Someone told me that if I verbalised my goals, if I “put them out into the universe”, I would achieve them. This works, right?
Not true. I’ve realised you can tell your goals to as many people as you like, but they won’t be realised if you don’t have a strategy to achieve them and are willing to put in the necessary hard work.
Here is what Spanish artist Pablo Picasso had to say about this: “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
And it was with this in mind that I decided that rather than merely running around the field, I needed to score a goal - and to do that, I needed a game plan.
While I managed to lose a lot of weight in a relatively short period last year, I have been struggling to shake the last 5kg that will take me to goal weight and have been plateauing since February.
The problem is that few of us embark on our health, fitness and weight loss efforts fully equipped with the knowledge or understanding of how our bodies work, or the strategies that can help us.
Far fewer of us are equipped - intellectually and psychologically - to deal with the hurdles along the way, which often leads to frustration and eventually, giving up.
It was a Facebook post by Sleekgeek founder Elan Lohmann last week that helped me come unstuck. He wrote: “When you weigh less, you burn less. As a smaller person, you expend less energy moving around than you did at your heavier weight.
“Thus, the same number of calories that produced an initial loss may now just maintain your current weight.
“To continue losing, you’ll have to increase the calories you burn through physical activity and/or reduce the number of calories you eat.”
And right there I had my proverbial light-bulb moment.
Even though I had made a number of changes in my lifestyle since last year, I’d become complacent and taken my eye off the ball.
So I’ve decided to shift into a higher gear and get real about reaching my goal. This means setting a deadline, putting a plan in place and having mechanisms for keeping myself accountable. It also means reading more, learning more and putting it into practice.
What works for me is making lists and keeping as detailed accounts of my experiences as possible. This helps to track what’s working and what’s not and where I need to make adjustments.
It feels somehow appropriate that, having used up the last page of the journal I’ve been keeping since last January, the first entry in my new one is all about goals - or, one goal in particular.
“I want to reach goal weight before I reach 40.” That gives me four months to lose 5kg. An average of 1.25kg a month.
Definitely do-able, but I’ll have to undo some bad habits, like the bag of cashews in my desk drawer. While nuts are healthy, they’re high in calories and are my downfall.
I’m also going to eat more fresh vegetables, focus on my portion sizes and increase the intensity of my workouts.
And I’m going to use a calorie-tracking app, not because I want to obsess over everything I eat, but because I want to better equip myself with an understanding of how what I’m eating impacts on my ability to reach my goal.
While my goal may be to lose some more weight, yours might be different, but my message remains the same. List want you want to achieve. Devise a plan. And go for goal.
* Chantel Erfort Manuel's Edited Eating column appears in the Weekend Argus every Sunday. Check out her blog at www.editedeating.co.za or follow @editedeating on social media.