A goal without a plan is a dream. We all have dreams… But how many of them turn into reality? That’s right, unless it’s planned, it’s unlikely to happen. You could argue they could come true on their own, but I wouldn’t rely on luck too much these days. I’m a big dreamer myself, I regularly daydream about many things: a future promotion, a future celebration, a future success of any sort… I think the main thing is actually to be aware you need to turn these dreams into goals in order to make them happen. One of my dreams was to get healthier and feel great in my own skin. It took me some time to put a solid plan in motion. But once I started, I became unstoppable because I was focused. I lost 25 kg in less than 8 months and achieved my goal.
The difference between dreams and goals
A dream is something that inspires you. It’s something created from your imagination, most of the time related to the future. A dream is like a wish, or a hope something will happen someday. You can be or achieve anything in your dreams, nothing is impossible in your mind.
A goal brings you down to reality. It’s something tangible and concrete, with a plan to make it happen. Its costs you time and energy, your imagination won’t be enough. The difference seems super clear! But then why are they often confused with one another?
This is key to understand why so many people never accomplish their dreams. They just forget to set clear goals for themselves. How to make the distinction between dreams and goals:
Dreams allow you to create whatever your mind wants, regardless of what’s actually possible
Dreams give you an easy escape from the real world, instantly
Because dreams are imaginary, they don’t produce tangible results
Goals require you to take action, in a specific and consistent way
Goals have deadlines and they require hard work
Because goals are based on reality, they produce results
So how do you make sure a dream can be turned into a goal, and then into a reality? Reaching a goal is a matter of effort and focus, it’s a conscious decision. Below the well-known S.M.A.R.T. technique in order to set the right goals:
Specific – Set up a nice, firm and objective goal that is unambiguous in nature.
Measurable – If you can measure it, you can easily see if you’re on track or if you need to adjust your plan.
Attainable – Take into account your current situation and set realistic expectations for yourself. If it helps, break down your goal into smaller ones!
Relevant – Don’t ignore the social conditions and current events in your life which may go against your goal. It will save you a lot of frustration.
Time-based – This is when you want to achieve your goal by, like your own time limit.
Are you more of a dreamer or a go-getter?
You’re a dreamer if you:
Use the word “someday” rather than more specific terms
Allow yourself to go on exciting adventures when you close your eyes
Prefer getting lost in your imagination rather than face reality
You’re a go-getter if you:
Have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish
Break things down easily into practical steps
Know what you want and are determined to be successful
One might come more naturally, while the other requires more conscious cultivation. We can all be either, depending on the situation. The idea is to ask yourself if you’re more of a dreamer or a go-getter for a specific thing you want, not in general. For example, I’m a go-getter when it comes to my own health but I’m also a dreamer when it comes to moving to Singapore. One day… Maybe!
Why dreams are as important as goals
Goals can change your life. But before they do, dreams are what inspire you. They are the starting point, this very first step which is absolutely crucial. If you make sure you don’t stay stuck at that stage, dreams are actually very important too! Don’t be scared to dream big… As long as it’s something you can turn into reality. Visualise your objectives by closing your eyes and imagine how you would feel once you’ve achieved your goal. Having a dream also contributes to your wellbeing. Plan it out as if it’s going to happen. Personally, I think taking the time to dream is what makes the difference when it comes to overall happiness. Take the chance to just sit and dream, let your mind wander, breathe and let yourself relax. And then simply remember this: if dreams don’t usually come true… goals do!
“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
So which of your dreams do you need to change into a goal?
I started this blog with a weight goal in mind and the determination to become the best version of myself. The pandemic opened my eyes to how important it was to respect my body and keep it healthy. Whilst many people understandably put on weight during lockdown, I decided to go against the flow and do the opposite. I didn’t just want to lose weight, I wanted to completely revisit my eating habits for good. I was willing to change whatever needed to change by playing the long game.
In the past, I lost weight by going to the gym every day, I didn’t pay much attention to my nutrition. I really liked the vibes of an intense session, with a trainer who made me sweat like crazy. But gyms were closed pretty much all year so it wasn’t possible to go to classes during lockdown. I could have kept active by simply following videos on YouTube but I need a “real” coach. And I’m not a runner either… So I decided to focus on what I put in my mouth instead! After all, it’s the very first thing you need to prioritise for a healthy and sustainable weight loss.
As good as exercise is for you, it won’t help much without dietary modifications. With this post, I’m not saying you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. I’m saying you can still lose weight even if you’re not really active. Because a good diet is key.
