Weight loss has been a fitness goal for nearly half of the American adult population according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While that’s an admirable desire, especially among the ongoing obesity problem in the West, most of these people are failing to meet their weight loss goals because the number they have in mind is simply not realistic. A lot of that might have to do with the ideal weight presented to us on social media or in film, television, and magazines. 

There are tons of weight loss plans out there and not all of them will work for every body type. It’s impossible to tell exactly what precise combination of dieting and physical activity will help you reach your ideal weight. We’ve put this guide together to help people who are just beginning their weight loss journey to set realistic expectations so that they’re more likely to keep healthy lifestyle changes in place until they meet their weight loss goal. 

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Do We Ever Reach Our Goal Weight, Really?

The short answer is yes, many people have successfully met their weight loss goals. But one important thing to realize as you start on a weight loss plan is that once you lose the weight you set out to lose, you might find yourself wanting to set a new goal and keep dieting. 

There’s no doubt it’s great to keep some of the lifestyle changes in place once you’ve met your weight loss goal. Increased physical activity and healthy dieting habits can help your body stay in top shape and improve your quality of life overall. But for many people, there are always going to be an elusive number of pounds that never seem to go away. If you feel like you’re always dieting in pursuit of your ideal body weight, that might be an indication that your goal weight is unrealistic. 

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There are other measures of health and success beyond the number on the scale.

Healthy Weight Vs. Ideal Weight

There is no shortage of airbrushed models adorning the covers of magazines and filling news feeds on social media sites. People in the public eye who do manage to cut weight, like actors who do so for a movie role, may or may not be doing so in a healthy way. If actors and models are in the minority that ahs healthy dieting and physical exercise habits, we should take care to remember that they have much more time available to them to dedicate to their weight loss goals. 

It’s unfortunately all too easy to build up a skewed perception of body weight, whether it be our own or the ideal weight for people more generally. An unrealistic perception of body weight can create stress that leads to more unhealthy habits and negative health outcomes overall. 

So, what should we include in the picture of health in our mind’s eye? It’s wiser by far to concentrate on outcomes such as improved bodily function, reduced fatigue, and increased energy levels than to focus solely on looks. 

Although it’s distressingly absent from most discussions about fitness and nutrition plans, individual happiness is also a part of health. If your goal weight requires lifestyle changes and dieting tactics that will make you miserable or interfere with your day-to-day living too much, you should probably consider slowing down your weight loss program.

What Should My Goal Weight Be?

Despite what you may have seen on a goal weight calculator or heard from a quick rule of thumb, there is no universal standard for what your weight should be based on your frame size or anything else. Of course, there are limits past which serious health problems will begin to appear. It is possible to be dangerously skinny or overweight and we should all take care not to cross those thresholds. That being said, it is also very much possible to have a larger frame size, more bulk generally, or even be overweight and have enough muscle mass and enough nutrients for your body to function as it should. 

In the end, your goal weight ought to be a number that will allow your body to function as well as it can. Remember that a number on the scale won’t make you automatically feel comfortable in your body. The good news is that a truly healthy weight loss program and physical activity do boost self-esteem and lead to an improved body image. 

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How to Set A Healthy Weight Goal

It might seem intimidating to come up with a goal weight before you start a weight loss plan, but just remember that you can always make adjustments if you find your initial goal either overshot the mark or didn’t go far enough. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when you’re deciding on a goal weight: 

1. Plan Ahead

Maybe you’re more of a play-it-by-ear type, but when it comes to a weight loss program, it always helps to come up with some outline before you get started. Not only does this allow you to measure progress as you continue on your weight loss journey, but it also makes it much more likely that you’ll succeed. For example, if you rid your house of munchies and sugary drinks before you start dieting, you’ll face much less temptation. 

If you know you’ll be dieting and trying to stay away from carbs, planning low-carb meals ahead of time is a great way to make sure you can meet your macros. Similarly, outlining a fitness routine allows you to target places where you’d like to build muscle mass or put more emphasis on weight loss, whichever is your priority at that time. 

To plan before you start dieting, you might want to visit a dietitian or a similar healthcare provider if at all possible. They can help you understand what kind of vitamins and minerals your body is missing and all the particular ways your body functions. 

2. Use a Goal Weight Calculator (But Be Careful!)

The internet is full of websites that feature a goal weight calculator. They are usually based on one or more of a handful of goal weight formulas devised by dietitians over the last few decades. That’s at least better than using flawed calculations like body mass index (BMI) that asks for strange metrics like “frame size” and doesn’t consider an individual’s body fat percentage. A goal weight calculator is not going to be enough on its own for setting a goal weight, but it can at least get you in the ballpark. 

One of the biggest problems with using a goal weight calculator is that most don’t offer a comprehensive look at all the necessary aspects of a weight loss program. For example, they don’t mention calorie deficits in terms of nutrition. So using a goal weight calculator often leads to lopsided weight loss programs that are unhealthy in the long run. If you use a goal weight calculator to get started and then speak with a dietitian and outline the other parts of your weight loss program that the calculator doesn’t include, you should have a workable and effective weight loss program.

