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Setting Weight Loss Goals

The question is: How do you set realistic weight loss goals?

  • Resolve to lose slowly“Medically, most clinicians would say goals of losing five to 10 percent [of your start weight] are achievable,” says Jennifer A. Linde, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

    So if you weigh 200 pounds, a reachable target would be to lose 10 to 20 pounds.

  • Do the math.“A realistic goal is losing 1 to 2 pounds a week to stay healthy,” says Linde.

    That means being realistic about your time frame. If you need to lose 25 pounds, figure you are embarking on at least a three-month program. Fifty pounds? Assume a time frame of at least six months. Aim to burn 500 to 1000 calories a day either by eating less, exercising more, or both.

  • Set short term goals.Reach for minimilestones. Instead of focusing on just losing 25 pounds, go for — and celebrate — that first 5-pound loss.
  • Track your progress.Record your successes in a way that works for you. Take advantage of online programs, use a notebook, or keep a journal. Whatever keeps you on track.
  • Think about long-term goals.“It’s OK to think big, Linde says, “but it may mean starting small and working towards a big goal.”

    So if your long-term goal is losing 50 pounds in a year, for example, maybe your short-term goal is getting through the day without eating too much.

There’s an old saying: Lose it slowly, keep it off. This adage makes sense for at least one reason: Losing weight slowly means you’ve had time to adopt new behaviors, like eating less and exercising more.

And when you focus on the process of changing your habits — not just on losing weight — those new and healthier habits will be a big boost in helping you attain your weight loss goals.

Categories: health
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