Reality Check: How Reasonable Are Your New Year’s Weight-Loss Goals?

January 6, 2010

If you’re on the verge of throwing out your New Year’s weight-loss resolution along with last season’s wrapping paper, take a moment to evaluate how realistic your goals really are. Board certified Endocrinologist and Weight Management Specialist Sri Prakash Mokshagundam, MD, said people often set unrealistic goals because they are not looking at the overall health benefits or focusing on a long-term plan.

sri“When people set a goal and don’t reach it, they consider the plan failed and they go back to where they were. If your goal was to lose 120 pounds and you lost 40, in reality you have become much healthier and still been successful.”

Sri Prakash Mokshagundam, MD
Board Certified Endocrinologist
Floyd Memorial Weight Management Center and Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate

“When people set a goal and don’t reach it, they consider the plan failed and they go back to where they were,” said Dr. Mokshagundam, who works at the Floyd Memorial Weight Management Center and Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate. “If your goal was to lose 120 pounds and you lost 40, in reality you have become much healthier and still been successful.” Focusing on Behavior Dr. Mokshagundam said the most effective goals are behavior-related. Good behavior goals include exercising 30-45 minutes a day for five days a week or cutting out fast food.

lankford“Your goals and your neighbor’s goals are not necessarily going to be the same. It’s all relative to where you begin.”

Ashley Lankford, MD, FACS
Board Certified General Surgeon Medical Director,
Floyd Memorial Weight Management Center

“These goals are measurable and under your control,” he said. “The ultimate goal is changing your lifestyle.” Ashley Lankford, MD, FACS, a boardcertified general surgeon who performs gastric banding surgery at Floyd Memorial, stressed that not all goals are appropriate for everyone. “For a morbidly obese 60-year-old living a sedentary lifestyle, walking around the block might be a reasonable goal,” she said. “However, if you’re a 25-year-old who is otherwise healthy, your goal should be very different.”

Practical Weight-Loss Goals

If you find it helpful to set a specific weight-loss goal, what number is reasonable? Dr. Mokshagundam said losing five to 10 percent of your initial body weight over a six month period is a practical first goal. When that goal has been reached, you can decide whether to set a goal for losing another five or 10 percent.  Weight loss and maintenance is a complex process. “The body might fight the weight loss, and you may not always see the results on the scale. But if you are eating healthy and exercising, you are healthier,” said Dr. Mokshagundam

Keeping Weight Off for Good

Your true goal should be to lose weight and keep it off. “People who lose weight quickly tend to gain it right back,” noted Dr. Lankford. Long-term success is the goal, agreed Dr. Mokshagundam. “Weight loss is not difficult. Anyone can lose 30 pounds in 30 days.  What’s difficult is weight maintenance over the long term.”
The Floyd Memorial Weight Management Center can be your partner for long-term results. The Center offers non-surgical and surgical options to help you lose weight and improve your health.

Plan to Succeed

Dr. Mokshagundam offered the following tips for long-term weight loss success:

  • Set your goal to achieve long-term lifestyle change, rather than a short-term weight loss, and be realistic about what effort this goal will require.
  • Choose an eating plan that does not necessitate permanently eliminating all the foods you enjoy. Such a plan will not be sustainable over time.
  • Ignore advertisements that say you can eat all you want, not exercise and lose weight. Any weight loss does require that you give up something
  • Don’t just say you’re going to exercise. Get out your calendar and schedule exactly when and where you will fit it in during all kinds of weather.
  • If you are going to purchase exercise equipment, first think through where and when you will use it. Many people find the basement is too lonely or cold.
  • Any time is a good time to start a weight-loss program, not just the beginning of a new year.