How to Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals
Getting started with a weight loss plan can be challenging, but setting realistic goals is the best way to make progress. You may go on numerous diets or try various exercise routines, but you won’t see any results if your objectives are unattainable.
Unfortunately, millions of people worldwide fail to lose weight by having unrealistic expectations that are not feasible within a specific timeframe. As a result, you may become frustrated, disappointed, and feel like you've failed, which can sabotage your weight loss goal entirely.
In the following sections, we’ll share some tips and tricks that can help you along on your journey to getting your ideal weight.
Why Is it Important to Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals?
Setting achievable fitness goals has numerous benefits. First and foremost, trying to lose a lot of weight in a short period is not healthy or safe. Instead, you should aim to drop one to two pounds (0.4 kg–0.9 kg) each week.
Over time, even small steps add up to significant progress. Moreover, losing weight slowly and steadily makes you less likely to experience unwanted side effects, such as weakened muscles and loose skin.
Focusing on improvement rather than perfection is also important. Little progress is still progress — this is a journey rather than a destination. There will be ups and downs along the way, but perseverance is what matters most.
Aside from that, you need to develop a strategy. For instance, this may include changes to your diet and determining a calorie goal for weight loss. You may also start exercising regularly and seek support from family and friends. Don’t forget to be flexible and adapt your plan if necessary, as every person's weight loss journey is unique.
Characteristics of Realistic Fitness Goals
Before you start any weight loss program, setting initial (short-term) and long-term goals (approximately one year from now) is vital. Even more important is to plan realistically, and the SMART method can help you do that. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound objectives.
- Specific — This is a stepping stone to goal-setting. It means you must clearly define how much weight you want to lose and how you plan to do it. What’s more, your weight loss goal must be simple and realistic enough to motivate you to take action. Otherwise, you will fail to achieve it. An excellent example of a clearly defined objective is ‘’I want to lose 3 inches (7.6 cm) of my waistline’’ or ‘’I want to walk 6 miles (9.6 km) at a challenging pace.’’
- Measurable — Determining how you will track your weight loss progress is another important aspect of this journey. Since measuring your weight on a scale is not enough, consider monitoring your BMI, waist circumference, exercise performance, and other body composition values.
- Attainable — A crucial question to ask yourself is whether you have time, motivation, and resources to reach your goal. Consider if your work schedule allows you to visit the gym several times a week. Ideally, your objective should align with your lifestyle and routine. Additionally, you should remain motivated throughout the process. For instance, we all know that wishing to shed 20 lb (9.7 kg) in one week is not achievable. In contrast, try losing 2 lbs; upon reaching that goal, you will aim to lose another two. The success you experience will keep you driven throughout the entire process.
- Realistic — Your goal can be ambitious but achievable. You may, for example, decide to cut down on chocolate, sugar, and all sweets despite being someone who genuinely enjoys these foods. This is not a realistic aim, so replacing sweets with fruit is a much better option. Then, you can choose to gradually reduce your sweets intake when it feels reasonable to do so.
- Time-bound — It is best to set a deadline for your goal and then break it up into smaller targets, as this will help you stay on track. A weight loss tracker app and taking weekly measurements will allow you to keep a record of how far you have come. Therefore, give yourself a deadline of how much you want to lose in, say, six months, set smaller goals along the way, and weigh/measure yourself regularly.
How to Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals
Changing your lifestyle and health habits is essential to lasting, long-term weight loss. But how do you do that? Considers following these steps:
- Eat nutritionally dense food — Eliminate trans fats from your diet, and start consuming foods rich in nutrients, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and fish. Consider creating a meal plan consisting of 50% fruit and vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% whole grains.
- Engage in regular physical activity — Maintaining a regular physical activity schedule can be crucial to achieving your weight loss goal. Healthcare workers suggest you aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. This doesn't necessarily mean going to the gym, but it can be dancing, playing outdoor games, gardening, or taking the stairs.
- Keep a food diary — Using a mobile app or a good old paper diary can be beneficial in recording every food item you consume throughout the day and monitoring whether your calorie goal for weight loss is on track. Sticking to a weight loss regimen is much easier if you can monitor your progress in small increments and identify physical changes.
- Eat mindfully — People who are fully aware of when, where, how, what, and why they eat are more in tune with their bodies and tend to make healthier food choices. This means eating slowly, savoring your food, and focusing on its taste.
- Plan ahead — Prepare structured meal plans and stock the fridge with diet-friendly food. You should also remove processed food and unhealthy snacks to avoid quick and careless eating.
Your fitness journey will take time, so be patient. Ensure your weight loss goals are realistic and put your best effort into achieving them. If you need help keeping track of your weight loss, the Eros Smart Body Fat Scale will come to your rescue. Aside from monitoring your weight loss, this smart scale will also measure your body fat, BMI, bone mass, and ten other key metrics. By reaching your fitness goals, you will also improve your health and quality of life and feel better about yourself.
Be sure to consult with your dietitian or general practitioner before embarking on any diet, and speak with a physical trainer prior to beginning any workout program.