How Much Weight Should I Lose?

How much weight do you want to lose?  10 pounds?  20 pounds? 30, 40, 50 or more?  When I was so overweight, the thought of losing over 150 pounds was absolutely daunting.  I honestly could not see how it would be possible to lose over half of my body weight.  If you are not overweight by such a large amount, it still may seem impossible for you to lose the amount of weight you desire.  Your 20 pounds may seem as unattainable to you as my 150 pounds did to me.  For me, as time marched by and my weight didn’t budge I tried to stop thinking about how much I needed to lose, and for a while I stopped trying to lose weight. 

But the day finally came when I got serious and committedto weight loss.  If you ever listen to Dave Ramsey, you will recall he often tells people to focus on their debt with gazelle like intensity.  That’s what I did.  I focused on myself and my health with the intensity of a gazelle.  For once I didn’t let myself get distracted by the amount of weight I should lose and give up.  Like the gazelle, who uses intense visual awareness of its surroundings to stay alive in their habitat, I used intense mental focus to stay on course.  In my weight loss attempts, one big distraction for me had always been the amount of weight I had to lose.  Let’s be real here – 150 pounds is an average size woman.  My neighbor at the time probably weighed about 150 pounds.  I needed to lose her. 

As I started to have success, and people could finally tell I was losing weight, I was bombarded with questions like, “How much weight are you going to lose? When will you stop? How do you know when you’ve lost the right amount?”  I vaguely answered these queries.  You see, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to weigh, because it had been so long since I had been a normal weight.  I had determined that I wouldn’t focus on the number of pounds lost, but rather on how I was feeling about myself.  The first time I saw 199 on the scale was a day of rejoicing.  Hallelujah!  But I wasn’t done yet.  I didn’t feel done.  I hadn’t quite reached the point of satisfaction with my physical abilities and my appearance. 

From there, as the scale crept slowly down, I would often assess where I was. 

  • Clothing size
  • Activity level
  • Self-esteem
  • Energy level
  • Blood pressure 
  • Appearance 

I realized that for me, the number on the scale had become less important to me than how I felt about myself.  At almost 5′10″ did it really matter physically if I was 170 or 150 pounds?  No.  But as I started to get closer to an appropriate weight for my height, I could tell I was almost done losing weight.  When I reached the point where I felt confident and energetic  I knew I was finished.  I had reached all the goals I set for myself.  I could finally run without thinking I was dying.  I could shop in a regular sized store.  I didn’t waddle when I walked.  People had stopped asking me if I was pregnant.  My blood pressure was great.  I was done. 

I learned a lot about myself during those 14 months.  One thing I learned was it’s not always about the number on the scale.  There are a lot of mitigating circumstances surrounding weight and each person, preferably with their doctor’s input, should examine where they desire to be.  And then try.  Try again, because if you don’t try again, how will you ever know if today would have been the day for you?  Diane

Today is the last day to enter the Gym In A Bag Giveaway! I will close comments at midnight CST! Thanks to everyone who entered. You will love, love, love it!

  

38 thoughts on “How Much Weight Should I Lose?

  1. JourneyBeyondSurvival says:

    How’d it go in NY? Or did Snowcalypse 2010 strike again?

    I’ve used a lot of things to help me decide my goal. I will have to adjust it as I get there of course. The first time I lost 30 pounds, I was ‘attacked’ by both grandmothers and my mom telling me I was too skinny. I was still 10 pounds away from a 24 bmi. I let them influence me, and the weight started creeping back on.

    I’ve learned since to listen to my body and my capacity to maintain the weight. I can’t spend 2 hours at the gym everyday. I can’t live without a couple of treats in a week forever. I can eat healthy fresh food and exercise 5-6 times a week. THis means my goal weight is 170 @ 5’11”. That puts my bmi at around 23, and I will watch my %bdy fat.

    woah, sorry to go on and on. This is a really personalized question!
    .-= JourneyBeyondSurvival´s last blog ..Pause, Murmur, Exhale =-.

  2. Diane says:

    For me there is the “ideal” number that the charts list, and it is currently a focal point for me, but not one set in stone for several reasons. That number is 145 – a mere 105 lbs from where I am as of Monday. My own thought is to first get out of the 200’s, and then judge how I feel and look as to what point I will stop at. The number on the scale is simply an indicator- there are so many other ways to know that you are there !
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Remind me that rice wine vinegar is evil…please ? =-.

  3. Hanlie says:

    I am not concerned with scale number or measurements anymore… I have learned that everybody has a weight where the body functions optimally and everything is in balance. My job is to find that balance through good nutrition and lifestyle practices and then keep up the good work. I have no idea what that weight might actually be.
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Thank you for the music =-.

