Setting Realistic Weight Loss Goals

  • In looking for helpful information related to weight loss, I found the following paragraph, statements with which I do not disagree:


    “If you eat 100 calories a day more than your body needs, you will gain approximately 10 pounds in a year. You could lose the weight or keep it off by doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. The combination of exercise and diet is the best way to control your weight.”


    I think that the right kind of motivation is equally as important.  Several years ago I was having a conversation with my gynecologist.  I had just returned from spending the summer in Graz, Austria, where walking was a predominant mode of transportation.

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    During that summer I began having difficulty walking which I now know is related to multiple sclerosis.  When I mentioned the walking difficulty and stiff muscles to my gyn, she jumped straight to the topic of my weight, which at that time was not near what it is now.  I can’t wear the same pants I wore then.


    She tried to instill fear into me and I’ll admit that this wasn’t the first year that she had mentioned my need to lose some weight.  But this year she outright said that by being obese I was killing myself, slowly for sure, but fatally none-the-less.  A year later, she had stopped taking my insurance and I did not return to her.


    The reason I have been thinking of that gynecological visit is that I stumbled upon the Weight-control Information Network, a service of the National Institute of diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).  I was reading information aimed at healthcare providers, including the following paragraphs:


    “Bear in mind that: · Medically significant weight loss can be as modest as five percent of initial body weight. · The vast majority of patients with a percent body fat or BMI that puts them in the top three health risk categories do not lose more than 10-20 percent of initial body weight.

    “Most of these patients, however, want to lose 20-30 percent of initial body weight. These patients feel discouraged when they fail to achieve (or maintain) this loss. Such discouragement does not bode well for the maintenance of weight/fat goals.

    “You can play an important role by helping the patient evaluate the value of an aggressive goal that cannot be maintained against a modest but sustainable goal that will appreciably impact health, mobility, independence and quality of life.”


    My doctor did not present her recommendations by suggesting a modest but sustainable goal.  Her negative (and foreboding) attitude did not inspire nor motivate me.  In fact, her advise had the opposite effect.  I believe that I gained significant weight that year.


    As I mentioned in my first post on My Obesity Connection, I don’t have a specific goal in mind at the “end” of this journey.  In fact I don’t think there ever really is an end to the journey of weight control and health.  At least I don’t foresee an end at this time.


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    In contrast to the story above, my primary doctor found an opportunity to offer me encouragement last September.  I had had lots of steroids during the summer due to a massive MS exacerbation.  I experienced a great deal of swelling and water retention while feeling famished, all common side-effects of steroids.


    She asked how my MS was doing and I exclaimed that “MS can take a hike!”  I complained about the steroids and feared weight gain.  She pointed out that, in fact, I weighed 3 pounds less than I had in May.  She encouraged me rather than pointing out how obese I am.  That really meant a great deal to me and I continued to drop about five pounds during the fall.


    In January, I weighed 271.6 pounds and this past Sunday I weighed in at 265.0 pounds.  I’ve lost 2.5% of my initial body weight on this journey so far.


    To help visualize my progress, I’ve made the following chart highlighting my current weight with potential losses of 10%, 20%, and the near impossible 30% of my initial weight.  Happily, I’m half-way to that first 5% weight loss and I’m proud!!



    February 14, 2010

    Weight: 265.0
    Blood Pressure: 119/78
    Pulse: 69


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: February 18, 2010