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Setting realistic goals for weight loss

Setting up realistic, well-described and easy-to-measure goals are an important part of successful weight loss. These recommendations keep you focused and motivated.

Make sure the time is right for you

Before you start to work on weight loss, assess your readiness for change. Make sure this is the right time. If you have significant changes in your life—changing jobs, starting school, moving—it might not be the best time to start a weight loss program. You want to make sure you feel comfortable to make changes and try new things. You don’t want your program to cause more stress and become an overwhelming experience.

Think what you want to achieve short term

Write down your short-term goals, such as what you want to change in the next month, and plan how you are going to achieve it. Be specific.

A reasonable goal for many people is losing 5-10% of current weight. A reasonable goal is to lose one-half to one pound a week. Think about 3 components:

  1. Fitness and exercise

For successful weight loss and weight maintenance, add physical activity to your plan.

Think about what you prefer doing: walking with your dog, gardening, biking, and exercising at the gym or pool. Consider what exercise equipment you have at home, what DVDs you might have, think about local gym memberships, exercise programs or classes at local community centers. Plan time a day that is sustainable for you to exercise long-term.

  1. Meal planning

This is a critically important part of weight management. Evaluate you current diet: how many meals you eat a day, where your meals come from (home vs. restaurant), how many times a week you eat out. Write it down and review; see how you can improve.

  1. Social support

Try to get support from your friends, family or co-workers. It’s important you have someone to talk to about your concerns and get support from if you have a bad day. Build a relationship with you health care provider so you feel comfortable to discuss your weight management progress.

Think what you want to achieve long term (long term goals)

Think about why you want to lose weight, why you think it might be important for you, and what results you want to see. Be specific. Write down simple ideas and add details through the process.

Examples include being able to walk with your kids, going with your grandkids on the next trip to the zoo or water park, taking long walks with your dog, enjoying an active vacation, improving diabetes, preventing diabetes, reducing medications, or running a 5K.

Be creative—brainstorm.

Frequently evaluate your progress and analyze what needs improvement or change

Do weekly re-checks. Writing in a journal can help you to stay focused and motivated.

Celebrate you achievements and be proud of yourself

Some weeks you might not lose weight or lose less than you hoped for. But stay consistent and remind yourself that you are doing this for your good health and better quality of life.

Seek support and don’t be afraid to get help when you need it.

Written by:

Mariya O. Pogorelova, MD
Internal Medicine
Mercy West Clinic
1000 Mineral Point Ave. Janesville, WI 53548
(608) 756-6849