Set a goal. It doesn’t have to be a goal weight, but that is most common. Your goal may be fitting into an old pair of jeans, having a certain fat bulge gone, or something similar. Your goal should reflect a lean body status, not a weight lighter than you are now, but still with excess fat. It is very important that you be truthful with yourself or you will never be satisfied with your result. You will think the diet has failed you and you’ll go back to your old eating pattern and keep gaining weight. Even if you think it will take years to reach your goal, set it where it should be. Write down your goal and post it somewhere you’ll see it every day. If you want a “before” picture to compare to an “after” picture later, now is the time to have it taken. Most people have a good idea of what they’d like to weigh. If you’re not sure what a lean weight is for you, look for your height in the graph on page 53 and determine a weight in the “healthy weight” range to set as your goal. Here’s another way to find your goal weight. For women, start at 100 pounds for five feet, then add five pounds for every inch over five feet. For men, start at 106 pounds for five feet and add six pounds for every inch over five feet. Add 10 percent for a large frame, or deduct 10 percent for a small frame. Measure around your wrist with a cloth tape measure. If you don’t have a cloth tape measure, cut a strip of paper at least eight inches long. Wrap the paper around your wrist, mark the circumference, then measure from the end to the mark with a ruler or metal measuring tape. Find your wrist measurement in the row containing your gender and height in the table, then look at the top of the column to find your frame size.
You may want to write your goal weight on a calendar, in your personal journal, or in a progress blog. Now that you have your goal weight in mind, it may be refreshing to imagine life without carrying the extra weight around. To calculate your percentage of excess weight, subtract your ideal weight from your current weight, multiply the result by 100, then divide by your ideal weight. To better appreciate the burden you’re putting on your body by carrying your extra weight, the next time you’re in a sporting goods store or a gym, stack up your excess weight in barbell weights. Even for someone mildly overweight, the excess amount can be a formidable load to be carrying all the time. How much extra are you carrying? Here’s a cumulative list of what you have to gain from losing, based on a person whose lean weight is 140 pounds. 20 percent overweight (28 extra pounds, weight 168) At this point, there’s a mild increase in the load on your ankles and knees. The burden is comparable to carrying a backpack with four textbooks in it at all times. 40 percent overweight (56 extra pounds, weight 196) There’s a substantial increase in the load on your ankles and knees, comparable to carrying a fully-loaded military backpack at all times. Cumulative load: backpack with four textbooks plus 3½ gallons of milk. 60 percent overweight (84 extra pounds, weight 224) This is equivalent to carrying an 11-year-old child or a fully-grown Labrador retriever around at all times. Hips, knees, ankles, and feet may have accelerated arthritis due to overloading. Cumulative load: backpack with textbooks, 3½ gallons of milk, and a 20-inch chain saw. 80 percent overweight (112 extra pounds, weight 252) This burden is like carrying a smaller adult or a full-size recliner around at all times. If your feet, knees, and back hurt, it’s no wonder. Cumulative load: backpack with textbooks, 3½ gallons of milk, a 20-inch chain saw, and a folding wheelchair. 100 percent overweight (140 extra pounds, weight 280) At this weight, you are carrying your lean self, a washing machine, or a 15-cubic foot chest freezer around at all times. Cumulative load: backpack with textbooks, 3½ gallons of milk, a 20-inch chain saw, a folding wheelchair, and a bushel of okra.