Fitting into the jeans you wore in college—when you were 20 pounds lighter—by next Friday: not realistic. Transforming yourself into Heidi Klum: probably not going to happen. Setting your expectations too high is a common weight-loss mistake. No one can eat/exercise perfectly all the time; you’ll do better to focus on setting realistic, short-term goals (like “I will track everything I eat” and “I will exercise for 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday”) and lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week. (Read on for help in setting these goals.) Remember to reward yourself—but not with food—when you achieve your goals, and continue to revise your goals regularly to keep yourself challenged.
To set your goals:
1. Calculate your ultimate weight-loss goal. Determine how much weight you need to lose. Calculate your body mass index (BMI).
2. Calculate your daily calorie-intake goal.
YOUR CURRENT WEIGHT X 12 =calories needed to maintain your weight
To lose 1 pound/week: Cut 500 calories/day
To lose 2 pounds/week: Cut 1,000 calories/day
Note: For healthy weight loss, we don't advise losing more than two pounds per week. If you calculate a daily calorie goal that's less than 1,200, set your calorie goal at 1,200 calories. Below that, it's hard to meet your nutrient needs—or feel satisfied enough to stick with a plan.
3. Write it down. Record the numbers you've determined in steps 1 and 2 on this goal-setting worksheet (click to download pdf) to help remind you of your goals.
4. Get a game plan. Outline specific strategies that will help you to stick to your calorie goals. For example, you might aim to limit snack foods at night or to buy single-serving snack foods. Use our game plan guidelines and helpful worksheet to devise your game plan.
* Find out how setting the "right" goals can make your diet a success.
* Stay on track: Create a weight-loss game plan.
* Community discussion: Share your goal-setting advice.
Photo Caption: Tracking calories on a spreadsheet helped Lynn Fowler lose 29 pounds on the EatingWell Diet (the last 10 during our Challenge).