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!
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.
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.
I’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?