Just like any travel, the journey of dieting would become a lot easier and structured if you would have a map with you. And that is exactly the reason why your goal setting is important. You would have a clear direction and image of where you are headed.
But setting realistic weight loss goals is critical because a lot of people set goals which are neither attainable nor realistic.
Weight loss success can be ensured if you set goals that are likely to be achieved. And if its not the case, you would only be landing at frustration at the results that why you were not able to lose 100 pounds (45.36 kg) in 3 months.
Do you need to lose weight?
Sometimes, it is just a thought that we need to lose weight without considering if our bodies need this change or not. Ask yourself these questions and you would know if you really need to lose weight without any further research:
- Is my Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 25
- Whether your waist to hip ratio is higher than 1.0 for males and 0.8 for females?
- Is your waist more than 40 inches in case of men and 35 inches for women?
Apart from these numbers, if you have found that you get out of breath easily, your clothes are tighter than before and also if your weight on the scale has changed by a few kilograms, you should consider losing weight.
Is your weight loss goal realistic?
First thing that you need to understand is that our bodies age as we age. It will be unrealistic weight loss goal to get your youth weight back because probably in the past decade, your muscle mass and bones have changed in density and composition which is normal part of aging.
Secondly, sometimes people have already made a great progress but since they set unrealistic weight loss goals, they get frustrated with weight loss not being in sync with their expectations.
According to CDC and American College of Sports Medicine, your body can get health benefits from even a modest weight loss goal of 5 to 10 percent. At this weight loss, you would most probably see improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Therefore, someone who weighs 200 pounds (90.72 kg) can significantly decrease risk of obesity related diseases even by losing 20 pounds (9.07 kg), though he or she might still be overweight.
What is a healthy weight loss rate?
Now we know that we can initially set a target of 10 percent of weight loss, we also must understand that we can not lose this weight too fast because it might not be good for our health.
Both CDC and NHS recommend that a healthy weight loss rate is between 1 and 2 pounds (0.91 kilogram) per week. Anything faster and you increase your health risks associated with quick weight loss.
How to set SMART goals for weight loss?
There are different things which you can keep in mind to set realistic weight loss goals. Briefly, your goals for losing weight, just like other life goals should have four characteristics:
- Time bound
Most people trying to lose weight make mistakes by setting weight loss goals which lack any of these components of success.
Start with short term weight loss goals. You are more likely to follow through to achieve your goal if you set a target of losing 5 to 10 pounds (4.54 kilogram) than if you go after losing 50 pounds (22.68 kg).
In fact, you can achieve your weight loss goals indirectly by setting goals which are linked with your behavior.
For example, staying hydrated is one of the effective strategies for losing weight. Therefore, you may set a goal to drink 8 glasses of water every day for one week.
This is a perfect example of an attainable goal, can be easily measured and is very specific. Some factors are linked with weight loss might not be in your control, for example your genetics and metabolism rate, but your behaviors are completely in your control.
Other behavioral goals you can set may be eating more vegetables and fruits, keeping a journal of your diet and regular physical activity. If you make progress against these behavioral goals, you are sure to make progress to losing weight and get healthier.
Most people consider dieting to be a short term effort. It is therefore, important that you set realistic weight loss goals which keep you motivated enough to follow through with action. Achieving these goals will make you more confident about accomplishing your goals and you are more likely to stick to your diet.
Goal setting is a great tool to keep yourself stay on track. By setting your weight loss goals too broad or unrealistic, you are setting yourself up for failure from the start.
One parting tip is to take care of your sleep. According to research, those people who sleep late and wake up late after 10:45 a.m. eat about 248 more calories than people who sleep early. Interestingly they are also likely to eat half as many vegetables and fruits and double the amount of fast food than those who wake up earlier.