Set It and Forget It: Great for Chicken, Bad for Goals

Last week we discussed how to set goals. Basically, figure out where you want to ultimately be, then determine the behaviors your will need to get there, without necessarily having an “end date” for completion.

Here we are, seven days later…

How are those goals going for you? Are you seven days closer to achieving them?

I sure hope so!

For some of you, though, maybe not. You probably read my post and decided you would figure out your goal behaviors later, after scrolling through Facebook a bit longer. You probably thought, “Yup! I’ve got my goal: lose 20 lbs! Starting my sugar free, high protein, low carb diet tomorrow!”

But did you follow up and take action towards those goals?

Getting started can be tough. You are required to do more than just want to be different…you actually have to act in a different way. You have to fight your instincts and habits and possibly experience some serious discomfort in doing so. You have to stay mindful and focused on your goals, even when the alternative for immediate gratification is calling your name.


I LOVE cereal. But this continental breakfast surrounding me is not going to get me closer to my goals. Besides, that's not enough cereal...

I LOVE cereal. But this continental breakfast surrounding me is not going to get me closer to my goals. Besides, that’s not enough cereal…

In The Willpower Instinct, the authors discuss that we always believe our “future selves” to be healthier, more virtuous, and more dedicated than our “current selves.” We always lay more work on our “future selves,” thinking that they will be able to make the changes we want to see. This is a bit more than just procrastinating, though. We are actually convinced that tomorrow we will be able to make better decisions than today. We justify eating tonight’s indulgence with the promise of making sacrifices tomorrow…but when the future finally arrives, we’re back in the present again and our new “current selves” make the same old choices we’ve always made.

So, once you’ve set your goals and the path to get there, how do you actually set out to make change?

Avoid the Trap of “Set It and Forget It”

Don't let your goals sit unattended!

Good for chicken, bad for goals. Don’t let your goals sit unattended!

Setting goals is really fun. Who doesn’t love the start of a new workout or diet plan? But your goals mean NOTHING if you don’t start acting on them. And they mean NOTHING if you don’t work towards them regularly. Intentions are great. Actions are better.

Sit down and make sure that your goals are written out. Make sure you know why you want to achieve them, why your goals are worthy of your effort.

This time tomorrow, look at your goals again. Continually remind yourself what you are working for, and that you need to stay focused on your long term success. The more you reread and connect to your goals and reasons for trying to make change, the less likely the chance of you “forgetting” about what them and putting them off until tomorrow. This action takes the distance away from your goals. Your goals are with you, right here, right now, and you have a wonderful opportunity TODAY to get yourself a little bit closer to them.

A few examples:

In The Power of Full Engagement, the authors emphasize connecting to your goals and core values as the primary step towards improving your life.  One example is a client who keeps kept an index card in the visor of his car with his business goals and core values (i.e., excellence, open communication) on one side, and his family values on the other (i.e., family is the number one priority, being present with family). He would read over his professional goals and values on the way to work and review the other side on the way home.

Tom Venuto, a successful and well known coach/author in the fitness industry, has challenged anyone who meets him to try to catch him without his goal card: an index card that he keeps in his pocket every day, so he can reread it several times a day to stay focused on the things he wants. How can you fail when you are connecting to your goals 3 or 4 times a day??

Personally, I like to rewrite my big goals in my journal every couple of days, right at the top of the page. I usually remember the things I write down, and my goals are no exception. Besides, I get to cross off my successful behavior goals each day! 🙂  If you are a list-maker like I am, you know what that’s like!

Pretty much this.



So, now you are armed with your goals, a plan to get closer to them, and action steps to take every day to keep you moving closer.  Time to get going!


I’d love to know: what is your #1 goal right now? What are you going to do, every day, to get yourself closer to it? Let me know over on the EES Facebook page!

Always here to help,


ec1de76f455d94f199c61ab2e7a394b1 P.S. For more on getting started TODAY, enter your email on the right side of the page to access my FREE EES Handbook! 

Goal Setting for Emotional Eating: Why your SMART Goals Don’t Work

support from othersEvery good personal trainer is skilled at helping their clients set goals. We’re taught to interpret goals like “tone up” and “get fit” as “Lose x percent body fat” or “Increase lean muscle mass.” We’re taught to help people voice what they really want from an exercise program, and then it’s our job to show them how to get from Point A to Point B.

We’re taught to set goals that are SMART:

Specific: Specific goals to help you keep focused and define what you want to change (e.g., “lose 10 lbs of body fat” vs. “slim down”).

Measurable: Find a way to track your progress (e.g., instead of  trying to “tone up,” perhaps you take monthly progress pictures or measure circumference around certain body parts).

Attainable: Know where you are starting and make sure that the outcome you desire is a realistic one for YOU.

Relevant: Make sure that the goal is suitable to your life situation and is one that find worthwhile to pursue.

