We’ve all been there. Standing on your scale, staring at the number in horror, wondering how and when you went wrong. After the initial shock of weight gain, we grow determined and we set our weight loss goals. Perhaps you set these goals as December comes to an end, eager to get started on your New Year Resolution, or perhaps it happens in an instant.
Whatever the case, we all craft our weight loss goals with fervor and go for them with a burning desire. Pursuing weight loss with the end goal of a healthier you is commendable, but unless you set realistic goals, you might just be setting yourself up for failure. You might set the goal too high and discourage yourself in the long run or choose an unhealthy means to lose weight.
You may even set the goal too low and fail to maximize your full potential. So how do determine if your weight loss goal is realistic and if it isn’t, how do you go about setting an achievable goal for yourself?
Know Your Ideal Body Weight
It’s easy for you to declare that you want to weigh under a 100 pounds, but it’s another thing entirely to know whether your desired weight is actually good for you. A healthy or ideal body weight will differ from person to person, so knowing what that number is for you is your first step towards setting realistic weight loss goals.
There are several different formulas you can use to calculate for your ideal weight such as the Robinson formula, the Miller formula and the Hamwi formula, all of which will give you different numbers. If you find these formulas to be confusing, your ideal body weight can most easily be calculated by considering your height and gender. For women, the general rule of thumb is to start with 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height.
Ladies will then add 5 pounds to their ideal weight for every inch of height over 5 feet. For men, the base is 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height with 6 pounds added for every additional inch. Form here, you add and subtract 10 percent to account for the person’s small or large frame. This would mean that a woman who is 5 feet and 4 inches tall would have the ideal weight range of 108 to 132 pounds.
Identify Your Small and Big Rocks
If your weight loss goal includes wearing clothing that hasn’t fit you in 5 years or losing a huge amount of weight in a short period of time, chances are that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
It’s a common mistake that many people make, but the best way to avoid it is to set mini-goals, or small rocks, that you should hit during your journey to eventually meet your overall goal, or big rock. For example, if your morbidly obese, your big rock could be having a healthy BMI or losing more than half of your body weight. With this big rock in mind, you can then map out small rocks to achieve along the way such as cutting out unnecessary sugars from your diet, going for a 30-minute walk 3 times a week or joining a class that requires activity.
As you progress through your small goals, they should be more challenging. For example, you can make your small rock exercising 5 days a week instead of 3 days a week, or you can set a small goal of 2-pound weight loss per week once you’ve successfully gotten yourself into a routine of exercise and healthy eating. Having your small rocks in mind allows you to plan for the things you need to do to achieve your goals and, eventually, meet your overall goal.
Set A Reasonable Time Frame
While there’s no such thing as losing weight too fast, there is such a thing as setting time frames that are unreasonable for your goals. Let’s say you have given yourself a week to lose 10 pounds. Having a time frame like this is not only unrealistic, you’ll also likely stress yourself out and make unhealthy weight loss decisions in the process.
Sure, you can drop tons of weight in a week with a crash diet, but it deprives your body of the nutrition you need and you even run the risk of gaining twice the weight back once you return to regular eating habits. Most weight loss experts suggest that to lose weight in a safe, effective and reasonable time frame, you should set a conservative weekly goal of losing 1 – 2 pounds.
Choosing a realistic time frame allows you to cut your caloric intake down in a safe way (250 – 500 calories per day), and without causing more harm or injury to yourself. Remember that you need to be consuming a healthy amount of calories and nutrient dense food as well as exercising to lose weight at the appropriate speed for your body.
When in Doubt Consult a Physician
Individuals who are trying to drop a smaller amount of weight (like 10 to 15 pounds), can make simple lifestyle changes to achieve their goals easily, but for those who need to drop a serious amount of weight, like the morbidly obese, it’s always better to consult a physician before you start setting your goals or jumping into huge changes like high intensity exercises.
Indeed, losing the weight is necessary to get to a healthier place, but consulting with a physician helps you identify what your baseline is at the start of the journey. Depending on your overall health at the start of the process, your doctor may ask you to start incorporating exercise into your routine gradually so as not to injure yourself.
The doctor can also help you set realistic goals and walk you through what you can expect along the way. Getting a general physical is also a fantastic way to gauge how much of a difference your efforts are making in your life. For example, you might not see the number on the scale decreasing quickly, but your vascular health could have significantly improved or your blood pressure could be at a healthier place.