Author: Matt Maresca
I am a huge believer in having goals. While some people spend too much time setting goals and not enough time achieving them, most people do not put much thought into goal-setting. When it comes to weight loss, it is especially important to set realistic goals.
By realistic, I do not mean "I want to lose 30 pounds in 30 days." Oh, I've seen those claims many times. I've seen the claims of marketers that say their products can do that for you. I've also seen the claims of people that have said they can accomplish that feat. Can you lose 30 pounds in 30 days? Sure, but it is not healthy at all and will almost certainly return at some point in the near future. A good portion of this extreme weight loss will be in the form of muscle and that will kill your metabolic rate. For more on this, check my article on "Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss".
So, what is a realistic amount of fat one can lose in 30 days? I would say, stick to the mantra of 1-2 pounds per week. That would mean about 4-8 pounds per month. Now, that may not sound like much, but let's put it into a bit of perspective. Say you were to only lose one pound of fat each week. After one year, that would be 52 pounds! What if you had started losing one pound per week a year ago? Now imagine yourself this time next year at 52 pounds lighter. You may not even need to lose that much weight.
The key to weight loss goals is patience, realism, and a constant effort toward achieving them. At two pounds of body fat per week, after 13 weeks (3 months), you will have lost 26 pounds of body fat. That is very significant. It requires a lot of effort over the course of three months, but it is definitely attainable. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, this would be a good goal to start with. Close to 30 pounds in three months is much more realistic that 30 pounds in 30 days.
One note that I should make is concerning detoxification diets. I am actually a big proponent of the detoxification process as long as it is done properly. I will deal with this subject in a future article, but for now you should know that it involves eliminating certain foods from your diet (while sometimes adding certain natural supplements) in order to rid your body of toxins that have been stored over time. The detoxification process can lead to a large drop in excess water weight in a short period of time. This would mean that you may lose an additional 5-10 pounds of weight on top of the 1-2 pounds per week of body fat in the first 2-4 weeks. It is not an easy process, but it is definitely healthy and certainly worth the effort.
Other than that, I would recommend sticking to two pounds per week for a short-term aggressive approach and about 1.5 pounds per week for a longer-term goal. Remember that these pounds add up over time. Don't check the scale every day as you will get discouraged quickly. Rather, stick to checking every two to four weeks. Also, take some measurement of your body and take note of how your clothes are fitting. Often, these are better indications of how your body is changing. Take pride in these accomplishments and don't stress over the numbers.
Set goals. Make them aggressive but attainable. Set both short and long term goals and then go take action on them. Most importantly, be consistent because your efforts really will add up all the time. That will make you very happy in the end.
Matt Maresca is a Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. His passion is to help rid the world of fads, gimmicks, and misinformation concerning weight loss and teach the principles of healthy weight loss. His website http://www.schoolofweightloss.com does just that.