  4. Laura says:

    The last time I lost weight (the only time!) I ended with 150 pounds. It’s a BMI of 26.2. I know that it’s not in the range, but it’s near the healty range. I know that I can’t go further than this, because I tried and it was impossible (eating about 1200 calories/day and running 8 Km/day, I can’t do more).

    My objective now is focused on exercise and on being able to run this 8 Km 3 to 5 days/week. When I will be able to do it and I do it each week, I will know that I’m done.

  5. Mia says:

    This is a very thought provoking entry. (Actually, all your entries are thought provoking.)

    I am currently reassessing where I am at with my weight. I weigh within the “normal weight range” but because of arthritis, I feel that I should weigh at the low end of this range. Better on the joints. Lately, I have been having a flare and with each step, I am reminded of this.

    Mia

  6. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Great post Diane. This is so true. I remember wanting to be 100-105 pounds for my 5’1″ body when I was losing weight. Then I started lifting weights too & saw that I could still weigh more & be small too. It is not always the scale. I wear a smaller size now then when I was the same weight in my 20’s.

    Hope you are enjoying Dr. Oz!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Thursday Leg Workout =-.

  7. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    I ended up being at the right weight once I started to focus no my health and making good choices consistently. It’s actually a little less than I would have “hoped” for, but it feels right. I have a little “wiggle room” for treats, but my blood pressure is great, I have energy to run after my 2 year-old, I have a lot more muscle than ever before, and I enjoy getting dressed… 🙂 Looking back at when I was at least 50 pounds heavier, I think it was important for me not to get too focused on a certain number as it would have seemed too daunting to lose 50 pounds. I pretty much took it 10 pounds at a time and decided to see where I’d end up…

    Hope you are enjoying the Dr. Oz Show!!!!
    .-= Andrea@WellnessNotes´s last blog ..A Weekend Treat =-.

  8. Tanya says:

    I asked my doctor this on Monday. My personal goal was to get to a healthy BMI which would put me at 145. When I made that goal, I decided a maintenance range of 140-145 would be good. My doctor said 140 would be great, but that extra 5 pounds is just icing on the cake (or off the cake!) at this point. He also said trying to get to a BMI of 20 when I started off at 42 is probably unrealistic.

  9. Jen-JensFitnessTips.com says:

    The scale can be scary!! It’s all about how you feel! I honestly hate the scale. People get obsessed with it. You can be 130-150 pounds maybe and still think you are not thin enough, but when in reality, you are fit because of muscle! People always forget that muscle burns away fat but has mass! When you lose weight, you feel better. I measure it with my clothes. My clothes are looser….that always makes me feel awesome. Don’t compare yourself to others (easier said than done). Losing weight and maintaing weight is hard work but with hard work comes results, confidence, and so much more!

    Thanks for sharing!! Jen 🙂
    .-= Jen-JensFitnessTips.com´s last blog ..5 Reasons Swimming Will Make You Look and Feel AMAZING… =-.

  10. Leah says:

    I definitely can’t think about how much total I should lose. I keep a number in mind, but I have to take it each 5 lbs at a time…and lately that’s even been rough.

    This is a post for me to tuck away for future reference. 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear about NY.

  11. Jill says:

    The intensity of a gazelle. That’s what I lack. I get so distracted by things like cake and cookies that I lose all focus and feel like I am perpetually taking one step forward and then one step back – never moving in a forward direction for very long.

    How do you get that kind of focus? What do you tell a non-type A personality in order for her to be as intense as a gazelle?
    .-= Jill´s last blog ..Dear me =-.

  12. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for this post. Truthfully, I’m not really sure what I want my goal weight to be- I know at the end of 2010 I want to have lost 100lbs which will put me at 250- man, the thought of losing another 100lbs after that does seems daunting. Who knows- maybe I will be happy at 180, maybe not. We shall see!
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Day #39: Random Ramblings… =-.

  13. Stacy says:

    I am more focused on the fit of my clothes. I still had all my “skinny” clothes saved for the day I would actually “focus like a gazelle”. I’d say I still have around 5 lbs to lose to get back into everything BUT if I get off my tush and work out, I know the scale won’t move much off of where I’m at right now. I do know that I would be more toned, and I would continue to burn fat. I am at my normal weight right now, just much flabbier.
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..The differences between boys and girls =-.

  14. Sandi says:

    My main concern when losing weight was feeling better. I evaluated how I felt at different weights like you did. Originally I thought 150 would be my goal, but when I got there I wanted to be able to run more easily. I ended up dropping another 13 pounds which makes it so much easier to run. 150 would have been the top end of a healthy BMI for me, now I’m in the middle. I think a balance of where you feel good and are able to maintain with a reasonable amount of effort is great. I love reading your blog because you are very balanced in your efforts to maintain. Hope your trip is going well, and you are having fun!

