Non-"Diet" Goals (that aid in loss of excess body fat while improving health)

After “dieting” for forty-two years (since the age of 13) all I’ve managed to do is gain a billion pounds.

Given my (ahem) great failure at dieting, I’m considering a new approach I’ve been reading about: setting non-dieting goals that, as a side-effect, result in less body fat and greater health. In other words, by taking the focus off of the failure (and for me, all attempts at dieting have resulted in abject failure on a colossal scale – pun definitely intended) can reframe the entire endeavor back towards something positive.

Goals (refresher for all of us here) should be concrete or specific, have a time-line, and be measurable. Just saying, “I’d like to be healthier” is an admirable aspiration, but it’s not a goal for the sake of this discussion.

Here are some goals that I’ve written up so far. Do you have any to suggest that would help? Perhaps some that you’ve already used in your own life to good effect?

  1. Wear my pedometer daily and add 5% more steps per week until I reach my goal of averaging walking 10,000 steps per day, six days per week.

  2. Over the next three months, continuously adjust my carb intake, calorie intake, insulin dosages and exercise level until I achieve an HbA1C below 6.5 (that is, 6.4 or less).

  3. Over the next six months, continuously adjust my carb intake, calorie intake, insulin dosages and exercise level until I achieve an HbA1C below 6 (that is, 5.9 or less).

  4. Learn one new low-carb, low-calorie recipe each week, focusing on new salads, new dishes made with organic, multi-colored low-glycemic vegetables and upgrades or reworks of my favorite dishes that cut the calories and/or carbs by at least one-third to one-half (success example: faux garlic mashed “potato” made from cauliflower.)

  5. Keep track of “sitting screen time” outside of work in a log and reduce “sitting screen time” 5% per week until I achieve a total screen time of no more than one hour on week nights and no more than three hours on weekends or holidays (e.g. for weekend/holiday – one movie and an hour to do e-mail or internet), redirecting the “screen time” into activities that involve moving my body, learning new skills and being social, e.g.: going for walks, stretching, yoga or tai chi, learning classical guitar, practicing sign language, going out to meet friends, etc.

  6. Do one “tech-free weekend” per month for the next twelve months: home computer OFF from bed-time Thursday until Monday after work.

  7. Take one new exercise/activity class per quarter at the local community center over the next year (four new quarterly classes total), e.g. belly dancing, tai chi, yoga, stretching, etc.

  8. Set an Outlook reminder in my work computer and stand up and walk to the kitchen to refill my water glass every hour on the hour as long as I am at work.

  9. Find an area of the work parking lot that is 2x further from my office than I am currently parking and park there three days per week for the first month, four days per week the second month, and every day for the third month. Re-evaluate this distance after three months and consider increasing the distance further if possible.

  10. As a reward and inspiration, incorporate one new fitness-related tool or toy into my life each month. Examples: heart-rate monitor watch, improved pedometer, new exercise app for my iPhone, new walking shoes, new dance/exercise video, hiking stick, hip-band with pockets for diabetic supplies and water bottles, winter hiking boots, etc.

I have a dear friend who is obese. He seems like you, tried everything, including medically supervised fasts. In the end, it never helped. So he decided he would try to just be fit and healthy. And in some sense, that is what really matters. Nobody should want to be stick thin and be unfit and unhealthy. And that is what he does. He plays tennis every day. He has become a truly devastating player. He may be obese, but he is quite healthy and fit.

Best of luck.

Thanks, yeah I’ve tried the medically supervised fasts three different times over the decades, along with vegan, macrobiotic, Pritikin (twice), WeightWatchers (six times?), JennyCraig (twice), Ornish, Atkins (three times), McDougall, “clean” eating (several versions), etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Thousands of dollars on counselors, dietitians, books, gyms and workshops, thousands of hours of effort, millions of drops of blood, sweat and tears and here I am forty-two years after my first diet, a broken woman with ten times more excess body fat than when I started that diet innocently at the age of 13.

If I focus on being as active and healthy as possible, I feel less crazy-obsessed-devastated. If I count calories I go right over the edge into madness. Counting carbs is border-line. I can only do it if I focus on needing to do it to calculate my insulin dose, and I still “forget” to do it all the time because I HATE IT.


I am in awe of your friend – if I could play tennis for even five minutes I’d be the happiest girl on earth.

Re the goals w/ the pedometer, it might be useful to work to “find endorphins” instead of “increasing the number of steps”? Sometimes steps can be bound up w/ stress but if you look for the “flow” (there’s a cool book called Flow that we read for TKD) it’s less quantifiable but might allow success you can feel, even if psychosomatically?

I hope you want honest answers, because that is the only kind I can give you. I look at your plan and find it overwhelming. For me, if I could do even ONE of those things consistently, it would be a victory. So I am concerned that you might get overwhelmed, too – although you might be a lot stronger-willed than I am.