Time specific: Have a deadline for achieving your goal to keep you focused, accountable, and on track.

smart goal setting concept

This framework for goal setting is effective for physical changes in body composition, especially when a client is brand new to healthy living and just needs a bit of structure and knowledge to start seeing results.

However, if this is not your first attempt to lose weight or get healthy, and your emotional eating habits get the best of you every single time you start a new diet, it may be time to rethink the usefulness of the SMART framework.

The problem with your timeline

I am all for SMAR goals; each of the first four qualities are essential when creating out a plan to establish new behaviors. However, for overcoming emotional issues, it’s time to drop that pesky little “T.”

Having a “T,” a time frame or deadline for meeting your goals, is something that you need to let go of. For so long, I desperately clung to deadline after deadline. I will weigh x lbs by my wedding. I will lose 10 lbs in two weeks.  I will follow this diet program for 30 days. I will stick to this meal plan until my birthday party, etc.

For a long time, I could force myself to do what I had committed to until the end date. But eventually, my willpower ran out and even the thought of trying to lose  x amount of weight before a specific date on the calendar would stress me out enough to start rifling around for a snack to relieve the anxiety.

Start diet today. Finish diet on Friday....Start diet again on Monday. Sound familiar?

Start diet today. Finish diet on Friday….Start diet again on Monday. Sound familiar?

There are 3 main issues with setting a deadline while struggling with emotional eating issues:

You are setting yourself up to rebound. The harder and stricter the diet you employ, and the “better” you are at adhering to the diet, the more you will feel the need to reward yourself when it’s over.

Having a deadline means that once the deadline is past, you can just return to your old habits….the ones that put you in this position in the first place.

If you are too focused on a deadline that is days or weeks or months away, you lose sight of what you can do today. I still tend to struggle with anxiety about the future and the desire to zone out and disengage in order  to “relax,” but redirecting my energy towards things I can actually DO right now really helps fight those tendencies.

How to set SMARB goals

Just like with the SMART framework, you should continue to set goals that will keep you focused on making progress. However, rather than setting a deadline for a desired outcome, be sure to set goals for your behaviors. For example, rather than setting a goal to lose x pounds this week (which is an outcome), set a daily goal of being mindful at meals (a behavior). Make sure these goals are still specific, measurable, attainable and relevant.

Specific: What does mindful mean EXACTLY? For me, it’s striving to put my fork down between bites, tasting each bite of food before I chew and swallow it, eating without distraction, and checking in with my body frequently to see if I’m still enjoying the food or if I’m still hungry.

Measurable: On your fridge or a corkboard that you see every day, list your goal with seven boxes (one for each day) next to it. Record and monitor your daily progress. Did you eat mindfully at dinner tonight? Great, check that box for today. Alternatively, draw big stars or exclamation points or smiley faces in your food journal for every meal that meets your mindfulness goal.

Attainable: Know your starting point. If your dining room table hasn’t been used for dining in years, it’s unlikely you are going to get your family to sit and eat there every single night from now on. Hectic schedules and stress will throw you right back into your old routines, so give yourself a chance to succeed by shooting for a mindful, undistracted meal with your family 3 nights per week, or whatever amount feels reasonable and doable to you.

Relevant: Mindful eating habits are extremely relevant and useful skills for improving your emotional eating habits by reducing emotional reactivity, increasing your enjoyment of the foods you do eat, deepening emotional connections to your family members.

Behavior: Behaviors are actions that you can take every day. Actions are what drive results. They can be physical, but they can also reflect your efforts to change mental and emotional patterns, such as meditating, focusing attention, thought stopping, reciting a mantra, etc.

Just because your goals aren’t being measured in calories, grams, or pounds, it doesn’t mean you can’t measure and track them! Monitor your behaviors and start seeing progress!  Just remember:

There is no finish line. All you have is the journey: a path towards being better than you once were.

Always here to help,


PS. Let me know if you set a SMARB goal for this next week over on the Facebook page! Does having  a deadline motivate you or stress you out?

Movement for Strength, Love, and Life

Last week we addressed why you can’t just go to the gym in order to compensate for your habitual overeating. I hope that idea has had time to sink in, and that you’ve accepted what you really need to work on instead.

BUT, as a personal trainer and gym owner, I still recognize the significant value and importance of regular exercise in improving your life.

So what kind of exercise SHOULD you do?

I have two BIG answers to this: Exercise that you will actually DO

First and foremost, a workout program that you can and will do on a consistent and long-term basis is FAR better than the perfect workout program that you resent and dread doing (for the entire 2 weeks you follow it, anyway). I’m a big advocate for where can i buy stromectol daily movement for everybody, regardless of your gym membership status. Many of the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can be achieved with a 15-30 minute daily walk. Some simple calisthenics in the morning (pushups or modified pushups, bodyweight squats, jumping jacks, etc.) or a few Vinyasa sun salutations are both free and easy ways to add movement to your day without ever leaving your house. Check out the EES Handbook over on the right hand side if you need more activity ideas to get started!