1. I started with a simple calorie counting approach
It’s not about becoming obsessed with the number of calories contained in each food you put in your mouth. But I do think it’s necessary to be aware of all hidden calories you consume without even realising. An extra spoon of oil when you cook, some more sauce added with your meal, one more glass of alcohol… It quickly accumulates and before you know it, you’re already above your calorie budget. The rule is simple (calories out must be greater than calories in) but you need to do the maths right with the correct information. If you haven’t followed my blog from the start, this post will give you more detail about My Weight Loss Journey: Past Failures & Current Plan. By just being more careful with meal portions and cutting out unnecessary snacks, I lost 7 kg within the first 2 months.
2. I then discovered intermittent fasting
It’s actually thanks to my blog, or should I say, thanks to one of my readers, that I first heard of intermittent fasting. I mentioned I didn’t need much for breakfast (just a cup of tea with some honey), so he suggested maybe I didn’t need it at all. Truth is I had “something” in the morning because I’ve been told all my life to never skip a meal. Now I realise I don’t need to eat 3 times a day. That’s the reason why adopting such a different habit was so easy for me! It felt right from the start and gave my weight loss a lot more consistency. Combining intermittent fasting with a healthy diet helped me lose another 10 kg in the next 3 months.
This to me is the last piece of the puzzle. I wouldn’t say going vegan is what helped me lose the remaining 8 kg to reach my objective. But cutting out meat and dairy significantly helped reduce my calorie intake. Note: being vegan doesn’t mean being healthy. You can go vegan and have a terrible diet! What I wanted was to adopt a healthy plant-based diet and drastically increase my consumption of fruits and vegetables. It allows me to feel full for longer and naturally suppresses cravings. I also discovered many more delicious and healthy meals. Truth is I’ve never been more excited about food than since I made that decision!
To sum up what I’ve been doing since lockdown (and will keep doing from now on): keep a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables, replace meat and dairy with healthy alternatives for proteins and calcium, and no eating when not hungry. Intermittent fasting gave me more consistency throughout the day, I skip breakfast because I don’t need it and I stop eating after 7pm. This combination of things gave me the results below.
Current situation end of March 2021 (8 months later)
Weight: 60 kg | Result: -25 kg
BMI: 22 | Result:-9.2
Body fat: 24 % | Result: -13.90 %
Waist size: 70 cm (or 27.5 inches) | Result:-24 cm (or -9.5 inches)
I am now back to a healthy weight and reached my goal of 60 kg, no need to mention how good it makes me feel! You can accomplish anything if you’re willing to commit to it. No excuses, only results. But this is not over, it’s never going to be over. The part to focus on now is weight maintenance – Let’s keep the weight off! Learning from my mistakes, I am not going to go back to my previous unhealthy lifestyle. The changes I made in my routine are here to stay.
I usually don’t take many pictures of myself but I found a selfie from August last year that grabbed my attention… It was a selfie with our youngest cat Luna (she was a kitten by then) and I realised my face had a much rounder shape back then, compared to today. So I reproduced the same picture (obviously Luna has grown since!) and you can see the difference of my face before and after losing 25 kg:
Summary & Weight Loss Tips
What to keep in mind:
The more overweight you are, the easier it is to lose the first kilos! You just need to make a start.
Small changes can have big impacts in the long run: reducing alcohol consumption, skipping starters at restaurants, avoiding unnecessary snacks, etc
It’s almost certain you are going to face a weight loss plateau at some point. Do not use it as an excuse to give up!
It’s OK to ask for support to stay motivated, involve friends and family, or even social media if it helps keeping you accountable for progress.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, you will have to test and see what works for you.
Remember all changes in your lifestyle need to be permanent, not temporary. Otherwise, your weight loss will not be sustainable…
Focus on healthy food you already like and limit your consumption of unhealthy food. It’s not about suppression, it’s about moderation.
Remember to stay hydrated and drink a lot of water!
Hit the pillow. A good sleep routine helps with weight loss, as you will be more prone to make bad decisions if you feel tired.
Your body is not replaceable, the food you give it is fuel. The better the fuel, the better it works (a bit like a car…).
Eating well is the best way to show your body the respect it deserves, it will give it back to you!
