STOP Focusing on Weight loss; Focus on Performance Improvements

Egis R.
5 min readOct 14, 2022
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“If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still succeed? For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results? I think you would.”

This quote from the Atomic Habits book by James Clear perfectly fits my point — if you want to lose weight, you need to take the focus off of weight loss and instead, focus on performance improvements.

Okay, a quick example.

A two-year study on subjects with an average eight-year history of being overweight and chronically yo-yo dieting examined weight loss outcomes by focusing on improving exercise performance rather than weight loss.

The researchers were all okay we are putting you on a hypocaloric (calorie deficit), high-protein (2.2 g/kg/day) diet and the subjects went er, but what about weight loss? How much weight are we gonna lose?

And the lab nerds were like fuck you and your weight loss goals (just more eloquently, of course) we are putting you on a three-day per week progressive and periodized resistance training program and you are going to focus on gym performance changes rather than oh I want abs so bad a.k.a weight loss.

Poor volunteers said ugh okay I guess in a tone that went distance way past hate and went to the gym to pump some iron.

Guess what? Doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you. Shifting focus away from weight loss to tangible things — getting stronger at squatting, deadlifting, leg pressing, bench pressing, etc. — was highly effective:

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The researchers concluded:

Periodized exercise focusing on performance changes, and not weight loss, may provide the stimulus necessary for long-term behavioral modification that is necessary for long-term changes to body composition, where the performance goals may induce a reward response and encourage continuation of exercise for longer durations than had previously attained.
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You see, the problem with focusing on weight loss as your end goal is that you become goal-oriented rather than process-oriented. This can be counterproductive because your actions are being dictated by something…

Egis R.

I’m Egis, an online weight loss coach who has heightened BS sensors for fitness & nutrition. Only evidence-based & sustainable fat loss.