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Setting Weight Loss Goals: Expectations vs Reality

“I want to lose weight.” It’s the number one reason given to PT’s for joining a gym or embarking on a new fitness routine. Weight loss pressure is heavy, and a burden that the vast majority of us experience more than once throughout our lifetime. Despite the ever-present images of fit lean celebrities and athletes that we’re confronted with on a daily basis, achieving and maintaining the so-called ‘perfect body’ is no walk in the park, and for most of us, it’s simply unrealistic. We come in all different shapes and sizes, true success in weight loss is about finding our own personal ‘perfect weight’ and carefully putting the steps in place to have it become our reality.

Could you be setting yourself up for disappointment by carrying the weight of unrealistic expectations?



Realistic Weight Loss Expectations

You begin a new weight loss regime, motivated and driven, only to become discouraged and give up when the results are underwhelming, sound familiar? It is important to remember that everyone’s body works differently. The great weight loss success stories are all around us, why doesn’t it work like that for you? You might feel like you’ve ‘tried everything,’ all the latest fads and diets and ‘nothing works.’ It’s true there is no magic pill. But there are fundamentals we have to get right on the road to success. Just like a career, there’ll be mistakes, stumbles and trips along the way. We learn from these, notch them up to experience and keep going.

The fundamental keys to losing weight:

  • Mindset
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Support
  • Planning

Each of these fundamentals work together to help you achieve your goals. If you approach any one of them with unrealistic expectations, it’s probably going to be an uphill battle. So, let’s begin with mindset.

Start with a Realistic Weight Loss Mindset

#1 NEVER aspire to look like someone else. You can admire others’ physiques, sure; but not in replacement of your own self-love. Yeah, wouldn’t we all love to look like Margot Robbie? But guess what? When Margot is prepping for a role (in her already svelte frame) she bans almost all saturated fats and processed foods from her diet, works out five days per week following a strict weight, ab and cardio routine for four hours at a time, and does 100 sit ups per day. She also ice skates, plays ice hockey and boxes. She permits herself the occasional glass of wine or two, and if she has to get into a bikini…she’ll “eat carrot sticks for three days.” For everyone who is not Margot, that’s not a realistic regime.

Carrying a few (or quite a few) extra kilos is really no biggie as long as you love yourself regardless. You’ll find it a whole lot easier to drop the kgs off your body if you’re not searching for someone else when you look in the mirror. Simply aspire for a more confident, vibrant, healthier, happier you.


Diet and Nutritional Expectations

Successful weight loss comes from managing expectations, and you have to realise that expectations are different from goals. We may expect to avoid the temptation of unhealthy treats 24 hours a day, 7 times a week, however this is not only unreasonable – it isn’t a realistic weight loss goal. And guess how you feel when you’re staring at an empty tub of Ben & Jerry’s?

Things like “I will eat perfectly at every meal” and “I will not touch chocolate” should be replaced with an overall goal of x kilograms with manageable goals attached to this such as “I will eat x amount of calories a day”, and “I will plan and stick to three days of meal plans per week, and “I will keep a regular food diary.” And DON’T beat yourself if the ice-cream wins sometimes.


The Right Exercise For YOU

There are weight loss workouts and there are fitness activities.

“I’m going to train hard at the gym three days per week.” But then something happens. Bad weather, sick children, too many people, fit people. Not sure how to use the equipment. Intimidated. Unmotivated. Disappointed. This is more common than a cold. The trick is to find what it is that you really LOVE doing. Engage a PT to help you discover what you enjoy that will ultimately help you ‘turn up’ and have fun, rather than lose weight. Your focus in fitness should be happiness and enjoyment, not fat and goals. If it doesn’t feel like a chore, you’ll want to do more. And more is good!


Weight Loss Goal Planning

Focusing intensely on a goal can motivate us, but it can also drive us to be overly self-critical. You might set a goal of losing x kilos by a certain date. But how are you going to feel if you reach that date and you haven’t reached that goal? It’s a free ticket on the “give up express.” Instead, have micro-goals if you’re working with time frames, so when you reach and probably exceed that goal, you’re pleasantly surprised…even proud of yourself! If you’re feeling confident and in the groove, up the goal ante…but remember to keep it real.

It’s less about the goals and more about the journey.

Plan everything. Yep you need to plan your weeks – but not to the letter. Plan at least three days of meal plans, at least three fitness sessions (whether that be at the gym, or outdoors) and PLAN for sleep. Our body burns fat while we’re sleeping…clever thing. A minimum of 7hrs per night is a must for weight loss.


Setbacks are Part of the Journey NOT the End

Deciding how to deal with our mistakes is one of the first steps towards beginning a healthy weight loss journey. One setback is sometimes enough to discourage us all together, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Rather than “giving it all up” when you skip the gym or eat one day’s worth of calories in a moment of weakness, remember this – “one bad meal/missed training session doesn’t make you fat, just as one healthy meal/completed training session doesn’t make you skinny”.

If your setback comes in the form of an injury, remember that our bodies have an incredible memory. Although it may be difficult, getting moving again will never be as hard as it was at the start.

Persistence Makes Perfect

Achieving healthy and long-lasting weight loss is a challenge, and you have to ensure that you revisit the fundamentals and check that you’re focusing on them in a positive way.

If you work towards these fundamentals with a positive mindset as opposed to dwelling on constant negativity (I can’t eat this, I’m not allowed that) you will find that working out and eating well becomes a lot more enjoyable. What happens when you enjoy doing something? You want to do MORE of it. Once you start enjoying losing weight…you’ve nailed it!

Happy healthy living here we come.


If you need help setting realistic weight loss goals or dealing with setbacks, make an appointment with one of our incredible personal trainers! We live to help people enjoy fitness and realise their ideal selves, and would love to hear from you. Ready to feel good? Contact us today!