How long have you tried to lose weight? Your whole life? Have you tried every diet out there? That’s not the way to get lasting realistic results.
Even if you’re just looking at weight loss for the first time, you need to make sure your expectations are in line. How do you do that? You set realistic weight loss goals.
Too many people fail because they set goals that are impossible, then give up when they don’t reach them. Others fail because they look at weight loss as a one-time fix and not a lifestyle change.
Others fail because they don’t feel like they have any support. Don’t worry, we have ways to combat all that.
Read on for our guide to lasting weight loss goals.
Know What’s Possible
Except in extreme cases, it’s unrealistic to lose more than ten pounds a month. Now this varies depending on the amount of weight you have to lose.
If you’re seriously overweight this could be more. When you make lifestyle changes at a higher weight, they have more impact at first.
Realistically, you should aim to lose about two pounds per week. That’s a safe and realistic number. Any more than that and you’re likely to bounce right back up or give up because you can’t reach your goals.
Find Your Goal Weight
The next thing you need to think about is your goal weight. Losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint.
To find your goal weight, do this simple exercise. If you don’t know the numbers off the top of your head, call your doctor- they have recorded measurements.
Take a deep breath and get a piece of paper and a pen. Write down three weights: your lowest, a good middle ground, and the highest you’ve ever been.
Your middle weight is where your body likes to hang out without you needing to exert too much effort. If you’ve had a period of time you felt happy with your body but you could relax about losing weight, pick that time.
Then, take about five pounds off that middle weight. Aim to stay there.
You can look at guides like the BMI scale, but BMI isn’t a good measurement. It was created by an insurance salesman, it has no medical backing.
People use it because it’s accessible. A better idea is to get a handheld body-fat calculator or talk to your doctor. If they feed you a BMI number, ask why that’s a good range.
Take your muscle mass into consideration. How strong are you? Muscle increases your weight but in a healthy way. It’s better to have five pounds of muscle than five pounds of fat.
This is especially important with BMI. The BMI scale has no way to calculate or account for muscle mass.
Use a Calculator for Timed Goals
Ok, now that you have your goal weight look realistically at how long it’ll take you to get there. If you lose a pound and a half per week, it’ll take you thirty-three weeks to get to your goal.
Some weeks you’ll lose more and some you’ll lose less. Even if you’re doing the same thing! Our bodies respond to stress and environmental factors differently on the scale.
Water weight and temporary plateaus are another reason to take measurements. Sometimes it looks like your weight isn’t budging. Or maybe it went up a few pounds?!
It’s ok, it’s likely water weight or muscle. Take measurements, they’re much more reliable than stepping on a scale.
If you want to track your weight, look for a smart scale that calculates fat percentages. There are lots of cool options on the market these days.
You can even get a handheld body fat calculator. It sends an undetectable electric wave through your body.
The time and response of the electric wave depends on fat cells, so it can tell you what percent of your body weight is fat. If you’re doing a muscle strengthening workout program, this is a better choice than the scale.
Set Mini Goals
Your big goal weight is important, but you need to set goals along the way. Don’t punish yourself until you reach your goal weight, celebrate along the way!
Once you lose ten pounds or two inches, however, you’re measuring, take yourself out. People losing weight tend to avoid food-based rewards, but there’s no reason not to have a treat now and then.
Other ideas are nail or hair treatments, new clothes, or piercings if you’re into that.
Set Process Goals
Process goals aren’t about what the measurements or the scale says. It’s about how you’re getting there.
For example, you could reward yourself for a week without soda. Or for getting all your workouts in for two weeks straight.
These help you focus on making lifestyle changes and not obsess about numbers. Once you don’t drink soda for a week, can you go for two?
That’s how you create lasting habits!
Realistic Weight Loss
In reality, you’re not going to love every minute of losing weight. You’ll have bad days and good days with everything in between.
The trick to not getting discouraged is to avoid black and white thinking. If you have something you’re avoiding, that doesn’t mean the whole day is down the drain.
Don’t binge because “you’ve already ruined it.” Make healthy choices and go on with your day like you would any other day.
No realistic weight loss goal was derailed because of one cookie someone ate at a meeting. It’s derailed if you binge-eat the whole box because you never treat yourself.
Be kind to yourself and find the foods you like to eat. Nourish your body with motions that are fun to do.
You’ll get there, but you have to live your life along the way.