Written on February 6, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Losing weight can be a challenging journey, and it’s essential to have a clear understanding of how much weight you should aim to lose. It’s crucial to set realistic goals and to know that losing weight is a gradual process that takes time and consistency.
Remember that not everyone should be pursuing weight loss, and there’s far more to it than how you look or a number on a scale. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the following all influence one’s weight and overall health: family history and genetics, race or ethnicity, age, sex assigned at birth, nutrition and exercise habits, physical environment, access to affordable food, cultural norms, sleep, medications, other medical conditions, mental health, stress, and more .
Be mindful that if you have a history of eating disorders or disordered eating, weight loss has added layers of complexity. You should speak to your healthcare provider or team before any efforts toward weight loss.
“When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s natural to want it to happen very quickly. But people with gradual and steady weight loss (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more likely to keep the weight off,” says the CDC .
The best way to define your goals is to speak with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history and uses a Health at Every Size (HAES) ideology, which means they “accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights” . HAES ideology posits that “health exists on a continuum that varies with time and circumstance for each individual. Health should be conceived as a resource or capacity available to all regardless of health condition or ability level, and not as an outcome or objective of living” .
One option for a consultation would be to book a telehealth appointment for weight management with a healthcare provider.
Another way to get an idea of where to start is by using a tool like the NIH’s Body Weight Planner, where you can input your information and look at different goals to see what changes you can make moving forward .
Even though it might be appealing to lose weight as quickly as possible, this can have serious consequences.
For example, when you lose weight rapidly, your body slows down your metabolism as a biological survival tool so that you don’t starve. You can also end up losing muscle mass rather than fat, experience digestive problems, fatigue, loss of bone density, decreased immunity, and hair loss .
These strategies will help you get started as you begin your weight loss journey.
Weight loss can be a large undertaking, physically and emotionally. It’s a commitment that takes time and patience.
The Mayo Clinic offers the following questions for your consideration to see if you are ready :
“Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss must include lowering your total calorie intake. But decreasing calories need not mean giving up taste, satisfaction, or even ease of meal preparation,” says The Mayo Clinic. This is a great time to try new healthy recipes and foods that you haven’t considered before.
Additionally, trying new ways to get active will allow you to explore what feels good to your body and also have a bit of fun.
Deciding how to measure your progress is equally important as defining your goals. Talk with your healthcare provider about how you can measure your progress in a way that won’t be discouraging. For some people, looking at a number on a scale is anxiety-provoking, so maybe you focus more on other measures, like how your clothing fits or how your body feels.
Everlywell offers access to telehealth for weight management online, which can connect you with a qualified healthcare provider. You can discuss your weight loss goals based on your availability from the comfort of your home.