Is Setting a Goal Weight Necessary?

Do you set a goal weight when you set off on a weight loss journey?

I’ll share with you how I decided what weight I’d like to be, and I’d be really interested in hearing what your thoughts or ideas are on the subject. When I started on my 512th attempt to lose weight I didn’t really know where I would end up. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure I’d stick with my plan.

So in the beginning, my initial goal was to: LOSE WEIGHT.

That’s right, I had no real end point because I couldn’t let myself believe that I might actually have some success. So after several weeks of steady weight loss, I began setting some small weight goals. “I’ll be so happy when I’m under 270.” Then, “What will it feel like to be 249?” And so on.

Little by little the weight came off, and even after I had lost the first 100 pounds, I still didn’t have a firm goal weight in mind. The more I lost, the more people asked me. “When are you going to stop losing weight?” Or, “Are you done yet?” I always answered them in the same way, “When I get there, I’ll know.”

Once I got under 200 pounds, there was no stopping me. I knew I was doing it, and everyone could finally tell. But when should I stop? Quite frankly, I could have stopped there. At that point I was wearing a size 16 (I’m tall) and looked about 1000% better than I had before. I think that’s why so many people kept asking me if I was done.

I began really thinking about what I wanted to accomplish with my weight loss. Should I just be satisfied with looking so much better, or should I keep going until I felt much better. I was feeling better at 199 than I had at 270, but did I feel good enough? I decided I didn’t, and still didn’t set a number goal. Over the next several months, as the weight continued to come off, I constantly reassessed how I was feeling about myself, how I felt about my appearance, and rather or not I felt done.

One day, it came. It wasn’t a certain weight on the scale, but rather a satisfaction within myself that I was happy with where I was. I was satisfied. I was done. And I stopped trying to lose more weight, and instead started learning how to maintain the loss.

If you set a goal weight, how did you decide what it should be? Or if you have chosen not to set a goal weight, why not? As always, I love to hear your thoughts and comments. Diane


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  1. for me it was about how I felt.
    I longed for energy.
    I wanted no more back pain :-)
    I knew Id just know and I did.
    I was never a weigher.
    Miz recently posted…Gratitude boards & six year olds.*My Profile

  2. For me, my goal weight is the weight I was for a year (well, technically I was 67kg for 6 months, then I dropped a kilogram) at the age of 34, until I broke my arm. 66kg, a nice round number. That was 14 years ago.

    I think it is much harder for those who have never been thin. I had that luxury, some people don’t. I knew what life was like being thin. I knew what life was like not knowing my weight (because I never had weight issues). I have immense admiration for those who enter a degree of thinness that they’ve never been at before.
    John recently posted…Commitment week 4My Profile

  3. I started having issues with blood pressure, knee pain etc is why I decided to drop weight again to see if it would help. At the beginning of this year I decided to see if I could lower my maintence weight by 10% which would put my weight in the 23-24 bmi range that is how I decided what I wanted to weigh now I am at 152 with maybe 6 pounds left to remove before I do maintence again for good this time.

  4. Good question. Since I’m doing Weight Watchers, they set a target goal range based on your height. For my height, the range is 128 to 160.I started at 195 and I initially set my personal goal at 155 since I have broad shoulders and a larger frame. As I got close to 155, I decided to move it down to 150, much to the dismay of my husband who said (leave the goal so we can stop paying!!). Anyway, I’m not at 152 and very close to “goal”. Part of WW is learning maintenance. Once at goal, I will need to maintain my weight plus or minus 2 lbs for 6 weeks to achieve “lifetime” status (no paying!). After that period, I may reassess, but I’m feeling pretty good about the decision. To be honest, I’m a lot older than I was when I was young and spry and 130 lbs. I want a have a goal weight I can maintain for the rest of my life. I don’t want to constantly struggle. I feel like 150 may be that weight. It’s a healthy BMI and I feel good.

  5. I used several methods of “scientific” calculation, such as BMI, to determine what would be a helathy weight range for me. I am at the upper end of this range by now and would like to drop a little bit more, so I can start learning how to maintain without obsessing over whether I gained a few pounds and am once again classified as overweight or not. My “health weight span” is 58-71kg (=BMI 20-25), last time I weighed in (at the beginning of the month) I was at 69kg, and my “goal weight span” is 60-65kg. That should give me plenty of wiggling room. Of course I can still change my mind at any time. ^^
    Diandra recently posted…Weekly check-in – and some food for thoughtMy Profile

  6. This post was very helpful to me. I need to lose 60 lbs. and that number scares me to death because I don’t think I can do it. Now re-reading this I see a couple of things about myself: 1) fear 2) lack of confidence. I’m sure there’s more than just two. I’ve done WW and lost 25 lbs. but then stopped. I was just tired of always having to tweek recipes, keep up with points, go to meetings, etc. I was tired of fighting the weight loss battle. Of course, I gained back the 25 lbs. I have some knee issues that make walking painful, but your blog is slowing giving me the courage to start over.

