Forget Goal Setting, This Will Change Your Life

Being an overweight teen was no fun at all. I was made fun of, looked down upon, and had the lowest self-esteem imaginable.

I had no idea how to lose weight on my own, so I ended up asking my best friend who was a vegan to teach me how to eat.

I remember the two of us sitting on the couch in my parents’ living room. She asked me a series of questions about my food intake and wrote down ways to modify my diet.

To be honest, I don’t remember specifics of our conversation, but I do remember that I lost weight by reducing the portions I consumed, adding exercise, and removing my daily intake of potato chips. I lost 35 pounds over the course of one year.

I didn’t turn veggie at that point, but I do remember that I made a conscious decision to not just create a goal to lose weight. I decided to learn how to live differently in order to affect a lifetime of change.

What does that mean? It means I knew that in order to lose weight for good, I had to make systematic changes to my lifestyle.

The dictionary defines a system as “A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.”

So, in my example of wanting to lose weight and keep it off, my complex whole was an overweight body. The elements that created my overweight body were my poor self image, a family that overate, lack of exercise, bad snacking habits, and a lack of self discipline/vision.

I knew that I had to forever modify the elements that made up my complex whole in order to sustain my desired weight. In other words, I changed the things in my life that I felt made me fat.


  • First, I asked my mom to stop buying me potato chips, as they were (and still are) my greatest vice. To this day, I do not keep any munchies in my house, because I know I’ll eat them if they’re available to me.
  • Second, I modified the way I viewed meal time. Instead of it being a source of pleasure and community (because I always ate with my family or friends during school hours), I viewed food as a source of fuel for my body. An energy source, rather than a faithful stress reliever. I then challenged myself to view exercise as a source of pleasure and stress relief – and it worked.
  • Third, I recognized patterns at meal time that kept me unhappy with my weight and changed them completely. I stopped overeating, eating fried foods, eating too many sugary foods (breads, pastas, flour), not eating any fruit or salad/veggies.
  • Fourth, I started paying attention to calories on packages and didn’t allow myself to eat more than 1,200 calories each day. Here’s a calorie calculator to help you figure out how much energy you need to eat each day (if weight loss/gain is your desired change).
  • Fifth, Each time I recognized that I had an increased desire to eat, based on self-esteem issues or some type of internal stress/anxiety, I made a conscious decision to move that negative energy into action through weight lifting.
  • Sixth, The most important part of this was that I was absolutely determined to never get made fun of again by the crappy kids in my school. The vision of success that I held for myself helped me hold all of these elements together in my mind.
  • Seventh, If you’re feeling very brave, share your desired outcome with someone you respect and trust. Social pressure helps us stay on track, follow through on tasks, and stimulates others to be interested in your progress.

As the elements in my system changed, my life changed for the better…forever.

To your future,

About the Author

Josephine Bila

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I’m Josephine Bila, LMSW, a licensed social worker for you — the health seeker who craves an energized body, strong relationships, and the willpower to overcome any obstacle.

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