Friday, January 15, 2010

Setting realistic expectations

34 pounds.

That's the amount of weight lost in the first week by a contestant on the Biggest Loser. With reality tv at it's height and weight loss shows becoming ever more popular, is it any wonder that so many of us are starting to have unrealistic expectations?

Yesterday evening I had my second weigh in. After a week of diligently following the program, staying within my points and working out daily, I weighed in at 241.4 pounds, giving me a loss of 2.4 pounds. My first reaction upon seeing that number was disappointment.


That's right folks. Since about the age of 12, I've read fitness magazines and books. I absorb the information within them and am almost obsessive in my knowledge of what is recommended and healthy. Yet, I found myself disappointed with losing an amount that was almost exactly 1 percent of my body weight.

In reality that is the maximum that I should lose per week.

As nice as it would be to have a quick fix, it's important to remember that a quick fix is just that. Quick. And often it is quickly over too. Research shows that weight lost quickly is weight easily gained back. It would be far better to take a year and a half to lose weight then to lose it all in 6 months and gain it back 6 months later.

The recommended rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, or 1 percent of your body weight. In fact, some sources even recommend a rate of 0.5 - 1 pound per week. It seems slow, and in some ways it is. This is where you have to start looking long term and considering why you are trying to lose weight. Setting unrealistic goals will not help you. They set you up for disappointment, making you frustrated and making it harder to stick to your plan.

I'm in this for life. I'm no longer trying to lose weight to look good in my wedding dress or fit into a bikini. I'm doing it so that I can hike up a mountain without huffing and puffing, so I can climb stairs without my knees aching and so that I have the energy to keep up with my children and lead a quality life.

If I had taken this attitude 6 years ago (last time I was at a healthy weight), I would still be there today. So, while I may not be at my ideal weight in 6 months, I will be in 18 months. And I still will be in 6 years and even 16 years. Really a year and a half is a small price to pay when I'm talking about the rest of my life.

So, while my initial reaction to my weight loss was disappointment, upon reflection, it's elation. Because I've taken the first step. Heck, I've taken the first 10 steps. After all, this isn't a little interpretive trail I'm on, but the first of many through hikes.


  1. Hi Deb - I'm a friend of Amanda's. We met years and years ago when you worked together but I don't expect you to remember me!! :)

    Congrats on your loss. I understand the disappointment fueled by unrealistic messages all around you - but that's a great start. 2.4 lbs lost is still 2.4 lbs less you have to carry with you every step of the day.

  2. AWesome! you totally have the right frame of mind to see continued success, right through to your goal...and i think you came to the same realization that i did this past time of "this is for life". i'm even ready for the inevitable plateau's i know that my body will encounter along the way but my head is in the game so i will just keep going when that happens!!!
    again, awesome job on the 2.4 loss!!!

  3. Megan, of course I remember you. I even read your blog sometimes. :)

  4. 2.4lbs is awesome! The weightloss shows are hard sometimes because don't we all wish we could lose that fast. I think I'm in the 0.2lbs a week right now, 2 years on program and still working at it. Perseverence is the key.

  5. First, congrats on your successful week!

    Second, thank you so much for an incredibly well written post!!! I'm bookmarking this and am going to link to it from my blog. It is all so true!

    My very first week working with my nutritionist, I lost 4.5 lbs. Some water, I'm sure. I remember feeling "disappointed". My nutritionist couldn't believe it. He gets frustrated with the unrealistic expectations we get from the Biggest Loser TV show. Don't get me wrong, I do like the show. But it's not realistic for the "real world"