3. Manage Your Calorie Intake With Macros

A calorie deficit is essential to any weight loss program. The body must use more energy than it consumes if you want to lose weight. However, many people rely on fad diets like dirty keto or go completely carb-free when what they should be doing is measuring the number of nutrients they consume with macros and fitting a calorie deficit into that framework. Macros are a much healthier way to meet a weight loss goal. They also help set a realistic goal because any weight you can’t lose on a properly constructed macro diet might just be part of your body’s natural weight. Speaking of which…

4. Find Your Body’s Natural Weight

DNA, genetics, hormones, and lifestyle habits all affect the natural weight of your body, which is the weight your body is geared toward. Rather than being a definite weight, natural weight is a range within which your body tends to settle. If you hit a plateau in your weight loss program, it may well be that your body has hit the lower end of its natural weight range. There are ways to get around it, but they are often extreme and don’t tend to lead to healthy lifestyle changes. 

One of the best healthy ways to shred fat and alter your body’s natural set point is strength training. It’s better than cardio for maintaining a toned physique in a healthy way. Just remember that strength training builds muscle mass and that will make the numbers on the scale increase. That being said, lean muscle is a great use of body weight.

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5. Understand Your Water Weight

Water is the best way to stay healthy whether you’re in the middle of a weight loss program or not. It helps prevent annoying water weight from getting in the middle of your weight loss plan and has many other health benefits, including lowering blood pressure. Water filters toxins and extra material out of the body. It also reduces appetite. Plus, replacing any sugary or alcoholic beverages with water will go a long way in reducing your calorie intake during your weight loss program.

Remember that your water weight will appear and vanish rapidly and the number on the scale could reflect this. Don’t be discouraged if you hit a plateau. Make sure you’re drinking enough water to make sure your body isn’t retaining fluid. You can also drink tea or coffee or eat foods with high water content.

6. Set a Goal Weight With Friends

Peer pressure is one of the best ways to stick to a weight loss program. Everyone involved is accountable to everyone else and you won’t have the feeling like you’re the only person in the world who wants to make some lifestyle changes. Making a group weight loss plan can also help each participant set realistic goals. 

It’s usually difficult to compare fitness results because everyone’s body works differently and we all have different hormones and genes. However, setting weight goals as a group can prevent the worst overestimates from happening. Once the program has begun, it’s also helpful to have a small sample group to see what kind of effects the program is having. 

7. Make Sure You Can Measure Your Progress

Setting a goal weight is one of the best ways to measure progress during a weight loss program. There are some other tools such as trackers that can help you keep track of how many pounds you lost. The bathroom scale might be one other tool, but make sure to use it sparingly to prevent obsessing constantly over your weight. It’s best to weigh yourself once a week, preferably in the morning on a Monday or Tuesday to get the most consistent results. 

How Much Weight Can I Lose In One Day?

It takes about 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat. If you can manage that in a day, you’re a superhero. A more realistic goal is to try and cut out between 250 and 500 calories per day so that you can burn up to a pound of fat a week. This might seem slow, but it’s the best and most healthy way to lose weight and keep it off.

For people who are very overweight, it might even be possible to lose as many as 3 pounds in a single day. The body will burn more calories moving when a person as a higher bodyweight. Conversely, people with a lower starting weight will find it harder to lose weight generally speaking. 

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Be sure to weight yourelf before getting started, so that you know your current weight.

Starting Weight to Ideal Weight: When Should I Set a Weight Goal?

A medical provider or dietitian might recommend losing weight to improve blood pressure or achieve other health benefits, but the only person who can believe in a weight goal is you. For that reason, you should be the one implementing your weight loss program. You’ll be much more inspired to continue the program and keep lifestyle changes in place if the weight loss plan is self-driven. 


Weight management is a constant struggle. One of the best ways to stay motivated, measure progress, and cut pounds is to set a realistic weight goal for yourself before you begin any weight loss plan. It’s vital that this number takes into account your natural weight, willingness to make lifestyle changes, and how much time you have in your schedule to contribute to the weight loss program. Now that you have a better understanding of what a healthy weight goal is, it should be much easier to set and reach a realistic weight loss goal for yourself.

The important thing to remember about the people you see featured in Hollywood productions and Instagram ads is that they act or model professionally. They spend the majority of their time on fitness (or surgery) to look that way so they can be in various media. A healthy weight doesn’t look the same for all people. Not everyone has a Size 0 body type and that’s just fine. If you want to shed some pounds off your current weight, an important first step is to set a goal that is both healthy and realistic. 

Part of your weight loss program must involve a calorie goal as well as a fitness routine. According to some studies, the combination of both diet and exercise training leads to a significant reduction of body bass. Fad dieting must be avoided, as it can lead to an imbalance of essential amino acid tryptophan and cause a craving for carbs that could cause weight gain to wreck your dieting plan.

In recent years, there has been a general over-reliance on the body mass index, or BMI, rating. While it can be a fairly accurate measure of an individual’s ideal body fat level according to their frame size, a BMI rating doesn’t reveal any other information about other elements of the body composition such as resting glucose level, blood pressure, or the presence of disease that could affect one’s weight. Furthermore, it has been found that there is a limit to what the BMI rating says about the body fat percentage of an individual and whether they are healthy overall. 

Setting a healthy goal weight requires a holistic look at your body. Take into account your frame size, muscle mass, starting weight, activity level, and decide what lifestyle changes you’re prepared to make for the long haul. If you want to reach a certain ideal weight and keep the pounds off, those lifestyle changes will more than likely have to be permanent. 

Another common mistake when it comes to weight loss goals is for people to be too stubborn with them. If you do accidentally set an unrealistic goal, don’t be afraid to make adjustments once you see how much physical activity and dieting are realistically changing your body fat percentage. Even if that doesn’t mean changing your ideal weight, you should be open to admitting that your weight loss journey is going to take a little longer than originally planned if results are slow coming. 

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