As a society, our expectations of weight loss are completely skewed.
It’s not our fault, we’ve actually been set up to expect one thing when the reality is typically very different.
This weight loss misconception comes from television shows and social media that present people losing enormous amounts of weight in one month or ever week. We are told about 30-day dieting programs that lead to rapid weight loss: people dropping 10, 20, even 30, pounds in a month.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first regarding weight loss before I even dive into what is actually realistic: yes, you can lose a large amount of weight and see the scale drop quite a bit using starvation dieting, liquid dieting, or other extreme forms of dieting and extreme levels of exercise where maybe you’re exercising for multiple hours a day.
Yes, you absolutely can have quick weight loss results of more than 10 pounds doing that. However, much of that weight loss comes from a loss of water, a loss of muscle, and very little fat. You’re also putting yourself into a situation where you’re more than likely going to regain that weight back as soon as you begin living normally again and you stop extreme dieting and you stop extreme exercising. And if you are the type of person who is doing rapid weight loss and extreme dieting frequently you can open yourself up to sever health risks. So this is not what I’m talking about.
I’m not talking about what kind of extreme measures you can use to lose an extreme amount of weight very quickly. I’m talking about when you have a healthy, sane exercise and diet program.
How much weight loss is realistic?
Before I get to that, I first want to emphasize three points to keep in mind when it comes to weight loss:
- The scale is going to go up and down day to day, and week to week. It is completely normal to see the scale drop a pound or two, and then see that scale come back up. Weight loss is not linear and you shouldn’t expect it to be.
- Your clothes can fit better, you can look and feel better, you can even appear leaner and tighter and not see the scale budge one bit. You need to know that you can still be making progress even if the scale never moves once. That’s why I always recommend not just using a scale, but using measurements and photos as well as how you’re clothes fit and how you feel to assess your progress.
- Weight loss is going to vary greatly depending on an individual. And there are a lot of factors at play here. Some of it is just our genetics, some of us tend to lose or gain weight in larger amounts or more easily. Additionally, where you’re starting from is going to dictate a lot of how much movement you see on the scale. If you have a lot of weight to lose and you’re mostly sedentary you will see much larger numbers and a much greater amount of weight loss, especially in the beginning of a diet and exercise program. Then it will begin to level off. If you’re already someone who’s eating healthy and working out regularly, you’re not going to see those huge numbers because it’s not as much of a lifestyle change or shift for your body.
When it comes to weight loss when you’re dieting and exercising with a sane program that is maintainable, what is realistic?
A half a pound of weight loss per week, on average.
This means you might see a pound one week, then no loss the next week. Then two pounds down, a half a pound up, then back down a pound. Do not expect weight loss to be consistent or linear.
Be patient and be prepared to spend months if not years working on your weight loss goals.
If you can be realistic about your weight loss goals, you’re less likely to feel frustrated and give up because you feel as if you’re not making progress or that what you’re doing isn’t working.
Even a half a pound of true weight loss is progress.
At that rate you could lose 25 pounds in a year. It may not sound like much, but if you keep it off that’s actually an incredible achievement, and worth waiting for. Even 25 pounds is a heck of a lot better than zero.