About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Want to Lose Weight? It's The Small Battles That Count!

Even if you don't follow football you've probably heard that the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl and are this year's NFL champions.  My hat's off to the Saints on a great season and an inspirational championship for a city that could use something positive.  But this is a blog about weight loss and I find myself thinking about the parallels between sports and the goal to lose weight.  There's something to be learned from the Saints, or any champion from any sport for that matter.

When people look at a team that has just won the championship, the focus tends to be on that last championship game and the great battle that was won.  But take a step back for a moment and really think about how that team got that big win in the first place.  In order to be able play in that game the Saints had to win the NFC Championship.  In order to win the NFC Championship game, they had to first win a Divisional Playoff Game and in order to even get to that game they had to win enough games in the regular season to make the playoffs.  Now let's dig a little deeper...In order to win every one of the 16 games they won, they had to win a lot of little battles.  Every game is made up of well over one hundred plays.  In every play there are 11 individuals that all have their own personal battle to play out.  Do some simple math and you can quickly see that their road to the championship involved hundreds of thousands of little battles over the course of many months that needed to be won.  Did they win every one?  Not even close, but it's a fair assumption that they won more of those battles than they lost.

It is the same thing when you are trying to lose weight.  All too often we focus on the end result.  The Super Bowl victory of weight loss means hitting that magic number you decided on in the beginning of your journey.  We tend to put a lot of focus on that big (small) number even though it is so far away.  We also put a lot of focus on meeting our weekly goals, but rarely do we look at all those little battles that must be won day in and day out.  It's OK to have those lofty goals and to think of them once in a while but you have to think small every day.  Do you think that football player lines up for a play thinking about how he's going to win the Super Bowl?  He's thinking about one thing and one thing only...How to win the little battle that's right in front of him.

So what should you do?

  1. Try to put those end results away and focus on the job at hand.  If you don't win the daily battles you never will get to the playoffs, not to mention the championship.
  2. Use your little victories to inspire you to more little victories in the hopes that stringing them together will help you win the game.  Most goals scored come from stringing together lots of little victories, not one giant leap.
  3. Recognize you cannot win every single battle.  It's impossible, so don't even try.  Instead, when you get beat, pick yourself up off the ground, pull the grass from your helmet, and win that next little battle.  Just like a string of wins is uplifting, a string of losses is equally demoralizing.
There's one more thing to consider as well (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT).  Be aware that once in a while, one small victory can become the catalyst that ultimately hurls you toward your goal and gives you the boost you need to see it all the way to the end.  These are rare instances and there is no way to predict beforehand which one will cause it to happen.  History is full of stories of how one seemingly insignificant win changed things forever.  As I said, you have no way of knowing when this could happen, so the only way to improve your chances is to increase the number of victories you have.  Once you have it, it will instantly catapult you forward and the small battles you face will suddenly become so much easier to win. 

I'll end on a personal note that illustrates this concept.  Last night my family and I went out to dinner.  I ate reasonably well and actually saved half my meal for the next day (small victory #1).  On the way home my wife wanted to stop and get some chocolate cake for dessert and I was all for it.  When we got home I was excited about the chocolate cake but wanted to wait until after 8:00 so I could eat it while watching TV.  With an hour to kill (I promised I would avoid the TV and PC until after 8:00PM) I suddenly had this urge to do something useful.  I went into my basement and got on the elliptical trainer and knocked out 3 miles!  That's more than I ever have done at one time (small victory #2). 

After that, the chocolate cake didn't seem as appetizing.  I didn't want to undo the 3 miles that I had just worked my butt off for.  In the end I passed on the chocolate cake (small victory #3) and went to bed satisfied with the decisions I made.  Those 3 small victories are actually what inspired me to write this article.  Today I'm still feeling happy about those decisions; success can be infectious.  Who knows if somewhere down the road I might hit the scale at 199 and look back at my journey and think "I'm so glad I didn't eat that chocolate cake!"

I hope this article helps you to remember today so you can have a better tomorrow.  Win those little battles; you never know which one you may remember forever.


  1. Awesome post! Always count the WINS!


  2. I love any opportunity to draw parallels between sports and life, and it really does fit the weight loss thing. Especially for the times when we all want to just quit because we feel the wind knocked out of us for whatever reason (we had a bad eating weekend, life is throwing lots of stress at us, whatever). The team that ultimately wins the Super Bowl is the group of players who keep getting back up and perservering through pain and exhauastion and hundreds of other setbacks and obstacles.

    Great post and congrats on the wins!