For Weight Loss Success, Focus on Action Goals

A few days ago, I picked up my golf clubs for the first time in over seven years.   Fortunately I was under the watchful eye of teaching pro Jennifer Greggain at the Chilliwack Golf Club.  During my lesson, Jennifer gave me very objective things to work on, such as exactly where my body should be during my set up, and a few key points to think about during my swing.  Later this morning, I will go out to play a round of golf.  Instead of thinking about how straight or far I hit each shot, I will focus on swinging ‘down and through’, and rotating my body on follow through.   I have an action-based goal.
Setting action-based goals are important whenever you seek to change or improve, including if you want to lose weight.  When it comes to weight loss, many people tend to focus on a number on the scale, or inches lost.  While these results or outcome goals are the driving forces to seek change, it’s the action-based goals that will get you there.
There are a few reasons why you should focus on action goals versus result goals.  Action-goals allow you to be 100% in control of your success.  With a goal such as “I will lose 10 pounds by October 1”, your result is largely out of your control.  You don’t know exactly how your body will respond to an exercise or eating plan.   Perhaps you do all the right things, but you only lose three pounds.  Because you didn’t reach your goal, you may be discouraged and give up, despite making many healthy choices and making progress.  In contrast, an action focus, such as “I will go for a walk after supper three evenings a week” or “I will eat my dinner mindfully each day and track my food in my online food journal everyday”, allows you to experience success regardless of the number on the scale or the tape measure.
Focusing on action-goals also makes the journey more pleasant and positive. Author Dennis Wholey said “Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results”.  On the golf course, I will enjoy my round by working on my set up and follow through, rather than being discouraged if my shot ends up in the trees.  With weight loss, you can enjoy the process by celebrating success each day, such as when you plan your meals each week, or read a good book to stimulate your mind instead of heading to the refrigerator.
While outcome goals, such as improving your golf game or losing weight, drives us to take action in the first place, the outcome or result is achieved by taking action steps.  Without action, there are no results.  To stay motivated, to be in control of your success, and to enjoy the process, focus on action goals instead of outcome goals.
As I head out to the golf course, I know that no matter what my score is today, I have the opportunity to experience success and enjoy the experience because as I have specific action goals.  And, because I have the guidance of an expert coach, I know that accomplishing my action goals will help me reach my desired outcome: a better score.
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio in Chilliwack.  Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  For more fitness tips go to

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