Once you decide to truly commit to losing weight, there are a lot of looming questions. What should my weight loss goals be? How many calories should I eat every day? Low carb? No Carb? Low fat? How much should I exercise?
Before you answer any of those questions, you have to answer the biggest one—one that too few guys ask themselves. And that question is “how do I set the right goal for myself?”
Unfortunately, many men set an arbitrary, pie-in-the sky goal that’s based on—well, nothing, really. Some pick a round number that “feels” right. Some decide they have to lose enough to get back to their college weight. Some actually do some research and pick a number that’s based on what they should weigh for their height. But even this can be tricky.
The first step in accomplishing a goal is making sure that it’s reasonable. A goal that isn’t challenging enough may not get you the results you really need. And a goal that’s too far out of reach may cause you to get discouraged and quit. So how do you know what’s reasonable?
A reasonable goal will keep your lifestyle, age, and natural build in mind, and help you lose weight slowly and safely.
Significant lifestyle changes can be hard to sustain in the long term. For example, If you’ve got a sedentary job and a sedentary lifestyle, and you’re considerably overweight, you can’t reasonably expect to begin running marathons and living on vegetables from one day to the next, hoping to drop 30 pounds in the next two months. If you’ve got a hectic job, you’re always on the go, and you eat a lot of fast food, you can’t expect to drop a whole bunch of weight by suddenly hand-preparing all of your own meals and fitting an hour of exercise a day into your already-packed schedule. You will only be able to keep up a strenuous regimen you’re completely unused to for a short while, and even if you lose weight, you will likely eventually give up and gain it back.
Your best bet is to set small, attainable weight loss goals that—even if they fall outside of your comfort zone—that fit with your lifestyle and personality type. If you’re sedentary, get yourself used to walking 30 minutes three times a week, and increase your walk lengths gradually. If you’re hopelessly busy, find healthy convenience foods in the supermarket, like ready-to-go salads and chopped fruit to replace fast food meals.
If you’re over 30, you can have a great physique, but you can never have the physique you had at 18. Unless you’re really genetically blessed or become seriously ill, you can also never be the weight that you were at 18. Bodies change, things shift, and metabolisms slow with age. So if you’re comparing yourself with your former self, you may need to lose less weight than you think. Shoot for reaching a healthy weight for your age rather than recapturing your youth.
Body Type Goals
If you are large-boned and muscular, you will never be as svelte as someone who’s smaller-boned and naturally lean. You simply can’t change your bone or muscle mass structure through exercise or diet. Muscle mass can throw off your BMI, or weight-to-height ratio, making you seem farther away from your goal than you are. And your metabolism may differ from another guy who’s your same height and weight. You may need to eat or exercise more or less to reach your goals.
The moral of the story? Don’t depend on an arbitrary, self-imposed weight goal. You should also talk to a dietician or your physician to determine the weight loss goals that are right for you, and learn safe weight loss habits.