  7. This post is right up my alley. I started at 352lbs, I’m now at 199lbs and I find myself teetering between being satisfied with where I’m at or to keep pushing for what is possible- my best. I also have no clue what weight I’ll be when I decide I’m done; however, setting weight loss goals is still important for me so my next goal is 180lbs- I know that for my health I need to at least get to that point. I definitely appreciated this post!

  8. I also chose a weight from the range that Weight Watchers gave me. For my height, it was 113 to 141. It took me nine months and switching to a morning meeting for weigh ins to get to 140 but I finally got there and went through the six weeks of maintenance. I’ll forever be grateful to them for teaching me that maintenance meant continuing what I was already doing. Over and over I lost weight, went back to my old way of eating and regained. Ten years later, I’m staying around 136 and that is a good weight for me at 64.
    Caron recently posted…Zucchini Pepperoni PizzaMy Profile

  9. So wise, Diane, thank you.

  10. You know this is exactly how I got through college in my 40s. I had started and stopped twice before that with many years in between each false start. The third time, I just put one foot in front of the other and was about an upper sophmore before I realized I was conquering that particular dragon and started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Now with my weight, I also have a hard time settling on a number because I don’t know what weight will suit me at this age, so I find that again, I’m just putting one foot in front of the other. I haven’t yet made any significant loss like 50 lbs yet, so it is day by day. Some good, some not so good, but I’m still in the running.

  11. I am not strict with myself on goals because usually if I want something I make it happen and it is easy for me to be motivated to do it. I would say my biggest motivation are my kids. Reading scriptures is not something that comes easy for me but I know if I want to strengthen our testimonies we need to do it as a family consistently.
    Marie@feedingfive recently posted…Gracias, Mahalo, MerciMy Profile

  12. Yes, every time I have set a goal weight. Usually it is a weight from my past where I felt good in my skin. The number has changed over the years, getting higher as I become older and more pragmatic and realistic. My “real” goal now though is not a number but to have a different relationship with food. BUT, I do still have a number in the back of my head as a guideline for how strict I need to be at any given point with my eating. Right now, thanks to my holiday eating and lack of cardio since early December, I am a bit above my goal. At that weight I know I fit better in my clothes:)
    Karen@WaistingTime recently posted…Liar, Liar, Elastic-Waist Pants on FireMy Profile

  13. I struggle with the goal weight thing. I never hit the goal that I set for myself, but have maintained a significant loss. Having actually thought about a specific goal, but not quite reaching it has always been a bit of a sore spot for me. That’s why I switched to a scale with no numbers on it.
    Lori recently posted…Female Body Breakthrough B and books!My Profile

  14. Anyone who knows me well knows that the word “goal” sets my teeth on edge. But for a while, I did have a goal weight and it was based on the BMI scale…I chose the high end of the range as my goal weight. I never got there…got disgusted, gave up, regained weight. Then one day I decided to stop weighing and stop focusing on “losing weight” and started focusing on health and how I felt…it made all the difference in the world :-)
    KCLAnderson (Karen) recently posted…Holding Up The Mirror: Thoughts On RelevanceMy Profile

  15. When I started, my first trainer and I set the goal weight at 130 (I was 220). I kept that number in mind for a long time but current trainer and I both agree that we just want to see where I get that feeling of, “This is it.” Neither one of us has any idea what that will be just yet. I’m currently hovering around 150 and feeling great, but I know I can feel even better and continue to get even stronger. But the weight has become less of a worry, and the overall fitness is what we’re concerned with now.
    Meg (@LadyMegSoprano) recently posted…Fitspiration FridayMy Profile

  16. I’m 60 and I told my kids to stop me when I started looking too old. ;) Hopefully that won’t happen until I’m around 160-170. I’m hoping to lose around 3 pounds a month for the next year, which should get me fairly close to that goal. (I’ve lost 70 pounds so far and feel so much better.)

