Most people want to lose some weight, but how much weight loss is healthy and how do you set realistic goals that will keep you motivated to lose weight?

Who Should Use a Weight Loss Plan

Even people in a healthy weight range tend to want to lose weight, and we often want to lose weight in order to look like what we think we should look like rather than what's reasonable for our bodies right now. There are broad parameters, and any weight loss program should be discussed with your doctor first, but generally those with the following characteristics should seriously consider engaging in a weight loss program.

  • BMI of higher than 25
  • Waist-hip ratio of higher than 0.8 for women and 1.0 for men
  • An abdominal girth measurement of more than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men

Set Your Goals

You should always set a reasonable weight goal for yourself. There are several factors you can base this weight loss goal on, but you can always check the American College of Sports Medicine (http://www.acsm.org/) for helpful guidelines. There are also some calculators you can use to find a healthy weight for yourself.

  • Ideal weight calculator
  • Height – Weight Chart
  • BMI Calculator

Remember that all these calculations are guesstimates. For example, a high BMI could be the result of muscle mass. If you have more muscle, your weight might actually be higher than what is considered healthy on the BMI chart, even though you have a healthy body fat percentage.

Make a Plan

Once you determine your weight loss goal, record the goal and make a realistic plan to reach it. Make sure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable and tangible. An example goal would be:

I am 5'7" tall and weigh 160 pounds. According to the calculators above, my BMI is 25.1, which falls under the 'overweight' category. If I lose just 10 pounds, my BMI will be at a healthier 23.5

My Goal: To lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks. I will cut my calories everyday by 300-500 with both diet and exercise.

Ways I Will Reach My Goal

  • Replace my morning bagel and cream cheese (around 440 calories) with a bowl of oatmeal (around 180 calories)
  • Replace my Coke (150 calories) with a glass of water
  • Walk or Run at least thirty minutes three days a week
  • Strength train for thirty minutes twice a week

By breaking down your goals in specific tasks, you can notice the change and record your effort you are making towards your goal. This will help motivate you. If you find that you are not losing weight as quickly as you would have hoped, adjust your weight goal or length of time to reach it. Just remember, your goal must be realistic and attainable.