6 Realistic Things to Expect When You’re Trying to Lose Weight



Warning: You are not going to find a six-step plan for losing weight and getting in shape in this post. There are plenty of other articles online that tackle these topics. (You should feel free to read them, but remember to absorb some of the information with caution: Consider the source and take any blanket, one-size-fits-all statements with a grain of salt.)

I’m here to tell you that weight loss is not all about what foods you eat or what exercises you do. Understanding the mental and physical hurdles you’re going to face during your weight-loss journey can be critical to the success of your program. So without going into too much detail about how to lose weight, we’re going to discuss what you should realistically expect while you’re on your weight-loss journey.

1. Slower is better.

Many dieters have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they should be losing weight. Open any fitness magazine and you can read about someone who lost 30 pounds in 30 days. Or you can watch The Biggest Loser and see people who have lost nine pounds in a week. But the reality is that losing weight that quickly simply isn’t healthy. Many studies show that those who lose weight rapidly are more likely to gain it back. It’s best to aim for half a pound to two pounds per week for weight loss results that stick in the long run. Your patience will be rewarded when you keep your weight off for good.

2. It’s not always about the number on the scale. 

Eating right and exercising regularly reap many benefits other than weight loss, such as more energy, better sleep, less stress, and a reduced risk of several diseases. Whether you lose weight or not, you’ll receive all of those unseen benefits and more. While losing a certain amount of pounds feel like the most critical goal, it’s important to realize it’s not the only indicator that you’re on the right track.

3. Weight loss can vary from week to week. 

I’m willing to bet that no two weeks of your life have ever been exactly the same; everything varies, from how many hours you slept to the foods you ate to how much physical activity you got. So why would you expect to lose the same exact amount of weight every single week? Some weeks you may lose two pounds and some weeks you may not lose any weight at all.

It’s important to evaluate each week and figure out why you did or did not lose weight that week. Maybe you ate out less and walked more on the weeks you lost, and you ate out more and only got in one workout on the weeks you didn’t lose. By evaluating the weeks in which you didn’t lose weight, you’ll set yourself up to be better prepared for the weeks ahead.

4. Weight loss is not immediate.

Eating well and getting in a workout today will not necessarily result in weight loss by the end of the day or even the next day. Your body weight can fluctuate from day to day whether you’re doing a good job with diet and exercise or not. These fluctuations are most likely due to food intake and water retention. Knowing this, it’s important not to obsess over the number on the scale every single day. The weight most likely came on over a period of months or years, so don’t expect to lose it in a couple weeks.

5. Eating less is not always the answer.

Sure, there are tons of people looking to lose weight that eat far too much, and eating less is definitely a major component to their weight loss. But dieters should be very careful about dipping too low and eating too little. After a prolonged period of time of eating an extremely low amount of calories, the body adapts, and your metabolism begins to slow down to conserve energy, which burns fewer calories and results in little to no weight loss. Not a very good solution for long-term weight loss and health.

6. The goal is to lose fat, not just weight.

Let’s say you just lost 20 pounds. That’s fantastic, isn’t it? Well, what if 12 of those pounds were muscle? Not only would you now look “skinny fat,” your metabolism would actually be slower now than it was when you were heavier. Your goal shouldn’t be to lose weight, but to lose fat. Losing pounds of muscle will do way more harm than good, so you should focus on losing fat instead of overall weight. By eating the appropriate amount of calories and staying on an effective exercise program that records your body composition (i.e. body-fat percentage), you can ensure you’re losing the right kind of weight: fat.


Brian Maher is the owner of Philly Personal Training, a private personal training studio in the Rittenhouse Square area. He and his staff of personal trainers offer packages to busy individuals looking to make lifestyle changes by improving their overall fitness and wellness.  Read all of Brian’s posts for Be Well Philly here.

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