When it comes to setting and achieving weight-loss goals, one of the most important things to remember is to make them realistic. Weight loss is no different — it takes planning, commitment, and time, especially if you need to identify and resolve any underlying health issues that may be contributing to weight gain.
Experts tend to agree that two pounds per week is a safe and realistic rate of weight loss (although you may experience periods where you shed weight quickly if you’re on a low-glycemic diet plan that causes you to use up your glycogen stores). Setting a goal that’s unrealistic or that doesn’t take your individual circumstances into account can only leave you feeling discouraged and ready to give up.
Before embarking on a new weight-loss plan, make sure you understand what you can realistically expect so that you can create goals that, while representing significant achievements, are also realistic.
- Get an idea of your ideal weight. There’s no magic number when it comes to your ideal body weight, but having an idea of your target weight will help you track your progress and set benchmarks along the way. Remember that body weight is subject to many factors, such as your height, frame size, and body composition. While 115 pounds may be perfect for your friend who’s only five feet tall, that number might not be realistic for your body. Start with a medical BMI chart to get an idea of what a reasonable number might be, and then take into consideration what you know about your body. A large-framed person probably falls into the higher end of the range for any given height, while a petite person with a very slender frame may fall into the lower end of the range. Know that whatever number you pick is a starting point. As you lose weight and build muscle, your body composition will continue to change, ad your ideal number may need to be adjusted.
- Be prepared for setbacks. It’s hard work to lose weight. If you’re like most people, you probably gained the extra weight over a period of several years, so don’t expect it to all disappear in a matter of weeks. Understand that creating new, healthy dietary and exercise habits that you can sustain long-term is essential to your success. Sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you, although DNA testing can help you identify certain habits that may work best with you individual genetic makeup. Remember that weight will sometimes fluctuate for reasons that have nothing to do with body fat, so don’t get discouraged if your weight stalls or temporarily creeps back up.
- Create achievable benchmarks. Rather than focusing on the end result, create a series of smaller goals that you can achieve more quickly — such as losing your first ten pounds or exercising three times in one week. Celebrate each of these achievements. The pride and excitement you will feel when you recognize small successes will keep you moving forward. At Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers, we make a point of celebrating these benchmarks with you (sometimes with free products and services!) and make sure that your meal plan is continually updated to account for changes in your weight.
- Commit to yourself. The journey to successful weight loss is a long-term commitment to yourself. You are making significant changes in your lifestyle. Recognize that this isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it — whether your goal is to improve your quality of life, reduce your medical bills, or extend your longevity so that you have more years to enjoy with your family, all that hard work will pay off in the end.
- Arrange accountability. It’s difficult to hold yourself accountable when you’re making lifestyle changes, so find a buddy to work with you. It’s best if you can find someone who’s also interested in losing weight and creating a healthier lifestyle, but any supportive friend of family member will work. Even if they aren’t actively trying to lose weight, they can help you with accountability by checking in with you and requiring you to check in with them. Set up a regular schedule for reporting in to them – even a quick text will do. When you’re faced with that box of donuts your co-worker left in the break room, you’ll find it easier to resist if you know you’ll have to report it to your accountability buddy at the end of the day.
Need help achieving your weight-loss and wellness goals? Garcia Weight Loss offers personalized weight loss programs designed to help you look and feel your best. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on March 8, 2018