Why your goal weight is stupid

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Q&A

I have a question for you.  Are the last 10 pounds relative? By this I mean pertaining to your final goal.

How do you define what the last 10 pounds are? For example,I weigh 136 pounds at 5ft 3. I think I would be happy to lose another 7 to 10 pounds as I’ve been at this weight previously and was happy with it and I like to keep my curves. On the other hand there are women of the same height who may wish to lose a further 10 pounds than me but still be in the correct weight category for their height.

So when is the last 10 pounds really the last 10 pounds?

I would love to know your thoughts on this because presently I’m really confused about what my goals should be. Should I shoot for 1 pound a week loss as I’m still at the heavier end of my healthy weight range or drop to half a pound so as not to compromise my body composition I’m not aiming for skinny fat!

Hope you don’t mind me picking your brains and I thought this subject may be interesting to others to.

First, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as the “last 10 lbs.” At least not in my world. Reason being – having a “last 10 lbs” implies that a certain weight, based on BMI, is ideal regardless of body composition.  Suppose we compiled a group of women with your exact same stats in terms of height and weight.  Do you think they’d all look the same in terms of physique?  Now suppose we had them all lose 10 lbs.  Some of them would look excellent. Some of them would look terrible. Which is why goal weights are pretty ridiculous if you ask me.

When you have 50 or 100 + lbs to lose, goal weights are fine. They keep you focused on the right direction. But as you get closer, it takes a more refined, precise and deliberate approach. The goal of hitting a specific weight goes out the window and optimizing the amount of muscle mass you have relative to fat mass becomes the name of the game.

Which is why various people can “wear” the same weight so differently. Height and bone structure plays a role. Fat distribution plays a role. These variables are out of your control. But how much muscle and fat you have plays a huge role. And this is what people need to be focusing on as these variables, for the most part, are in our control.

I can tell you that I’ve worked with women who came to me saying, “I want to lose 5-10 lbs.” They don’t know why. It’s generally some silly idea they have in their head of what they weighed in high school or whatever. They’re hoping that 5-10 lbs lost will ultimately and magically give them the body they imagine themselves having. And that’s the mindset our society has created – weight loss is the answer to all of your problems regardless of how thin you are.

Of these clients, many of them left my gym heavier than when they came.  And they were happy too.  It was the optimization of their body composition rather than losing more weight that ultimately made them feel (and look) good.

I’m not sure if I answered your questions, but this should be a good start.


Thanks so much for the reply.

From what I’ve been reading on this site I’m definitely changing my views on how it’s not just about a number on the scale I should ultimately be aiming for. Like a lot of other women though I find it a daunting prospect to eat more calories and add strength training instead of low cal dieting and cardio. I find it downright scary to be honest!

I’m really unsure of how to change my approach and what I should/shouldn’t be doing.

It has to start with applying logic to the situation. You agree that at any given weight, some women will look good while others will look not so good, right? Knowing this, we can deduce that weight really doesn’t matter – it’s quite arbitrary. Unless you’re trying to compete in some sport that has weight classes and you’re not telling me.

We know what goes into building an ideal physique – losing fat while maintaining (or even building) muscle.  So that’s what we need to focus on. When these variables are optimized, where your weight sits is where your weight sits.  Who cares?  If you looked exactly as you dream about looking, would your weight really matter to you?

Suppose we found out that oxygen was going to run out on Earth and they (whoever “they” are) devised a master plan to start a fresh society in outer space.  Would all of these women who are so hung up on the number on the scale suddenly be happy, even though their bodies didn’t change a lick, simply because gravity no longer “did it’s thing”?

Don’t let culture and media dictate what you do. They’re out for your money and nothing more and unfortunately, they’ve brainwashed a lot of people, especially women, into believing weight is the ultimate arbiter over appearance.  It’s just not logical.  Reminds me how cigarette companies used to frame their advertisements in a way that made people feel as if you weren’t cool unless you were puffing on their poison sticks.

Totally agree with what you say about the media. There are magazine articles with a line up of celebrities and what they weigh from light to heavy ! There is also a website that allows you to put in your stats or your desired stats and see what other women look like at that weight/height !

Its supposed to be empowering to women but it ends up with women looking at it and almost “shopping” for what their ideal weight should be. And I guess thats where the obsession for seeing the scale hit a specific number comes from. Its like “oh look! Jennifer Aniston is my height,if only I could get to her weight I would look like her!’.

I’m taking onboard what you are saying and am going to have to work on changing mentally and physically. The mental side will be hard after years (I’m 31 and first went on a diet at 16!) of thinking it was all down to that magic number and being ignorant about body composition and the major importance of that in getting the result I desire. Thanks so much for your insights and I will continue to be educated by your posts and blog
Very well put.

I think if you dive in and structure your exercise around building a better body opposed to reaching a certain weight, in short time you’ll forget about your obsession as you’ll be looking and feeling much better. And if you’re not happy, what’s the big deal? It’s not like you’re signing a contract where you can never go back to your “old ways” of doing things. Don’t apply unnecessary rigidity to this where you’re feeling overly anxious about nothing.


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