A health and wellness expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has suggested that the key to lose weight is to take it one step at a time.
Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., director of UAB Employee Wellness, explained that breaking down goals into smaller, more manageable short-term targets, like losing one to two pounds per week, instead of aiming for double-digit amounts, could lead to better chances of success.
"If we set lofty weight loss goals, like 10, 20 or 30-plus pounds, and we don't make progress quickly enough, it's too easy to get distracted and have our emotions convince us that the goal is not achievable," said Whitt.
"Once those first one or two pounds are lost, you can celebrate. Then the next mini-goal can become the focus," the researcher added.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a benefit to these smaller weight-loss goals: People who lose weight gradually and steadily are more successful at keeping the weight off. Since one pound equals 3,500 calories, the CDC recommends reducing caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
Another tactic to target weight management gradually is to stop focusing on losing the weight, but instead on not gaining a pound more.
Whitt said a team of people supporting you, whether in a contest or in an individual weight-loss plan, is crucial.
"They are the ones who can pick you up and encourage you on a day when it feels overwhelming. These same people will also challenge you to continue to push forward, helping to propel you to greatness and encourage your efforts," Whitt said.
Lastly, do not focus on failure, Whitt noted. If there is a week where the weight loss plateaus, or the total weight lost at the end of the timeframe set does not meet initial goals, persistence is crucial.
"If you put forth effort to achieve a goal and fall short, you still have accomplished a great amount, so be encouraged. Take a moment to be happy with your progress and remember that you still have the opportunity to set a new goal to achieve," Whitt added.