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What's a safe and sane goal for weight loss?
Sure, I'd like to lose ten pounds in the next four days, but that's likely not healthy or practical.
I believe the recommendation is to set a goal to lose two pounds a week and a total goal of 10% of your body weight.
I agree with Carlin that one or two pounds a week is a safe and sane goal. Telling myself that I was eating right and exercising for my health and well being (rather to reach a goal weight or to be a certain size) helped motivate me in ways that nothing else has.
Weight goals tend to be specific to the way you push your body. In general you should try to loose 1 to 2 pounds per week. The hard part here is staying away from fad diets. Just remember this - exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. You didn't gain the weight over night and you won't loose it. And if someone tells you atkins worked for them RUN AWAY! All atkins does is take away carbs which depletes your bodies ability to store water (via glycogen cells). When this happens you can start to lose short memory, get moody and lose focus on day to day activities. At some point you must start to eat carbs again. When this happens your water stores re-fill re-gaining most of the weight. The unfortunate part now, since you didn't have carbs for a while your metabolism actually slowed down since it had less to digest. When you re-introduce the carbs your metabolism is now slower than before which will in most cases lead to higher weight gain than pre-atkins.
I believe there's a formula for safe and sane weigh loss and, you're right, it's recommended that unless you are obese that you stick with a goal of a couple of pounds a week. It's much easier on your body that way and turns out that it's easier to keep the weight off if you lose it gradually.
Speak with your doctor before embarking on any new diet or exercise routine. A doctor, nutritionist or weight loss expert can help you determine how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight and then how many calories you should cut if you want to lose weight.
You'll also need to add exercise to the mix. Most books, tapes, experts will tell you that merely dieting without exercising is just not going to get you the results you're after. Your body thinks you're starving it when you just cut calories. You need to feed your body to keep it strong and then find ways to burn the fat and tone your shape by turning some of that fat into muscle.