Deb Eleanor Introduces the Goal Queen!

Eleanor BrownWhen I saw that the topic for this week’s post was goals, I had only one thing on my mind – I must get Skinny Emmie to do a guest post for us!

Emily Sandford is the blogger behind Skinny Emmie, the weight-loss blog of a thirty-year old Biggest Loser reject who has lost over 112 pounds on the journey for a healthy and happy life. By day, she is a marketer playing grown-up; by night she is a weight loss ninja and social media addict. You can follow her journey on Skinny Emmie, Twitter, or Facebook.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Emily has lost over 112 pounds, and she blogs over at SkinnyEmmie.com about that journey. She’s smart and funny and ridiculously honest about her successes and failures, and even if you aren’t interested in health and fitness, I highly recommend her blog as a reminder of how every one of us can achieve something amazing when we commit to it.

Emily was kind enough to answer some questions for me, so without further ado, let the inspiration begin!

Emily Sandford, aka Skinny EmmieOne of the things I love about Skinny Emmie is that you have long-term goals, but you’re also great at setting short-term goals for yourself. What are the characteristics of a good long-term goal?

The problem with many long-term goals is that we frame them in concrete terms – we set them and then do not allow ourselves to mold those into different iterations of themselves as time progresses. For example, I might say, “My long-term goal is to lose 200 pounds.” With that, I have set myself up with a specific number. If I do not hit that specific number, I will categorize that long-term goal as yet another that I fail to reach which for me, often sends me down a path of self-destructive behavior. How many times have people become incredibly discouraged because they were eternally 10 pounds away from their goal weight? By flipping that goal into something less concrete (such as, “My long-term goal is to lose weight in order to lead the most healthy life possible,”), we allow ourselves the wiggle room that is essential in finding peace at the end of the journey – the proverbial “check mark.” To change our thoughts and goals from concrete to clay is the ultimate challenge.

A good long-term goal should meet these criteria:
1. Aspirational: Does it give you hope just thinking about it? Can you identify feelings/emotions associated with reaching that goal?
2. Attainable: Is this something you can realistically achieve? Most things are possible, but sometimes people reach for things that require a sequence of external, uncontrollable events to occur in order to reach it. I can no longer say, “I will marry Prince William.” I also can’t ever say, “I will lose 300 pounds,” because my body physically can’t go that low in weight without extreme, destructive methods.
3. Adaptable: Are there variations of this goal that could be brought up over time? For example, if my goal is to become an author, are there different ways to achieve this? Yes: I could self-publish, get published by a big publishing house, or even write an e-book. You could think of this as a “Plan B” (or C or D) of sorts.

What about short-term goals? How are they different? Why have them?

Short-term goals are extremely important in that they give motivation and that sense of accomplishment that needs to come between trying to reach larger goals. I look at them as the breadcrumbs that will lead you to your final destination. I’m a checklist type of gal, so I use short-term goals as a measuring stick against the long-term goal. The biggest difference between short-term and long-term goals is that short-term goals can be concrete. These can be mini-achievements that are evidence that you are moving in the right direction. For me, they could be completing a 5K, completing a half-marathon, or doing something I wouldn’t have done before my journey started. These tangible checklist items are essential for maintaining momentum to the long-term goal.

Skinny Emmie blog header
What short-term goal are you proudest of achieving? Why was it so important?

Finishing my first 5K last July was probably the proudest short-term goal thus far – even over finishing a half-marathon or hitting the 100-pounds-lost mark. It was important because it was the first feeling of true accomplishment and movement in the right direction for my long-term goal. I challenged my mind by doing something I thought I would never do because of anxiety. I challenged my body because it is something I could not physically do at the start of the journey. I took a step of faith and asked for people to help me finish it – and they did. This was the first major physical and emotional breakthrough and it is something that no one can ever take back.

What do failure and success mean to you?

Success is putting your best effort forth and persevering by taking roadblocks and turning them into speed bumps.
Failure is the repeated or long-term giving up on yourself because the fear-monster comes to play. The losing sight of our own strength and abilities is the ultimate self-destructive behavior.

We all have great days and lousy days, and you are so wonderful about being honest on Skinny Emmie about both of them. What is your advice on dealing with both of those – comforting yourself when things are tough, and celebrating yourself when things go right?

The power of reflection is a wonderful gift, and can be used as a source of comfort, strength and celebration. I have some early posts and some private journal entries from before the journey started that I can reflect on to see how far I’ve come. I always have these invaluable pieces of evidence of a starting point to reference when things go well and when they get tough. Have I hit a weight loss plateau? Let me remind myself of how far I’ve come. Have I achieved something I previously never thought I would? Let me remind myself of how momentous this is by looking back at where I started. Reflection is essential in affirming accomplishments and providing motivation when you lose sight of the goal.


Skinny Emmie Cartoon LogoI’m so grateful to Emily for coming by today! FYI, One of my favorite posts of Emily’s was when she finished a half-marathon (at almost 350 pounds, thank you very much) – her success touched me so much I actually cried when I read it, as did her follow-up post on donating the $2,628 she raised doing the half-marathon for Parkinson’s Disease research in memory of her mother. Drop by and visit!

Your turn! Answer any of the questions I asked Emily (see below!), or you can just comment on how awesome she is, because that’s pretty much how I feel!

What are the characteristics of a good long-term goal?
What about short-term goals?
What short-term (or long-term!) goal are you proudest of achieving?
What do failure and success mean to you?
What is your advice on dealing with good days and bad days – comforting yourself when things are tough, and celebrating yourself when things go right?



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27 thoughts on “Deb Eleanor Introduces the Goal Queen!

