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Setting realistic weight loss goals

Most of us often find ourselves busy with contemplating what we want for ourselves and some of us try to translate that into personal goals. For many people, losing weight tops the list. But unless you know how to set realistic and sustainable weight-loss goals, you may be tripping yourself from the get-go.

Let's get one thing perfectly clear here: There's no rule that says that you must lose weight just because everyone else seems to be making that a priority or because you believe that this is what is expected of you. For some people, such as those who have a history of eating disorders, the basic strategies for weight loss (eating fewer calories, exercising more, or both) might not be the healthiest choice, and they should check in with a specialised healthcare professional before making changes to their diet or workout routine. If you do want to start on weight-loss program, it is important to bear a few important things in mind. For one, setting your intentions and understanding your motivation for wanting to lose weight helps keep you focused on what you require and want out of the journey, so that you never lose sight of what matters most: your health and happiness. Plus, there's so much that goes into weight loss that we often don't think about or are not aware of. For example, how much sleep you get, your stress levels, and health issues such as medications and hormones all play important roles in losing and maintaining weight. There's a lot to take into account and no quick fix or magic bullet to give you lasting, sustainable transformation.

In layman’s terms: Losing weight takes knowledge, planning, commitment, and time. As a rule of thumb, if a program promises weight loss that seems extraordinarily fast, it’s most likely better to avoid. Most experts agree that losing more than 1kg per week is difficult to sustain and an unhealthy way to manage weight loss. By considering what’s healthy, where you’re at currently, and what it’s going to take to achieve your goal, you can figure out what a realistic and sustainable weight-loss goal is right for you.

If you set up your mind on losing weight, here’s how to set a realistic weight-loss target that you can actually follow through with as well as maintain once you’ve reached it.

  • Figure out your ideal body weight - Everyone has a different ideal body weight. Most medical calculations to assess ideal weight are based around height. However, this type of methods only provides you with a ballpark figure (pun meant). For a more accurate result, you should get a body composition scan which will help you find out how much adipose tissue (fat) you have and therefore what is your realistic (as well as recommended) fat loss potential. The scan will reveal some other important personal statistics, one of which is your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which I will mention bellow.  Once you’ve established that,


  • Understand what is required to get there - If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to achieve a calorie deficit. That means burning more calories than you consume. To do this, focus on changing both your diet and exercise regimes—just paying attention to one or the other isn’t going to give you the results you wish for.  To lose half a kilo per week, on average, you will need to reduce your weekly caloric intake by about 3,500 calories either by reducing food intake or by increasing energy expenditure. This means cutting 500 calories each day, by either eating less or moving more—ideally a combination of both, which will make it easier and more sustainable—you won’t feel deprived, and you’ll reap the many other benefits of regular exercise. To get a better idea of how many calories you should be eating each day to begin with, you need to figure out your basal metabolic rate. Your BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest, just by keeping your body running. You also have to factor in how many calories you’ll burn from exercise.


  • Set small goals which are realistic to you - When it comes to any goal, if it’s too big or too vague, it’s going to be harder to achieve. Someone may say that they intend to lose 25kg. That may be good as a long-term goal, but you need realistic short-term goals as well, to ensure you have check-in points along the way and reminders that you’re on the right track. It’s easier to become discouraged and decide to chuck in the towel if you don’t have mini successes to celebrate. Finding short-term goals is likely to keep you motivated to continue for the longer haul. These goals can even be things like “working out three days per week” or “making each meal 50 percent vegetables.” Even if these don’t translate to weight loss instantly, you can still be proud of the healthy foundation that you're laying down and the healthier habits that you’re adopting.



  • Be realistic about how long it is likely to take - The time it takes to lose weight depends on a multitude of factors, including, how much you weigh to begin with, your age, your gender and your lifestyle. They all play a significant role in determining how quickly you can shed your excess weight. Then, you should factor-in ‘pleasure’. “Some people hit plateaus. They tend to lose a couple of kilos in initial weeks of the program, and then when they are getting closer to their goal they seem to get stuck. It just really depends on your body. Generally, how quickly you lose weight depends on how much you have to lose—weight comes off faster when you’re heavier, and typically slows down as you lose weight. (Part of that is because initially we tend to lose water weight quickly.) Losing anywhere from half a kilo to a kilo a week can be healthy—any fewer or more, and you may need to re-evaluate your program.


It’s important to remember that it’s OK if it takes longer for the weight to drop off if that means it’ll stay off. If you lose 8kg in 4 weeks because you did something drastic, you’ll likely put it back on when you go back to your old habits. This is known as the ‘yoyo effect’.  At the end of the day, healthy eating, exercise and keeping your stress in check is really what works. We’re all looking for magic pill, but if that worked everyone would be thin, no one would have weight problems (and professionals such as myself would be unemployed). It’s not that easy. If it’s too easy and the weight’s flying off, you’re probably doing something that’s not sustainable.

Contact me for more information about a comprehensive tailor-made solution that will work for you.

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