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When you open our app for the first time, we ask you to ‘Choose a Goal’.

There are three options: 1) Lose Weight, 2) Gain Weight, 3) Be Healthier

A lot of us without hesitation pick the first option. Lose Weight. “Because who doesn’t want to shed a couple unwanted pounds?”

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to shed a few pounds, and at Lifesum we’ve given you the option to set a weight loss or weight gain goal, but I think we need to make sure we choose our goals for the right reasons.

When I first downloaded the Lifesum app (which was before I worked here by the way – just so you know), I too picked the Lose Weight option.

Since working at Lifesum, that’s changed. I’d choose the ‘Be Healthier’ option every time. Partly due to the fact that I have gotten leaner, but mostly because I’ve learned some things about health and my body.

1) Weight isn’t everything
I really wanted to write ‘weight is nothing’, but I don’t want to sound too extreme. I’m sure you guys read my blog post last week about the scale being the devil incarnate, but beyond that weight is only one indication that you’re healthy. And ultimately health, not weight loss, should be the ultimate goal because health looks at all aspects of your wellbeing, not just your waist size, or the number on the scale.

The truth is that you could have reached your goal weight and still be unhealthy. You could have tummy rolls and still be healthy.

Whilst health does look at your body measurements, it also takes into account how active you are, your heart rate, the foods you eat, blood sugar levels and cholesterol, blood pressure, lung condition, sleep and stress levels, and time spent outdoors, to name a few other factors.

2) Long-term thinking is critical
Most of us are looking for a quick-fix when it comes to weight loss. We want to fit in those pants, or that dress, we want to look good for that event or vacation, or our wedding…you get the idea. While it’s very normal, quick-fix thinking is dangerous.

It can make us do some insane things – body wraps, cabbage soup diets, working out twice (or thrice!) a day.

It also only delivers in the short-term. I mean think about it, the cabbage soup diet might help you shift the pounds in time for the wedding, but once you revert to eating anything but cabbage, the pounds return. And don’t kid yourself, no-one wants to eat cabbage everyday in the long-term. No-one.

The other thing quick-fix thinking does is sets us up to fail. Quick-fix diets require seriously drastic measures. Who has time to workout three times a day? Who even wants to? (I’m sure there are a few of you workout-loving unicorns out there somewhere). Let’s say one day you don’t manage to get to the gym, that’s three workouts you’ve missed. Then you kick yourself for missing them even though it makes perfect sense that you missed them because you were studying/nursing a sick kid/on your period/hungover; so you say to yourself ‘Well I messed up, I might as well not bother anymore because I ruined everything’ (which you didn’t by the way).

What if you swapped quick-fix thinking for long-term thinking?

You wouldn’t have to do anything insane. No crazy big changes. You’d be able to maintain it because it would be more manageable, which would mean you could kiss massive weight/clothing size fluctuations goodbye forever (big word I know). If you managed to eat better or workout more than you needed to, it would be a pleasant bonus, and if you did ‘mess up’, it wouldn’t be the end of everything.

So how should you set health goals?

1) Holistically
Weight is a great way of measuring progress, but it’s only part of the health story. Think about everything: how you breathe, how you sleep, your self-image, your stress levels, your eating habits (because it doesn’t matter how much weigh or what size you are, bingeing on candy is always going to be unhealthy). Every single aspect weighs in on the health issue, and sleep affects how you eat the same way the way you eat affects how you sleep. Everything is important.

2) Realistically
Only you know your schedule and your priorities. As much as I would love to have the incredible abs of Kayla, the Tone it Up girls, and the Base Body Babes, making the daily and weekly sacrifices required to attain them is not a realistic goal for someone with my timetable and life goals. How many days a week can you work out? Do you eat a lot with friends? Do you have kids? These are all things you need to think about in order to set realistic goals.

3) Long-term
This needs to be sustainable. You need to be able to do it not just for a month, but for 12 months, 2 years, 5 years. It should be a lifestyle that lasts a lifetime.

And another thing…
There is more than one way to become healthier in the long-term. Intermittent fasting might work best for you, or just learning more about the right foods, or switching to a diet that focuses more on healthy fats. Open up the Plans tab in the app to see what’s available, there’s guaranteed to be something for you.

/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out

RELATED: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Completely Trust The Scale

With Lifesum, tracking your healthy habits (and the not so healthy ones) becomes a breeze. We’ll help you pick the right food, and eat the right portion sizes, to reach your personal health goals.

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