Setting weight loss goals
Setting goals when trying to lose weight helps manage expectations, monitor progress and stay on track, but identifying the right goals can be daunting when there is so much information available online. To support you on your weight loss journey, we’ve pulled together several tips on setting goals and link to resources to help you achieve them.
How to set realistic weight loss goals
Before you set a weight loss goal it is important to check if you’re already a healthy weight – you can use a BMI calculator to do this. It will consider your height and weight to produce a score that sits in various categories. If you’re not overweight or obese, and in the healthy weight category, focus on maintaining your weight rather than losing weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways you can look after your health and reduces your risk of many conditions, such as, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
(Please note, BMI does have some limitations and it’s important that these are understood before starting a weight loss programme).
The BMI categories:
- Between 18.5 and 24.9 – healthy weight.
- Between 25 and 29.9 – overweight.
- Between 30 and 39.9 – obese.
- BMI of 40 or more – severely obese.
If you are overweight or obese, start by aiming to lose and keep off a small amount of weight – about 5% is realistic. As an example, this looks like 10.5 pounds if you weigh 15 stone. Losing 5% of your weight can lead to health benefits such as reducing your risk of developing diabetes and lowering your blood pressure. If you have a lot of weight to lose, consider aiming for 10%, but remember to mark the 5% milestone to keep yourself motivated and celebrate your achievement!
Aim to lose 1-2 pound a week
Aiming to lose between one and two pounds a week is considered safe by most healthcare professionals. Generally, this works out as 500 – 1,000 calories less than the daily average consumed to maintain your current weight. Talk to your GP or a Dietician if you need help working out a calorie deficit.
The recommended daily calorie intake for women is 2,000 calories and 2,500 for men but this will vary depending on activity levels. Our healthy eating guide provides useful information on healthy portion sizes and includes examples of balanced meals.
Consider the short-term
A study found that setting small goals helped dieters reach long-term goals. When starting on a weight loss journey, the total number of pounds you want to lose might feel overwhelming. Set small goals, like keeping daily food diaries and considering what’s required to lose one pound each week, and you’re more likely to ‘meet subsequent goals, week to week and month to month.’
Set SMART weight loss goals
Some people find setting and achieving goals easier if they are SMART. SMART goals are:
- Specific – what exactly do you want to accomplish?
- Measurable – how will you know when it’s accomplished?
- Achievable – how will you reach it and is it realistic based on other factors?
- Relevant – does it matter to you? And does it feel like the right time?
- Time-bound – when can you start and what’s the deadline?
An example of a SMART weight loss goal might be: “Lose one stone of weight in 12 months' time by reducing my calorie intake and joining a local exercise class. I’m motivated by wanting to take part in more activities with my grandchildren and needing to lower my blood pressure.”
Track your weight loss progress
It’s important to track weight loss to maintain motivation. There are many free apps for tracking weight, or you could use an old-fashioned chart on a piece of paper! As well as recording weight, there are other ways of identifying weight loss. For example, your clothes might start to fit differently, you have an improved sense of wellbeing, or some of your body measurements are changing, such as waist, hip and thigh measurements.
The NHS website has a useful template for tracking your weight, exercise and food.
Set activity goals
Activity goals can also help to boost motivation and enjoy some of the positive changes brought about by losing some weight. They can also help you to reach your goals quicker. Activity goals might look like:
- Getting 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week – such as swimming or walking
- Finishing your local 5k Parkrun
- Joining a local exercise class
- In app challenges, such as running or walking 100km a month
Read more about the benefits of exercise and how much you should do each week.
Healthy lifestyle resources at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor
Our lifestyle advice hub is full of advice articles on living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight. You can also use our VideoGP service if you’d like to talk to one of our GP’s about losing weight and leading a healthier lifestyle.