What NOT to do:
Don’t associate weight loss with frustration, or you will develop an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s OK to crave chocolate sometimes! As a general rule, try to stick to min. 80% healthy / max. 20% “pleasure” foods. Related post: Why a Healthy Mind Is Key to Successful Weight Loss
Don’t completely suppress your favourite foods from your diet. That would put them even more on a pedestal, so give in to temptation, just in smaller quantities.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Weight loss takes time and effort, it doesn’t happen overnight…
Don’t ignore hidden calories! Do you realise how many calories an extra spoon of oil contains for example? Calories in drinks are also easy to overlook (sodas, alcohol…), so don’t forget to take them into account.
I also previously shared some tips about how to stay motivated during your weight loss, because the journey will be full of obstacles. Focus on WHY you’re doing it: you make choices, not rules. If you’re not satisfied with your weight, I hope my story will inspire you. And if you know people who would benefit from reading it, don’t hesitate to spread the word! Health is a serious topic and very much a global issue worth fighting for.
We would all agree 2020 is not the best year we’ve ever had… It didn’t start well for me when I was in Sydney for NYE, with bushfires impacting wildlife in Australia and making the sky look grey and grim. Surrounded burning forests affected the air we were breathing in the city, it was not possible to ignore it. That was nothing compared to what followed though, or maybe it was only the beginning of the consequences of human actions on the planet.
It’s only fair I give you a bit of context so you can get to know me a bit better. I quit my job late 2019 without anything else lined up, I wanted to leave the office for a while and follow my free spirit instead. The plan was to travel for 6 months (to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Japan) and then come back to London to find myself a new job and settle back in. I know that nothing usually happens as planned in life, you always bump into unexpected things… But it’s fair to say I didn’t see a worldwide pandemic coming.
Throwback to how the pandemic impacted my plans
18th March 2020
My last day in New Zealand felt a bit strange… The worldwide pandemic was all over the news with an increasing infection rate and I felt guilty publishing pictures of the beautiful landscapes I had in front of me. Unlike in Europe, Kiwis were not yet panicking and although some pharmacies displayed “masks + antibacterial gel out of stock”, most people didn’t behave differently.
19th March 2020
I thought we would be able to stay a few days in Fiji doing absolutely nothing at all, just staying near the swimming pool under the sun with a good book to read and a nice cocktail in hand (away from social media and depressing news). Travelling can be quite tiring and I was really looking forward to this mini holiday in between. It didn’t turn out as planned, obviously. The island saw its first case the day after we arrived and everything shut down in an attempt to limit the spread. What I hoped would be a nice and short break turned out to be 3 long weeks stranded in a depressing apartment near a closed airport where no plane was allowed to take off. The longest weeks of my life, as far as I can recall…
7th April 2020
Who would have thought Mother Nature could be our saviour?? Yep, the only reason why the Fijian Government finally accepted to let their brand new planes fly was to protect them from a strong cyclone coming up… Who better than trapped tourists to help support the costs? I can safely say I never spent so much time in a plane without watching any movies. I stayed still for the entire trip (roughly 20 hours from Nadi to London with a stopover at Los Angeles), didn’t touch anything, didn’t remove my mask, limited my trips to the loo. Also, I barely slept.
8th April 2020
It never felt so good to be back in London. “Home” is where you want to be when the world is in crisis. But it was not the same London I remembered from when I left 6 months ago… It was like I missed the beginning of the story, I didn’t experience the “panic” over loo rolls in supermarkets, I just arrived in the middle of a national lockdown and no idea how to behave.
2020: Not so great so far
Fair to say the beginning of 2020 made me want to skip the rest of the year and jump straight to 2021. Back in April I really thought the virus would be gone by the end of the year… Not sure if it was optimistic or just terribly naïve. We’re almost in October now and it’s sadly very much still here. So how long will it last? Who knows. There is only one thing I know: I can still focus on what I can control.
What I can control
I can control the focus I want to give to my health. Many said they’ve put on weight during lockdown, the consumption of biscuits in the UK has increased drastically over the last few months and clearly it’s easy to turn to comfort food to help you cope with emotions. Being unhealthy is not what you want to be though, now more than ever is the time to prioritise your wellbeing. So I’m thinking, why not using my extra time at home to change my lifestyle for good?
My plans for the rest of the year (and beyond)
I’ve been back from my travels for 6 months now and things are not improving anytime soon, this is why I decided to start this blog today. I want to write about various topics related to self-improvement: health topics in general with a particular focus on mental health and weight loss, but also environmental issues and travel.
2020 will be the year I planned to come back to health. I have a current situation (with a BMI at almost 29, I’m overweight), a goal (I want to be back to a healthy 60kg) and a target date (Valentine’s Day 2021 – I’m a hopeless romantic). Stay tuned for updates! 🙂