How to Set a Weight Loss Goal
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
How much weight do you need to lose?
As a starting point, decide on a reasonable target weight for you. As a guideline, most slimming and weight loss professionals use the Body Mass Index (BMI), which looks at a person’s weight in relation to their height,. A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered to be underweight, 18.5-24.9 indicates a healthy weight, 25-29.9 is overweight and 30 or more is obese. Quite simply, the higher your BMI, the greater your risk of health problems. Find out your BMI with the WLR Calculator.
Ideally, you should aim for a target weight that gives you a BMI in the healthy weight range (18.5-24.9), but if you have a considerable amount of weight to lose, this may seem extremely daunting and unachievable. Instead, you might prefer to set an initial weight loss that moves you down a couple of BMI notches, or perhaps shifts you from the obese category (BMI more than 30) to the overweight category (BMI 25-29.9). Research shows that losing just 10 percent of excess weight will improve health – and you can always set yourself new goals along the way.
On the other hand, you might already be in the healthy weight range. But if your weight has gradually been increasing, now’s the time to take control of the situation and lose the extra pounds you’ve gained before you end up becoming medically overweight.
In addition, while many of us might like to slim down to the weight we were on our 18th birthday or on our wedding day, for example, it’s important to be realistic about whether you can really achieve this. For most of us, it’s likely to be impractical – as teenagers we probably played sport every single day, while we perhaps starved ourselves to get into our wedding dress! Instead, it’s better to focus on reaching a target weight that leaves you looking and feeling slim, fit and healthy – rather than skinny.
Once you’ve decided on a realistic weight goal, you’ll be able to work out how long it will take you to reach this.
While it might be tempting to slash your calorie intake considerably in an effort to lose weight fast, you shouldn’t aim to shift more than 2lb a week – although you may lose slightly more than this when you first start slimming as your body gets rid of water as well as fat. In the long term though, a weight loss of more than 2lb a week means you’ll have to cut calories excessively – and ultimately, this will make it even harder to shift those pounds. Effectively, very low calorie intakes simply push the body into ‘starvation mode’ so that it becomes super efficient at making the most of the calories it actually gets from food and drink. It does this by protecting its fat stores and instead using lean tissue or muscle to provide it with some of the calories it needs to keep functioning. This leads to a loss of muscle, which in turn lowers metabolism so that the body needs fewer calories to keep ticking over and weight loss slows down – not ideal if you want to shift unwanted pounds!
Weight Loss Calculator
Here’s how long you can expect it to take you to lose weight…
|Weight to lose||Number of weeks it will take you to lose weight at a rate of…|
|1lb a week||2lb a week|
|Half a stone||5||3|
NB: This is based on losing an extra 2lb in the first few weeks of slimming and weight loss.
So now you’ve set yourself a realistic target weight and know roughly how long it will take to achieve this, you can start to devise a slimming plan that will work for you.