  1. Holding my book feels great – even though it’s NOT the book I thought I would have published. Flexibility is also important – altering the goal isn’t defeat – it can mean progress.

    • That is an excellent point. You of all people know the curve balls life can throw at us, and as Emily pointed out, having flexible goals means that we can count success in many different ways.

  2. The local ZUMBA instructor lost 65 pounds through Weight Watchers, Zumba and kickboxing – she looks amazing – lean, fit, healthy. She inspires me when I see her. Another woman in her class lost 50 pounds and in her 50s has a gorgeous figure. I’m always impressed at healthy weight loss, it’s one of the hardest things to to – congrats Skinny Em!

    • I love it when fitness instructors have stories like that – they make me believe in the power of change!

    • Thank you, Kim. One of my local Zumba instructors also lost a large chunk of weight and then got certified- it’s inspiring. And congratulations on being able to hold your book. I hope to one day do the same.

  3. Wow! What a great post. You rock, Skinny Emmie! You’re truly inspirational.

    My advice for dealing with good days and bad days on the road to what will hopefully be a successful writing career? First of all, remember to celebrate the small successes. It’s too easy to let the downer moments overwhelm you while you blithely ignore the up times. I used to crack out the champagne when I got requests for partials. When my books finally sold, I came close to dancing on the rooftop. *grin*

    Bad days? Lord knows there are plenty of those to go around. In the writing biz, rejection abounds. I think it’s okay to wallow a bit, just to get it out of your system. But I’ve tried to develop a healthy “comfort” system to fall back on, so I’m not tempted to become counter-productively morose when things aren’t going well. I read old favorites while indulging myself with dark chocolate for lunch. (What? Dark chocolate has so many antioxidants that it’s practically health food…but it tastes like you’re getting away with something.) A long walk, just me and an ipod loaded with upbeat music helps, too. And, when all else fails, I’ve been known to punch a pillow. Amazing how therapeutic that can be. 😉

    • It’s true – I posted recently about “small breaks” and how we forget those because we’re thinking about the “big breaks” instead. Goals and successes are the same way.

      I’m all about rewards on the way to short and long-term goals. I should be better about comforting myself when things go wrong instead of beating myself up about them. Pillow-punching sounds good to me!

    • I like how you celebrate little victories (or, I’m just a lush who enjoys champagne). I agree with Eleanor, pillow punching sounds fantastic!

  4. Wonderful article Deb and Emmie you are so fantastic! Honestly, it’s too hard for me to address everything I loved about this article–I’m at work (sssh!)–but I wanted to say that this sentence:

    “Failure is the repeated or long-term giving up on yourself because the fear-monster comes to play. The losing sight of our own strength and abilities is the ultimate self-destructive behavior.”

    Resonates deeply with me. This was my problem for so long, and still is to a point, but I’m addressing it and attacking for probably the first time in a VERY long time.

    Thank you so much for a great article!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Sara! I love that line, too – it’s so easy to set impossible goals and then feel like we’ve failed, and then call ourselves “failures” because we didn’t achieve perfection.

      I’m so glad Emily came to visit!

    • Thanks for your comment Sara. I think the problem with fear and the subsequent failure is that it sneaks up on us, and we often don’t realize that until we hit another low point. We all deal with it in one way or another – kudos to you for addressing it and attacking it!

  5. I just have to leave some love for SkinnyEmmie!
    Plus, now I’ve discovered this cool site too.
    I will read this again. I’m just thinking about goals and really aiming to meet some of them this summer.
    Great interview!

  6. Emily, you are awesome and so very inspiring!
    Too many times I let fear get the better of me and don’t think I deserve to celebrate the small successes. Learning hard to believe in myself and know that it takes baby steps sometimes to achieve that goal/ dream. Thanks for the post Emily and Eleanor! 🙂

    • Isn’t she amazing? I just love her.

      And yes, those small successes are what help us build to our big ones (as I mentioned when I talked about the “little breaks” a few weeks ago. Here’s to your dreams!

    • Thanks so much, Jackie. 🙂 I think it’s interesting to think of “baby steps” – when a baby takes steps, it’s monumental… a key developmental milestone. Too bad we as adults can’t think of them the same way.

      • wowza! ding,ding,ding and the bell goes off! DUH! We adults say it all the time as baby takes that first step, but not about ourselves! Thanks so much, Emily, for the great, but obvious, insight! i hope others realize this as well ( and that I’m not the only one.. 🙂

  7. I LOVE SKINNY EMMIE!!!!

    Going to subscribe to her blog immediately.

    If you talk to her, Eleanor, ask her if she has ever read the book Running with Angels. It’s by a woman who also lost well over 100 pounds while dealing with the loss of two children (she lost the weight in a healthy way, not through depression, but it was getting out of the depression and doing it in their memory that helped her do it), and she ran a marathon along the way.

    Thanks for bringing her to the Ball!

    I swear, I’m happier all the time to be on your friend list, E — you know the coolest people!

    • Thank you so much Deb Elise! I have never read Running with Angels, but I will certainly add it to my list ASAP.

    • Well, we know Skinny Emmie is cool, because she’s another E! Elise, I totally agree – I love her. Every day I get up and read her blog and think, ‘She has her eyes on the prize – I should, too.’ Amazing.

    • Thanks for coming by, Camille! I do so love Emily’s attitude – she’s so calm and directed. And okay, I’m a little envious of her determination, too!

    • Hi Camille- thanks for your kind words! I just subscribed to your blog. While I’m not a “M” I’d like to be the “WAH” part of the equation 🙂 Now I must go pre-order The Art of Forgetting…

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