A brief overview of a basic Sun Salutation. One movement per breath, and be careful on those back bends! You probably won't look like the cartoon drawing  there! :-)

An overview of a basic Sun Salutation. Perform one movement per breath, and be careful on those back bends! You probably won’t look like the cartoon drawing, but it gives you an idea! 🙂

Movement and exercise should ADD to your life, not detract from it. The key is to find an expression of movement that you actually enjoy. It should offer you a feeling of peace and accomplishment upon completion, and shouldn’t feel like yet another chore on your long list of daily responsibilites. In fact, try to find an activity in which time seems to pass too quickly, and you actually look forward to the next opportunity to participate. Pursuing movement you enjoy forces you to carve out time for yourself (or with others, if that’s your style) and gives you a chance to connect with your body. Making time for your health each day reminds you that YOU are deserving of your own love and care, just as you love and care for your family and friends.
Exercise that makes you BETTER

Now that you’ve eased your way in to a regular workout/fitness/movement routine and found that you CAN enjoy physical activity, the next step is to strive to improve your physical capacity. Given your current health status, quality of life, and fitness ability, figure out what elements of fitness you might want or need to improve. Do you get winded walking the dog up the street? Do you have a hard time maneuvering your body in and out of your car? Do you need to get assistance moving your groceries from the shopping cart into your trunk? Do you even try to lift something off of a high shelf, or do you immediately ask for help?

If you have no idea what needs improving or how to do it, here’s a hint:

Strength will help.

Being stronger is better, in almost every instance. The stronger of two retirees is likely to live longer, and with a better quality of life. The stronger athlete tends to succeed more often in sporting events. The stronger of two runners is usually faster. The stronger individual is less prone to injury in daily life. The stronger you are, the easier everything becomes.

Strength training also provides health benefits that are generally associated with other forms of activity, such as improved cardiovascular fitness (if you’ve ever performed a set of 10 relatively heavy squats, you know that strength training can get your heart a-thumpin’), injury prevention, body awareness, mobility and activity level later in life, muscle “tone” and (I know you were waiting for this)… fat loss.

Notice that I put fat loss LAST.

Yes, I know you are here to learn about how to overcome your emotional barriers that stand between you and a healthier and happier life. I know you were hoping for the best and most efficient fat loss exercise. If so, you’ve forgotten the message from last week: exercise is not the most direct and efficient path to fat loss!

One of the first steps in regaining your sanity around food and your body is recognizing that fat loss is not the goal to end all goals, and its pursuit should not dominate your life.

What else can you ask of your body, aside from it being smaller or skinnier or smoother or more toned? How about asking it to do more, to be more of a participant in life and less of an observer? I guarantee that when your physical body doesn’t hold you back because it’s strong and healthy, a whole new world of opportunities will open up to you.

Check out one of my clients, Loretto (along with her husband, Tom, another one of my clients), living fully and enjoying PARTICIPATING in a game of wiffle ball with her family. Before she started training at the gym, she would sit on the side and watch her family at play, declining any offer to participate. Her husband Tom (the pitcher, and another one of my clients who is moving quite well!), showed me this video and my heart swelled with pride….especially when he told me that Loretto actually VOLUNTEERED to play in this game!

In the pursuit of living and engaging more fully with the world around you, you will achieve enough fat loss to live a happy and healthy life — no obsessing necessary.


BONUS: Exercise that feels like a SPRINT

Sometimes, you just need to put everything you’ve got into your workout. You need to leave it all on the table. You’re required to be in your body, present, in that moment of exertion. You won’t be thinking about what’s for dinner, or reminding yourself about that mail that needs to get sent out today.

You need to feel your lungs burn, your heart pound, your legs ache, and then tell yourself to go even faster. You challenge yourself to push through your discomfort, knowing that the pain is temporary and the reward is worthy. Nothing creates more mental toughness, sense of accomplishment, and tired satisfaction than sprinting.*

…And also, in the right doses, sprinting just so happens to be an excellent tool for fat loss.

*Sprinting doesn’t have to be “running,” per se. It can certainly be done on a bike, a rower, pushing a sled, etc. Be sure to work hard while respecting your current ability and fitness level, and challenge yourself safely. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to consult a doctor or health professional before you begin an exercise program.


I could write for days on exercise, but you’ll have to keep checking back in for more! If you are interested in learning more about incorporating these types of workouts, then you should definitely sign up for the EES handbook and subscribe to my newsletter! 

Always here to help,


PS – Let’s hear it from you! Let me know, either in the comments or back on the Facebook page, 1) What is your favorite physical activity, something you could do happily for hours and hours on end? 2) Do you strength train? How has getting stronger changed your everyday life?

Kettlebell carries and swings + puggle chasing feels more like "play" than exercise!

One of my faves: kettlebell carries and swings + puggle chasing feels more like “play” than exercise!