It’s no surprise, the majority of people who start a new exercise program do so because they want to lose weight – weight loss goals are often the first – and only – fitness goal set. If your only motivation to exercise is weight loss, you can easily find yourself frustrated and wanting to give up when progress is slow or hits a plateau. The scale is just one indicator of how healthy you are becoming, and it can sometimes overlook the changes happening in your body. That is why setting goals beyond weight loss are important if you are going to stick with a fitness or weight loss program for the long term.

Setting goals that don’t focus on weight loss can actually help you reach your desired weight-loss goal. For example, if you focus on getting stronger, you will likely gain lean muscle mass, which will speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight.  Or setting a goal like walking with a friend a few days a week or taking your dog hiking every weekend will keep you active and does not rely on what a scale says to keep you motivated. Over time, you’ll be more consistent with exercise, burn even more calories and, of course, lose more unwanted fat.

Here are five types of goals that often lead to weight loss and better health, without focusing on the scale.

  1. Performance Goals: Learn to run your first 5 km, perform 10 push-ups from your toes, dead lift your body weight, etc.
  2. Real-Life Goals: Change the 5-gallon water jug, climb the stairs without getting winded, play with your kids or grand kids at the park without getting tired, etc.
  3. Health Goals: Reduce your blood pressure, improve your fasting glucose levels, improve your cholesterol levels, etc. Make sure you talk with your health care provider to figure out what reasonable improvements can be achieved.
  4. Movement Goals: Walk during your lunch break four times per week for 30 minutes, practice yoga for 10 minutes every morning, get up from your desk to walk around the office once every hour, etc.
  5. Feel-Good Goals: Go to bed at a consistent time every night, cultivate a more positive attitude, practice more gratitude, reduce stress, etc.

Wanting to look better or lose weight is perfectly fine, but if you’re constantly focused on that goal at the cost of all the other improvements, you might find yourself frustrated. Remember to stay focused on how your health and mindset are improving, because these changes are just as important as the amount of weight you lose.