Monday, August 21, 2000
Vital for dieters to set realistic goals
QUESTION: I've been overweight all my life. When I look at the height/weight tables, I get angry and depressed. Even if I ever get down to that weight, I'd never stay there. How do I pick a reasonable goal weight for me?
ANSWER: Many people who have the genetic tendency to gain weight feel the same as you frustrated and even angry at the relatively low weights shown on the height/weight tables. Because you have the tendency to gain weight more easily than the next person, it's important that you pick a reasonable goal weight, not one that is so low it's too difficult to maintain. There are two ways to go about this.
Medical studies find that most people will get a significant medical benefit from losing 20 percent of their current weight. So if a woman was 5' 2" and weighed 200 pounds, losing 40 pounds would help her feel better, move easier and reduce some medical concerns such as elevated blood pressure.
Another option is to ask yourself a series of questions. What is your dream weight? followed by But I would be happy if I got to..., followed by, But it would be acceptable if I reached... (People typically say, I would love to get back to a size 16 or to weigh 160 again.)
Finally, it's crucial to know your disappointed weight. This weight is a significant threshold for you. A reasonable goal weight for most people will be the acceptable weight. Typically this is a weight people have successfully maintained in the past. And usually it represents a weight where people feel good and are active. The most crucial element in picking a goal weight is picking one you can maintain.
Note: It will take at least 6 months of practicing new skills to feel comfortable with weight maintenance.
Healthy Eating is provided by staff members at Jewish Hospital Weight Management Center (www.morethanadiet.com), Evendale.
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