Is your weight loss goal realistic?

by Laura Kowski on Sunday 06 August 2023

3 min read

It’s easy to see extreme weight-loss success stories online, become motivated to follow suit, and then give up after a week of over exercising and under-eating. When this happens, it doesn’t mean you’re weak-willed or incapable. Far from it, in fact. Most of the time, it’s simply because the weight loss goal you set for yourself was unrealistic.

There are plenty of fad diets, fitness programs, and scams out there promising rapid weight-loss, and it’s normal to want a quick fix. But research has shown time and time again that this isn’t sustainable.

What has been shown to work is smaller, sustainable changes that lead to long-term lifestyle and health habits. It may require a bit more patience, but the long-term benefits will far outweigh any quick fix you can get your hands on. You really can have your cake and eat it too (in moderation, of course).

What is considered healthy weight loss?


How much weight you lose and at what pace can be impacted by many things, but the big one is how much excess weight your body is already carrying. Those with higher amounts of excess weight are more likely to see faster and more significant weight loss doing the same exercise as those at a lower weight. This is because the heavier body has to work harder to move itself, therefore burning more calories.

But if you’re looking to get back into shape after an indulgent holiday or you’re not already carrying a lot of excess weight, be realistic when approaching your goal. According to experts, a reasonable rate to aim for 1-2 pounds per week (0.45-0.9kg). So how can you achieve this?

Speak with a health professional


If you want to get started on a weight loss journey, it’s always a good idea to speak to a professional first. Chat with your doctor if you’re planning on starting a new exercise plan so they can explain any risks or things you may want to keep an eye on. You may also want to seek the advice of a registered nutritionist or dietitian who can help you with healthier eating.

If you’ve just joined a gym but don’t know where to start, having a personal trainer show you what exercises may be best for your goals is a great way to kickstart your fitness journey.

Change the goal posts

It can be easy to say, “I want to weigh X” and forget about all the other benefits that come with a healthier lifestyle. Instead of aiming for an arbitrary number on the scales, list down some more specific goals you’d like to achieve. This could include things like:

  • Run without stopping for 5km
  • Perform a certain exercise for a specific amount of reps
  • Lift a certain weight at the gym.

Your goals can even include everyday tasks, such as being able to climb the stairs at work without losing your breath, or keeping up with your children in the park.

By having specific, meaningful goals instead of focusing on the scales, you’re less likely to become demotivated if the numbers aren’t moving as much are you’d like. With this mindset, you’ll want to continue because you’ll feel how much you’ve already improved your quality of life.

Add, don’t take away


We often go into weight loss with a mindset of having to deprive ourselves of food we like and suffer through torturous workouts. Sounds fun, right? No?

What is fun, is changing our mindset from one of deprivation and restriction, to abundance and inclusion. We want to add, rather than take away. As dietician Lyndi Cohen says:

“The key is to try and find a way of eating that’s going to nourish your body, but also nourish your soul and allow you to feel good about yourself.”

Instead of cutting out food groups completely, add more of the foods that are going to nourish our bodies and help us feel our best. You can still have pizza for dinner every now and then, but why not make a salad to go along with it? You don’t have to get rid of delicious carbs like potatoes and rice. Just try to accompany them with other veggies and nutrient-dense foods that your body will love.

Instead of trying to cut out all sugary drinks, challenge yourself by slowly adding more cups of water into your day, or herbal teas. It's not a quick fix, but bit by bit, slowly adding in healthier habits like these rather than trying to remove all your bad habits at once will set you up for more long-term success.

Change your mindset

Look at weight loss goals as a lifestyle change. It’s something you’re going to keep doing long-term – you’re forming new habits. But what’s your motivation for changing your habits? Write it down. It could be wanting to become strong in the gym, or able to keep up with your energetic kids. It could even be because you want to treat your body and yourself with love and respect. As Cohen said in our podcast, “You can’t hate yourself into a version of yourself that you like”.

Knowing what motivates you will help you stay focused when you feel challenged. Also having a good support network can help boost your morale when you’re finding it tough. Group classes are a great way to meet likeminded individuals. Who knows, you might find your new favourite workout buddy there.

Be realistic and flexible


If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight in the past, reflect on why it didn’t work. Was your goal too unrealistic? Were you too rigid in your plan and left no room for flexibility, like eating out with friends occasionally? Or maybe you were going through a stressful period in your personal life and didn’t have the capacity to focus on your health. Try to be aware of the factors that might impact you this time around, and find ways to incorporate your health journey into your life, and not the other way around.

For more tips on creating a healthier, more sustainable relationship with your weight and food, check out our podcast episode with nutritionist and dietitian Lyndi Cohen.

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