Most of us take some time around New Years to reflect back on the year past and forward to the year to come. We think about our successes, and what we could have done better. Some of us make resolutions as a way to help us grow or improve in the coming year. It was in this spirit that I examined my progress as I came to the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012. I looked back on my remarkable weight loss up to that point and wanted to set a goal for 2012 that would be impressive, yet attainable.
Most people set goals of "X" number of pounds each week or month. If you were to ask your doctor what was a safe rate to lose weight they might offer you the classic standard of "two pounds a week" as being healthy, but warn you going above that is dangerous. But weight loss is not that simple. Everyone is different. For a 135 pound woman who only needs to lose 5 pounds, 2 pounds a week is a lot of weight. But to someone who weighs in excess of 400 pounds, 2 pounds in a week is nothing. Obviously, "X" number of pounds per week or month is a stab in the dark at best, and would need to be continually recalculated as you lost more and more weight.
Then I remember reading about losing a percentage of your body weight each week, not a set number of pounds. This made more sense to me. Jeff Novick says:
"On average, you should be able to safely and healthfully lose about 1% of your weight a week and maybe even more. That is an average over time and some weeks will be better and some weeks will be less. While it may not seem like much, if you multiply the number out by 12 weeks or 24 weeks or 52 weeks, this could be 24, 48 or 100 lbs lost.."
Looking back on my weight loss up to that point I saw that I had been maintaining a weight loss of just a bit under 1% my body weight per week. So it was settled! 1% of my body weight per week would be a goal that would push me to do better than I had been while being a safe and attainable goal. On my next weigh-in, which was February 8th, 2012, I weighed 361 pounds. I plotted out a chart from that date and that weight calculating 1% of my body weight per week, recalculated each week for the expected reduction in weight. Since that particular day was a Wednesday and since I routinely weighed on Wednesday back then, the entire graph was plotted out assuming weigh-in day would be on Wednesday. So what did the chart say I should weigh this past Wednesday? 214.25 pounds. What was my Ten-Day-Average for this past Wednesday? 214.40 pounds. There have been slight ups and downs over the course of the past year, as the chart below shows, but for the most part I've followed that path right on down and over the course of one year and almost 150 pounds I've ended up within 0.15 of a pound of that goal!
Note that first the projected weight loss is laid down in a red line and the actual weight loss laid down over it in blue. Where you see only blue is where I was right on target and where you see both blue and red is where I strayed a bit. Where the blue ends and the red continues is, of course, the present time, with the red continuing on to project a continued 1% weight loss per week.
1% of your body weight per week is a safe and attainable goal for your weight loss. It has built into it the understanding that the bigger you are the more weight you can safely lose in one week and the smaller you are the less weight you can safely lose in one week. At the start of this I was losing 3.6 pounds per week. Now, about 2.1 pounds per week. Yet it's the same steady percentage. When I get closer to my goal I'll only be losing 1.8 or 1.7 pounds per week, less than what my doctor tells me I should!
-Norm aka John Smith