In order to reach your goals, you firstly need to consider what realistically can be achieved. Losing enough body fat to look like a super model is unrealistic and unobtainable for most people – and in some cases unhealthy. But losing several excess kilos to fit into that expensive outfit you bought last year is most probably achievable. In this section we look at setting, reaching and maintaining your new body shape goals.
Setting and reaching your goal weight
Your ideal weight depends on your age, height, build and how much muscle you carry. Calculating your body mass index (BMI) will give you an indication of what your ideal body weight is according to your height. The ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI above 25 is considered overweight (pre-obese) and a BMI greater than 30 is obese. The BMI formula is:
Weight (in kilograms)
BMI = ---------------------------
Height (in metres) 2
For example, a woman who is 1.65cm tall and 80kg will have a BMI of 29.4, which is considered overweight. Another useful ‘healthy weight’ check is to measure your waist. Men who have a waist measurement more than 102cm (40 inches) and women who have a waist measurement over 88cm (35 inches) are at much greater risk of disease, including heart problems.
If you are overweight and wish to trim down, then here are some handy tips for setting your goal weight and reaching your goal weight.
- You could base your weight loss goal on the number of kilograms lost, your BMI or the drop in centimetres around your waist. You could even use the number of notches in your belt as your target
- Give yourself a realistic time frame to reach your goal. Six months to a year, or even longer, may be required
- Allow the weight to come off slowly – around ½ to 1kg per week. Weight that is lost fast tends to come back fast
- Set yourself a number of short-term goals so that there is a sense of achievement along the way to your ‘big’ goal
Reward yourself along the way – but not with food-based rewards. Buy yourself a new music CD or take yourself along to the movies for a treat when you reach your short-term goals.
Maintaining your goal weight
Once you have reached your goal weight or body size, the last thing you want to do is blow it and regain all those kilos that you worked so hard to lose. The fact of the matter is weight will be regained unless the lifestyle changes you have made are ongoing.
Beware of the ‘I made it’ syndrome where you return to your old habits and ways as soon as you have reached your target weight. The occasional treat or small splurge is fine, but don’t let it overpower all the good habits you have now adopted.
Motivation is that inner drive that keeps us going in an activity, even when we find it uncomfortable or difficult. Some people find it easy to get motivated and stay motivated, whereas others find it very challenging. The single biggest barrier to successful weight loss is a lack of motivation.
So what can you do to get motivated and stay that way? The following pointers aim to help you along the way.
- Think about all the positives (pros) to losing weight and write them down on a piece of paper (e.g. I’ll feel better, I’ll be healthier, I’ll have more energy to play with the kids etc). Pick out two or three of these benefits and stick them on the fridge to remind you every day
- It is also very important to address all the negatives (cons) to losing weight. Write down all the negatives and barriers (e.g. I won’t be able to go out to dinner) and consider each issue. For example, there is no reason why you cannot go out to a restaurant occasionally for dinner. Most restaurants nowadays offer healthy food choices, and if it is not obvious on the menu, then ask the waiter if the chef can cater to your dietary needs (e.g. if the meal you want comes with chips, ask for veggies or salad instead)
- Set yourself several short term goals that are achievable (e.g. this week, I aim to eat two pieces of fresh fruit every day)
- Plan your week using a diary and tick off tasks as you complete them (e.g. Monday – go for a 30 minute power walk). Breaking down your eating plan and exercise routine into daily tasks can make your weight loss goal seem a lot more achievable
- Find yourself a role model or mentor. You may know of a friend who has successfully lost weight and kept it off ever since. Talk to them about your task and perhaps ask if they can act as a mentor, to help keep you motivated
- Discuss your goals with your family and ask for their support and encouragement
Where to go for extra help?
If you require professional help in your quest to improve fitness and achieve a healthy body weight, speak to your doctor, an accredited practising dietitian (Australia) or a registered dietitian (New Zealand). If you live in Australia and wish to find a qualified dietitian in your area, either look in the yellow pages of the phone book or go to the website of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).