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Losing With Lisa: How To Set Weight-loss Goals?

Establishing weight loss goals can be one of the most difficult steps of starting a weight loss program. How much do you need to lose and how should that number be calculated? Most importantly, is your desired result realistic? Setting an appropriate goal is more than aiming for what we used to weigh in high school, the size of a beloved wedding gown, or even what we’ve always longed to weigh. Sometimes our overzealous expectations can create an objective that is impractical setting us up for disappointment and eminent failure from the very onset.

If you're losing weight for your health, a practical goal might be something relatively modest yet personally challenging such as 5-10% of your current body weight. Now suppose you have something more specific in mind like a particular clothing size. This goal is considerably harder to distinguish as apparel sizes vary by manufacturer and as such there is not a predetermined weight that will precisely align with this ambition. So now what? How do we address these concerns and create a realistic goal? The first step is gaining an understanding of how to set achievable weight loss goals that can actually be measured. Guess what the best part is? You don’t have to set your final goal immediately. In fact, in many cases it’s best not to. Baby steps are perfect. Its best to celebrate small victories to ensure large ones, Anyways a key element in deciding goals weight loss or otherwise is to follow explicit goal setting standards in referred to as SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Time-bound.

Let’s go back to the basics and start by determining if you really need to lose weight. Countless people influenced largely by our current pop culture feel like they need to lose weight including many of whom appear perfectly healthy. Our weight loss goals are oftentimes based on how we think we should appear as opposed to recognizing a reasonable body type. There are numerous broad considerations to determine weight loss needs but in general, the following indicators are just a few viable warning signs.

  • · Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 25

  • Excess weight around the waist

  • Trouble Sleeping/Sleep Apnea

  • Osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints, particularly the knees

These of course are not the only telling clues that the pounds may be packing on. Obviously there are other annoying and embarrassing cautionary signs such as tighter clothes, shortness of breath, or stepping on a that scale and facing its harsh reality.

Before setting weight loss goals on your own based on your personal estimations of what you think you should weigh, it’s always best to consult with your doctor who can utilize height-weight charts and other diagnostic resources to ascertain a healthy weight range based on your specific body type. If you've determined that you do indeed need to lose weight, the next step is to set a reasonable weight loss goal which can be based on numerous factors such as current weight, height, age, gender, and activity level amongst others. A great starting point to consider is the recommendations set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine suggesting 5-10% of body weight or one to two pounds per week. Try to focus less on a target weight and more on making and sustaining healthy choices every day. I know it can be easier said than done but remember we are in this for the long-haul. Slow and steady wins the race right?

However you conclude your weight loss goals, be sure to record them and draft a written plan to accomplish them and maintain your results. It’s vital to contemplate your goals impartially: are they specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely?

SMART Goal Examples:

Specific – “I’m going to exercise 150 minutes per week” vs “I’m going to exercise more,”

Measurable – “I’ll journal the calories I consume and burn so in order to accurately monitor my daily calorie deficit”

Achievable – “Since I’m already burning 1,200 calories/week with exercise, a moderate increase should be manageable by adding one extra workout or extending my current workouts by about 10 minutes each to burn 1,500 calories/week.”

Realistic – I already drink 48 ounces of water per day. Committing to drinking at least 60 ounces per day is a realistic goal for me”

Timely – “I will reach my target weight by my birthday”

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