening some specific muscles and relaxing others that control the movement of the patella. Still working on it.

In setting your body goals, consider the body’s functions supreme. For what and how you use your body or want to use it should come first before how it looks. You can look great but feel miserable. You can look great and be lethargic all day. You want to “look fly”, but more importantly, you want to “feel fly”, energetic, and capable of doing the things that are most important to you. You want your body to be fit for the lifestyle you deeply want for a lifetime. Create a comprehensive goal for a perfect body.

Fitness isn’t about looking good in our underwear.__ Yuri Elkaim

So why is simply losing weight less than optimum?

  • You can be trimmer and unhealthy
  • You can be trimmer and lethargic
  • You can lose one and gain two later
  • You can get slim at the cost of other systems within your body
  • You might end up being a loser in losing weight — repeatedly.

Your Ideal body lifetime goal

A good life goal is a continuous pursuit that achieving remains a process and never an event. Here is my comprehensive fitness, health, and energy goal. I am not saying “goals” for good reason. This list constitutes one comprehensive ideal goal broken down into daily fitness, health, and energy goal items. The first three items on the list are my first and ultimate pursuits. The remaining items were added over time as I found they helped me achieve the first three items and also served as indicators of whether or not I was on track to realizing the top goal items.

  1. To live every day with more than enough energy to pursue my goals and dreams.
  2. To feel alive and live with every breath every waking moment.
  3. To have sharp mental clarity and laser focus throughout the day.
  • To sleep sound and get enough rest every day and not wake up feeling groggy or feeling like I have a hangover. Hence, a specific time to go to bed. Once I do that I wake up naturally, no need for alarms.
  • To eat healthy, energy-rich foods in the right way. Hence, I cook my own food, cut out sugar and wheat.
  • To be sufficiently hydrated with water especially from water-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • To have enough energy to play with my grandchildren when I am old. (This one ensures I play the long game. I don’t want to be a boring, burdensome grandpa, we all avoid those)
Image by author

The consequence of pursuing this goal (holistic goal) is that I lost weight effortlessly without even trying to. I look great and feel amazing. My body wakes me up in the morning rather than me dragging myself out of bed. Every morning is “Good morning champion!”. I have enough energy to exercise in the morning and get on with my day, most times tearing through it with bursting energy. I usually require a power nap on most days for invigoration.

When I take my eyes off these daily pursuits, I feel it in my body on the same day or in a few days — tiredness, lethargy, hangover type of feelings, or just bad feelings as if something is missing start to sneak in. If this drifting away from the daily pursuits continues over a long time, I will inevitably start to lose whatever gains I had accumulated. But since I am into this for how it makes me feel, I stay on the daily process easily without the need of paying attention to the visible changes. They simply come as an effortless, unpursued consequence. That’s what you want to do. Focus on the feeling. My goal is summarized simply as “To Live With Every Breath”

Therefore, setting the ideal goal for the perfect body you want to live in every day and how fit and healthy you want to be when you are 60, 70, 80 is the best thing you can do for yourself. The question of whether you live to that age is irrelevant. But if you set the ideal goal and try to live your life in alignment with it, there’s more than a good chance you’ll not only get there but you’ll get there healthy and fit than most.

Now that you know why losing weight was a terrible endgame, what makes a better endgame in this domain, and how to craft the ideal endgame, I want to encourage you to take the time to think deeply about what you want for your body now and in the next 2, 3, 4, 5 decades or whatever timeline seems reasonable for you.

Consider your work, commitments, responsibilities, passions, dreams, and the demands they place on you now and will increasingly place on your body and energy. Craft a comprehensive fitness goal as best as you can that can serve the ideal life you want to live. I have done some of the work, feel free to adopt mine if it resonates with your long game.

For now, don’t worry about how you will achieve the goal, it’s a process remember? — a daily process. The first thing about any journey is to know the destination. Set your destination. Next, put down the reasons why getting to that destination matters to you. Why should you put yourself through the daily discipline that your goal demands? It’s hard work. You better have compelling reasons to live within the constraints that it demands. That is your homework. Did you suppose I will do all this work and leave you without homework?

The next thing is for you to find out what type of exercise you love to do and start with that. What you want to do is to develop a habit of fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Starting with things that you love will help you to easily turn your fitness routines into a habit. That way you will no longer require so much willpower to engage in your fitness activities as you’ll be doing things that you love.

Also, join a community or start one or simply connect with people who are serious about fitness and healthy living. People who want to live with every breath. The journey is much fun when you go with others and you can encourage and support each other. Cheering others on is as powerful a motivator as being cheered on. Cheer yourself on, cheer others on.

Finally, read a book to gain more understanding of the workings of your body. I recommend the following:

  • The All-Day Energy by Yuri Elkaim
  • Serve to Win by Novak Djokovic

Those books are better than buying insurance. They set me out on this exciting journey and I continue to return to them for encouragement and the best advice on how to live fully alive. I have a feeling you’ll write an article after reading them and applying the knowledge to your life as well.

I hope that this article makes a difference in your journey going forward. I wish that you set out on an exciting journey to live with every breath. I believe that in doing so you’ll be much happier, much more alive, and excited about life every day. You’ll also have enough energy to pursue your passions, dreams, and goals. I guarantee that you will love yourself more and that your confidence will soar as you take control of this area of your life. I know that you will experience more benefits than what I’ve mentioned here and I didn’t (and couldn’t) mention them all because I want you to be delightfully amazed when they surface as I was. I have also left certain things out for you to discover as you go along because I know that a journey without discovery is not worth taking.

You are a champion and you are blessed. Now, go on and be unstoppable!!! #LIVE WITH EVERY BREATH.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

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Kizito Nyuytiymbiy

Kizito Nyuytiymbiy

Transformational Speaker | Burgeoning Machine Learning Engineer | Founder loyaltoafrica.com | https://twitter.com/Kizito