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Should You Set a More Ambitious Weight-Loss Goal?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

This question has been on my mind this week, now that the scale is moving in the right direction again. How did you decide on a target weight, and have you considered adjusting it up or down? Is it psychologically helpful to set a modest goal at first, and then adjust it once you've met it?

I set an ambitious goal of losing 50 pounds this year, but I have to admit, even that keeps me in the "overweight" category. Shouldn't I strive for a weight that is considered "healthy" by medical standards? Am I just being practical? Or, am I setting a lesser goal because I'm used to being overweight and it would feel weird not to be?

To back up: last Christmas I weighed 210, my heaviest ever, after gaining 50 pounds in 3 years. Initially I set a goal of losing 40 lbs in 2020. That seemed plenty ambitious! 170 lbs is overweight for my height, but it would be a great achievement.

I didn't say 50, because that number seemed astronomical, too intimidating to even contemplate.

Besides, the most I'd ever lost in one year was about 25 pounds. I believe in slow and steady weight loss and would never attempt a crash diet or Biggest Loser-type numbers. I also know from experience that those last 10 or 15 pounds come off much more slowly.

But when I returned to SP before the New Year, all the good habits came back in a flash and I found the weight was coming off more quickly and easily than expected. After losing 25 pounds, I took the leap: and re-set my goal to 160 pounds. That's the weight I reached last time I was on SP, when I was running 5Ks regularly.

Back then, I was also frustrated that the scale would not go below 160.0 no matter what! Seriously--in over a year of trying, not once did I see 159.anything. It's like there was an invisible barrier, mental or physical or both. And eventually I got tired of trying.

But maybe now I have mastered the tools needed to push through. I'd like to think so!

For my height, the dividing line between "Overweight" and "Healthy" is 154 lbs. I've weighed as little as 142 in my adult life, but I was miserable trying to maintain that. I remember that 150 - 152 lbs felt pretty comfortable, though.

It probably won't happen in 2020. But if I can lose 40-50 pounds this year, I'm much more confident of tackling more in 2021.

It's important to always be learning and growing--or shrinking, as the case may be!

Feel free to share your thoughts about incremental and long-range goal-setting. I'd love to hear how others dealt with this. Happy Sparking!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I wish you the best in your goals, I don't think it's unrealistic to set a higher goal, but it does take a lot of hard work, and focus. I think the best thing you can do is set short term goals, and be consistent! Don't throw in the towel if you mess up, just get back to it. Focus on creating healthy habits and and a healthy environment, and surround yourself as best you can with people who support you in your goals, and maybe will even join you!

    57 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your own thought process, RENEE7575! You're right about needing to choose a goal and process that is sustainable, and it's good you recognize that doing an hour of exercise every day is unrealistic. In the past I also have decided that raising the target number was the right thing to do. I try to keep in mind that losing even 5 or 10 lbs comes with huge health benefits, from lower BP to better sleep. I'll look into Smart BMI, too--I'm almost 52, so the threshold could well be higher. Thanks!

    58 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/10/2020 5:12:17 PM
  • RENEE7575
    I just recently raised my long-term weight loss goal from 149 to 159. I have been stuck in the same four pound range since February, and I decided that if I am already having trouble making the scale move, I will never be able to attain 149 without significant calorie restriction and without working out more than I have time for.

    I'd just started fitness on May 8 and basically jumped right in with both feet. By the beginning of week four, I was doing six 3-mile workouts a week, after spending 27 years totally sedentary. That just wasn't a sustainable fitness goal, especially for when I go back to work (I'm currently on disability, but job hunting). If I can't drop under 200 while doing six 3-mile walks, what would I need to do at 149?

    One thing that helped me was the Smart BMI. You can google it and it comes right up - it is based on the usual BMI, but takes your age into consideration. At 159, I am still at the high end of a recommended BMI that adjusts for my being 49, so I set that as my new weight goal. I don't want a goal that I have to kill myself to maintain. We'll see where I land once I break this long plateau. Actually, my goal is more to fit into a size 12 (I started as a 28), so I don't know what that will equal on the scale.

    I like what you said about questioning whether you'd chosen a goal weight that was too high simply because you're so used to being overweight. That's something I hadn't thought about, but it's a wonderful insight. I have been over 200 pounds since 1993 so this gives me something to ponder. Thank you.
    58 days ago
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