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I am 5' 5" and weight about 70kg (~154 lbs) and would like to set myself a concrete goal for weight loss, so I have two related questions:

  • How do I determine a suitable target.
  • What is an appropriate time period.

For the first I am aware that things like BMI are not useful but I would like some way of picking a realistic value to aim for. To use extremes as examples, aiming to 1kg would be a little pointless and aiming to lose 30kg would probably be dangerous. But 10kg? I don't know.

I know that weight isn't necessarily the best metric to use, but it is a simple one and at the moment is better than nothing.

I have read that body fat percentage may be a better thing to focus on. If so, the same questions would apply: what to target and over what time range. I do not know what my current percentage is, but is on my todo list to find out.

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What is a good metric for defining an ideal weight should help. Waist measurements are probably the easiest and best related to health. Body fat percentage measurements takes a little more effort but is also better than weight. –  BackInShapeBuddy Dec 27 '13 at 19:16
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1 Answer

The first step in figuring out both questions is figuring out what weight you want to be at. From there you can figure out the difference between your current weight and your ideal weight. For example, say you want to get to 144 lbs. 154 lbs - 144 lbs = 10 lbs. Because it takes 3500 calories to burn 1 lb of fat [1], you can calculate it will take a 35,000 calorie deficit to lose 10 lbs. If you subtract 250 calories a day, it will take you around 4.6 months to reach your goal. It's important to be realistic though, and acknowledge there will be some days you eat over your caloric budget. There will also be some days where you eat under your caloric budget. Keeping both these things in your head, its important to gauge your progress on a weekly basis. There are a few ways you can do this.

  1. Myfitness Pal is a smartphone app and website that allows you to count calories in and out via exercise. Its not something to be used as an EXACT number of calories in and out, but it will give you an idea of how the things and amounts of things you have been eating, contribute to how you now look and feel. I left a link to the homepage of Myfitness pal below.

  2. Pay attention to how you look in the mirror. Its very easy to be biased in a situation like this, but try to honestly take inventory of how you look compared to how you have looked before. To avoid making this subjective, look for objective sings that your making weight loss progress, for example, are you more vascular? does your skin seem/look tighter?

As time goes on and you continue evaluating yourself, continue to tweak your calorie levels according to how you look, and how you want to look.

Note - Calorie counting isn't a necessary part of losing weight, but it is an extremely useful one. If you can keep track of your diet mentally then feel free to not count a single calorie. However, keeping track of food choices and quantities can without a doubt help you learn more about how your diet and body composition work together.

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096405/

  2. Myfitness pal - http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

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Calorie counting is all about awareness, you'll be surprised about the energetic contents of some products. On the other hand, diet is just as important: you can restrict your calories and at the same time getting them all from unhealthy, food. That won't help much for a good body health. –  AutomatedChaos Dec 24 '13 at 7:20
    
Some useful information there, but I can't help feeling the first sentence is a little circular. To me it seems like you are saying "To know how much you need to lose, you have to know how much you need to lose". Part of the question is the problem is not knowing what value to aim for. Can you offer any further clarification/advice? –  Burhan Ali Dec 26 '13 at 22:06
    
@ Burhan Ali - Apologies if the first sentence seemed a little too "zen" to understand. Based on your questions, the focus was on selecting a suitable weight loss target, and selecting a time period to take in reaching that goal. Because what a "suitable" goal is for you might be "unsuitable" for me, I can't really pick a suitable weight for you to drop to and explicitly tell you to drop x amount of pounds. That's why i gave an example just to illustrate a way you could pick an amount of weight to lose, and figure out a reasonable time period in which to lose it. Let me know if this helps. –  Anabolic Animal Dec 27 '13 at 1:21
    
@AnabolicAnimal I've read you answer again bearing in mind what you said in your comment and I agree that it helps answer the second of my questions (time range). Sadly this is dependent on the first part (amount to lose) so I may just have to pick an arbitrary amount and see how it goes. –  Burhan Ali Jan 1 at 23:50
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