As someone who lost 105 pounds and kept it off for 17 years, I loved it when a game show about massive weight loss hit the airwaves in 2004.
The Biggest Loser became a smash success with over two dozen international versions, and is returning to TV in 2020. Within a season, it was not unusual for contestants to shed 30, 40, or even 50-plus percent of their body weight, an astonishing transformation.
A contestant’s daily schedule on the show was grueling, consisting of 6+ hours of exercise, a deeply restrictive diet, and daily check-ins with doctors.
Even amidst what must have been enormous cortisol spikes from the stress, these contestants went on to lose tremendous amounts of weight in short periods of time, spawning a movement of self-talk for millions that you too can drop 30 pounds in a month if you just try hard enough.
I assert the biggest reason these contestants gain momentum is that their life responsibilities are on hold. There are no unexpected family or personal detours to derail contestants from their goal – and that environment is unsustainable.
Sure enough, many of these contestants began to regain weight the moment they left the ranch, as evidenced by their finale episode weigh-in.
A darker reality emerged years later, though. In continuing to track the health of contestants years after their appearance on the show, many of them had gained everything back. Long-term medical studies on contestants also showed the contestants’ resting metabolisms were permanently damaged.
(This is an overarching crisis in post-obesity lifestyle: 90% – 90 percent! – of people who lose 30+ pounds end up gaining it back.) A few former contestants have remained successful, though.
So does the intense time spent filming on the ranch actually set up Biggest Loser contestants for failure? And does a similar thing happen with your goals? To achieve your goals this year, you might need to figure it out.
To Achieve Goals This Year, Overcome “Biggest Loser Paradox”
On the one hand, immersions, intensives, or jumpstarts intentionally shut off the outside world to help you build momentum or get extended tutelage from a mentor or a master teacher. I’ve loved the workshops I’ve attended over the years.
The integration process, however, is equally important for success. And the techniques for integrating into your life may be completely different than what you did to get inspired in the first place.
The first step, the immersion, is way sexier. But you need both if you want to overcome the paradox and bring your goals to life this year.
Examine your goals or aspirations for the year. When will you doing “immersive” activities that get your fire burning bright, and when will you integrate that passion into progress? Seek a balance of the two.
How To Achieve Your Goals This Year
#1: Give yourself a running start.
If you’re pursuing a new habit, nothing exists in your lifestyle to support you reaching this goal. Consider taking time to learn deeply. Not “sequester yourself on a ranch” deep, but you get the idae.
For example, I knew that I wanted to start writing on Medium this year and write more in general. So rather than jump in cold on January 1st, I spent about a month writing scraps here and there, creating a tracker that helps me stay organized, and going down rabbit holes in various publications I enjoyed.
This gave me time to not only learn and memorize the feeling of pumping out words each day, but also showed me where I was likely to get derailed, allowing be to build in failsafes.
#2: Make integration the priority.
Studies show it’s hard to change your day-to-day behavior. Give yourself some grace and invest more of your energy and willpower into the integration process.
If your goal is writing, maybe it’s better to kick out 200 words daily amidst the day-job chaos rather than beast out 2,000 words in the Sunday morning silence.
Adjust for distractions. Adjust for days where I’m sick or not feeling it. You only discover these solutions in the trenches of integration.
#3: Keep the end goal interesting and inspiring.
Season 1 Biggest Loser winner Ryan said on the record that, once the pressure of being on the show was off, he didn’t have incentive to keep exercising and losing weight. I get it.
If your fire isn’t burning bright, this is all for naught. You’ll surely be uncomfortable as you incorporate new habits into your life.
- Maybe something immersive will rekindle your spirit.
- Perhaps you respond to gamification or a reward system for progress made.
- And there’s always a chance the motivation behind your goals gets distorted. I have to check myself that I’m writing on Medium to express myself and increase my writing facility, not to win a popularity contest.
It’s resolution-setting season and you may find yourself creating grand plans for what you’ll do this year.
Go on, then - get inspired. Remember to integrate along the way. And keep your original motivations top-of-mind as you progress on your goals.