  15. Taryl says:

    I definitely try not to put too much stock in numbers, especially toward the ‘goal’ end of my journey. Here at higher weights the numbers give me tangibles to shoot for, like the weight I’d like to be for our insurance, onederland, or the smallest I was in high school. Down to 160, I feel comfortable using numbers because they are all attainable to me.

    Below 160, I’m focusing a LOT less on the scale (I hope it works out like that, anyway!) and will fine tune my loss to how I look, feel, and what seems to be comfortable to maintain without Herculean effort. 140 may be out of
    my reach – I may always be overweight for my BMI because of my body and build. But if I have health and self confidence, I’ve still achieved everything I could hope for.
    .-= Taryl´s last blog ..My most recent pre-pregnancy(ish) pictures =-.

  16. Gloria Roberts says:

    I have battled wt most of my adult life. My wt has been like a yoyo. It took me over 60yrs to realize it is lifestyle change. I have lost 36lbs since August and I include pool walking as part of lifestyle commitment. This looks like something I could do to add to my life. I need to lose 10lbs befor they will put me on schedule for knee replacement and 10 more for surgery. Total of 20 but WILL not stop at that as I want to lose wt for my benefit and God’s Glory

  17. Gloria Roberts says:

    I have battled wt most of my adult life. My wt has been like a yoyo. It took me over 60yrs to realize it is lifestyle change. I have lost 36lbs since August and I include pool walking as part of lifestyle commitment. This looks like something I could do to add to my life. I need to lose 10lbs befor they will put me on schedule for knee replacement and 10 more for surgery. Total of 20 but WILL not stop at that as I want to lose wt for my benefit and God’s Glory

  18. Sagan says:

    You always make me smile.

    I feel the same way. It’s the FEELING of it all, not necessarily the number on the scale, that guides us to our healthy weight.

    When I wanted to get healthy and lose a few pounds, I decided to lose just 9 lbs. And I was happy there for nearly a year. And then I realized that I would be able to be even MORE fit and strong if I lost a bit more fat and put on a bit more muscle, so I lost another 10 lbs. And now I am at a very healthy/happy weight indeed. It all depends on our perspective and what we’re FEELING works for us.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Grocery Shopping, “Living Healthy in the Real World” Style =-.

  19. Kat says:

    This is a great post Diane. I am not sure how much I need to lose. I have a rough idea, but I think I am going to follow your advice and see how it feels when I get there. Right now I have decided to push forward for the next 35 pounds and shoot for the hundred pound mark. I know I will have more after this, but I am hoping to take this on between now and the summer…:-)
    You are a very good role model. Thank you.
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..Never too late… =-.

  20. christieo says:

    Great post, Diane! I have to say, the 50 pounds I wanted to lose did seem so daunting, I had to completely erase it from my mind and do it in 10 pound increments. When I got to the “new decade”, I felt invigorated and wanted more. it was like built in motivation. that’s what i did. i love the gazelle reference! and you’re so right about all those factors, that’s when i knew when i was close too, by checking those off one by one!

  21. Miz says:

    absolutely nothing to add even after two read throughs 🙂

    FANTASTIC POST.I thought id be done when I fit into my interview suits again…and I was…but it was also after my MOODS STABILIZED 🙂 and I was finallyfinally energetic again.
    .-= Miz´s last blog ..Dontcha… (guest post) =-.

  22. Julie says:

    Wonderful post! The “charts” say that my 5’11” BMI at a normal range should be 136-172. As a 3-sport athlete in high school, I weighed 176. Currently at 265 (down from 311), my Dr. told me that anything under 200 would be fabulous — and I have to agree with her. It’s very hard to think about losing well over 100 pounds. Having a realistic goal to shoot for is a great first step. I’ll be ecstatic to be back under 200 — getting close to the 180s will be pretty perfect for me. I understand that’s in the lower “overweight” range for my chart, but it’ll be great for me, having been in the morbidly obese range for over a decade. It is a little easier to think about now that I’m 50 pds down. I hope it’ll be even easier to think about when there’s less to lose than I’ve already lost (I’ve lost 50 – but still have over 70 to go…)

  23. kwithme says:

    One of the reasons I like the scale now is that I can see changes in a small amount of time.

    I am 5’5″ and my “goal” is 150. It is a BMI of 25. Though, I have discovered quite recently, that I would like to be able to wear cute clothes. I am only 16 lbs from my “goal” and I am still in a size 16 pants. I would love to be smaller.

    Lastly, I am considering this a lifestyle change, so if I go less, then great but I don’t want to be above 150.

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