If it does turn out to be overwhelming, you might consider prioritizing those goals and approaching them one at a time. I think they are ALL inspiring, and thinking about applying them to myself, I would choose the yoga or tai chi (or in my case, possibly Pilates). (I have a friend who is quietly and persistently urging me to try Pilates)

So, I would like to see you succeed, and only you know how much you can handle, and I will be thinking about you. :slight_smile:

I agree with Natalie, you have a lot on your list that you want to accomplish – you want to set goals, but don’t make them too hard to achieve. Back in my younger, I could move better days, I decided to start running. My first day out, I couldn’t even make it to the corner. I decided that every day I would go further, even if it was only one step further. I would mark a crack in the sidewalk or a tree or something where I stopped. The next day, I made myself go at least one step further. Some days that one step was all I could do and other days, I could make it a little further down the block. I was elated when I broke my first mile and I eventually even made it to running 10 miles a day.

Instead of saying 5% a week more on your pedometer, why not just say go further than the day before, even if it is only 1 step further – that way if you hit a “tired” period, you aren’t pushing yourself too hard. If you have a good day, you can add what you can. If you are having a bad day, you went one step further than what you did the day before. Your goal can still be those 10,000 steps but you will do it at pace that your body can handle.

Instead of making it one new exercise class, why not do something you really want to do – you are more apt to stick to something you actually enjoy.

I just saw this program posted on another board in an eye strain discussion. I went back to find it – maybe it can be of use (it is free). You can set breaks and it supposedly has little exercises you can do.

Hi Jean. I heartily agree with all the others. You could make a mantra for yourself, something meaningful to you–one step at a time; one day at a time; one goal at a time. Make it something achievable, give yourself no ultimatums. Good luck; you can do it.

These are ideas for measurable, trackable goals, Natalie. Don’t worry, dear heart, I couldn’t possibly do all of them even if I wanted to. I might phase in several over time, but I won’t be starting them all the first week – that way madness lies. ;0)

I like the idea of flow…but I worry that I’d flow right back into my bed and stay there, you know?

I’ll track down the book, though, and give it a read. I appreciate the suggestion.

Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out. I like the “go one step further” idea. That’s what I did when I lived in Santa Barbara: I would pick a tree to walk to before I turned back, and after a few days of walking to that tree, I’d pick another tree or bush or mailbox a bit further (maybe half a block further) and walk to that before I turned. If you go the same route every day, that technique really works. I’ve also done the thing where you walk a certain time and then turn back. With the pedometer being an “all day, everywhere” tool, I thought I’d just increase the steps every week by a small amount…but yes, going even one step further than the day before is a good fallback position for days when I’m feeling mopey and tempted to give up. is the book, you will see why I didn’t toss the author’s name out there11

Since you have the pedometer, you don’t have to worry about the same route. Good luck!

That’s a great book!! :smiley:

Thanks! I just ordered it on Amzn. That name’s a whopper, huh?

Thanks, y’all are so kind and supportive. ;0)

I just tried to walk on the beach with my big walking stick to help me stay vertical, but silly me, it’s a gorgeous day in Seattle (the kind of day we’re not really supposed to tell outsiders about, lest the think we’re all liars about the rain, rain, rain…heh) but I could get anywhere near the beach because everyone else had the same idea. Instead I drove up to the tippy-top of Golden Gardens park and walked on the trails up top (I could go down from there, but I’d never get back up…eeep! I stayed up top and admired the doggies in the dog park.) There are always challenges with fitness; the trick I expect is to simply NEVER give up, no matter what.

Hi Jean, I will not tell anyone that it is a gorgeous day in Seattle, except perhaps my dogs. They have to keep walking and exercising in this hot weather, not their favorite weather with their double coats, and they would empathize with your effort to keep fit with challenges. Ah, wish I could join you on that perch on the top of the park!


I can tell you’re a software engineer. When faced with a large intractable problem break it down into manageable chunks and and attack it one piece at a time. Stubbornness is useful in debugging code and in getting your A1C where you want it to be. Keep after it you’ll get there.

Thanks for the LOL. ;0) You have me pegged.

In my work, my motto for the past eighteen years or so has been:

“Never let a computer win.”

Living biological systems are, of course, several orders of magnitude more complex AND more fragile than software, which is lovely and maddening all at the same time.

Thanks for the idea. I do think it would be better to have support “in person” but right now I will rely on TuDiabetes while I’m working to get the basics of diabetes self-care down – I have found this group to be invaluable (!!!) to helping me get my A1C down to 7.4 (most recent) from the 9’s and 10’s before.

It would be so nice to be able to meet in person, look one-another in the eye and share a hug now and then, too, wouldn’t it? It would be especially great if there was a group leader (perhaps a CDE who is also a diabetic? or a mental health counselor who is also working to improve their health) to help lead discussions and pipe down any tempest in a teapot that brew up. I have not yet found such a group.

Then again, there is something about the anonymity of the interwebs that allows us to speak about sensitive things with candor and without too much shame, eh? I’m not sure that I’m ready to admit to a room full of strangers that sometimes I “forget” that I’m diabetic, despite being on insulin and having been diagnosed almost ten years ago. (Blush!!!)