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When the numbers aren’t working for you


From Jennifer Tuma-Young, author of Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale.

I am not a numbers person. I say, in order for us to continue to fully serve our mission and purpose in life, we have to be energized, vibrant, and healthy. But, of course, I realize that many women who want to lose weight focus on the number.

I’ve had a lot of women come to me with a goal of losing weight, but they are hopeless and frustrated by their “numbers-based” goals.

The way I look at it, once you have clarity (so you know who you are, what you stand for, how you are serving the world), you have a clearer vision of the big picture—and then you will naturally begin to create your own, flexible plan. Right?

The Balance Blocker – A Frustrating Goal
Many women cut right to the chase, making a plan based on a “numbers-goal,” such as:

I must lose X number of pounds a week.

I must wear a size X by the time I go to my class reunion.

I must drop X number of pounds in 30 days.

But because these goals are not action-oriented, “numbers-goals” can be EXTREMLY, RIP-YOUR-HAIR-OUT-OF-YOUR-HEAD FRUSTRATING!!

Flip Your Focus
I say, instead, flip your focus. Turn your former goal into merely one of many benefits. I know many women who set a weight loss goal—for example, to lose 2 to 3 pounds per week. But, as I mentioned, this can become frustrating and perhaps even detrimental to your health. I’ve known many women who have eaten very little food with little to no nutritional value (empty calories) in an effort to see the scale go down! Instead of focusing on losing weight alone, flip the focus to overall health and well-being. Focus on increasing energy, releasing stress, filling up on nutrient-rich, healthy food!

Allow weight loss to be one of many benefits of a healthy lifestyle—living with passion, confidence, and energy. Remember, you are magnificent. You do amazing things all of the time. Think about how you are making a difference in so many people’s lives. You are SO much more than a silly number on the scale. Ask yourself, how do I bring value to the world? What are my gifts? When do I feel like my “best self”?

Brain Dump
Once you are crystal clear about your value, brain dump the goals that are floating around your head to clear your mind, and then listen to what is whispering (or SHOUTING) from your heart. What are the things that you need to do to align with your best self, and move you forward? What are two actions you can take this week that are healthy inside and out?

It’s coming from deep within you—and you know what these things are.

These are small actions that make a huge difference. They can be the seemingly “little things,” but you’ve been so busy focusing on the “numbers” frustration, you haven’t thought about the simplicity in living a healthy life—eating whole, healthy, vibrant-colored fruits and vegetables, moving more, breathing deep, drinking water with fresh lemon, connecting with your loved ones, being compassionate toward yourself and others. I think you get my drift!

Instead of going right for the pounds, have an honest discussion with yourself and take action as if you are already the person you are envisioning. Once you take action, the person you were born to be emerges.

Tell a Story with a SMART Goal
By creating what I call “a story goal,” you are actually writing about your personal connection to the goal, and then giving yourself a task—something to do to bring value to your life. You can then use the SMART method to write your task so that your goal is very clear!

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timed

For example, a SMART story goal can be: “I love connecting with my friends through my art. So, I will create 5 pieces of jewelry this week to give to my friends. I also want to move my body more, so I will walk 4 days this week for 20 minutes, elevating my heart rate to at least 70 percent.”

Story – Connecting with friends through art / want to move body

  • Specific – Creating jewelry / walking
  • Measurable – 5 pieces / 4 days
  • Attainable – Yes
  • Relevant – Yes—connecting always relieves stress, which prevents “stress eating” and walking is good for my heart and body.
  • Timed – This week / 20 minutes

When you’re telling yourself exactly what you need to do, you’re removing the frustration of how you can do it. Once you complete the first part of the task, continue to write your SMART story goals, and you will see all of the benefits inside and out—and yes, that means on the scale, too!

But my hope is, you’ll feel so healthy and be so fulfilled, you won’t even care about the number!

Jennifer Tuma-Young is the author of Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale, now available from HarperOne. Visit her online at


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