  17. Blessedmama says:

    Yes, I set weight loss goals, but those have fluctuated depending on if I think I’m going to be successful, or not. Sometimes I just strive to be “healthy,” whereas other times, I have a specific number range to try and attain.

  18. I’ve consciously decided not to set a goal weight. I have an approximate, but as I am trying to build muscle.. it’s nearly impossible to tell what the scale will wind up at. I’m more interested in clothes sizes, and I have a set number in mind. It’s probably too high for most, but that’s okay. :)
    Maren recently posted…Meet my friend, the Norwegian Fjord Trout!My Profile

  19. My goal was the top of the healthy weight range for my height. I lost 17 pounds more than that, but have maintained at ten pounds below my original goal. I set a goal that I thought was possible so I wouldn’t have to deal with that little voice in my head telling me I would never get there.

  20. Diane – great discussion!!!! Way back in the dark ages when I lost my initial weight, I thought I wanted to be 100 or 105 pounds. I knew nothing then. With age & learning & especially since weight lifting, I understand that I can be heavier than my MIND wants to be but still wear a size 4. For me, it is all about how I feel & fit into my clothes these days & since I learned that stuff! :-)
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Mirror Mirror on the Wall…My Profile

  21. On my journey to lose more than 200 pounds I found setting goals for myself to be very important. Although in the beginning of my weight loss journey I was overwhelmed at the prospect of having to lose 212 pounds, I found setting small 10% goals helped keep me focused! I was so thrilled and excited everytime I reached one of my mini-goals! I know a number should not be the most important part of this journey, but I think having an idea of where I want to go has helped me on path. I am now less than 10 pounds away from my original goal; although I’m probably going to lose an additional 10 pounds. Also, I love your remarks about how you would know you reached your goal when you got to where you wanted to be!
    Debbie Pinchback recently posted…Weigh-Ins – Encouragement and SupportMy Profile

  22. I never really set a weight goal when I initially lost weight. Mostly I would try to get back to where I “was.” Eventually, with being a consistent exerciser and health oriented eater, my weight, as I believe everyone’s would, settled at a point that felt right.

  23. I have an upper goal weight in mind and I’ll see when I get there if I want to stay there. Right now it gives me something to work toward. Being healthy is too vague for me and clothing sizes vary depending on the brand so that’s too vague for me too.
    Siobhan recently posted…I should be in Walt Disney WorldMy Profile

  24. When I first started losing weight I weighed 200 pounds. I didn’t set a goal weight immediately, but once I started seeing success I figured I’d set 135 as my goal. Then as I looked into it more, I thought 130 should be my goal.

    That said, I’ve now opted out of deliberately working to lose more weight. I weigh 139 (after a low of 133.5 and a couple months at 135), and at this time, that’s going to work. I’m happy with what I can eat at this weight — in fact, I’m playing with that some, trying to see where my balance point is — and I can maintain a 40-minutes-per-day exercise habit. I just don’t have the time (or physical ability) to brutalize my body for either 4 or 9 measly pounds, because brutalizing myself is what it would take at this point. No thanks. I push my limits, but I’ve had enough exercise-related injuries in the past few years (thanks for the genetics, Mom and Dad! LOL) and I simply can’t risk becoming sedentary again. I look good, I’m happy, and unless I decide otherwise, here I stay.
    Amanda recently posted…Momentum Rocks!My Profile

  25. As I face the year of 2012, weight goal is one on the list in my resolution… I decided to emrolled in a fitness activity and for just 3 months, I saw a lot of changes…
    Dianna recently posted…What Is Tinnitus A Symptom OfMy Profile

  26. Yes, I sat a goal, but when I got there, I kept losing effortlessly and ended up losing seven more pounds. That was six years ago. I regained some of the weight, but am in the process of losing it again and this time with “changes” behind me (if you get my drift!!), I feel pretty confident I will be content with the original goal. And yes, I’ve always set a goal – I just work more efficiently that way.
    Sharon recently posted…The Proof Is In The JeansMy Profile

  27. So wise Diane. I have a “goal range” in mind, but find if I get too caught up in numbers, I get thrown off. Have a fantastic weekend.
    Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted…600 = DCMy Profile

  28. You know, I have this ideal weight in my head (150) because of how great I looked at that weight in the (far distant!) past. So in my head that is always my goal weight. Then I have moment where I feel like I’d be happy at 205 even, just because it’s not where I am now! LOL! So when it comes to goal weight I’m not sure I know what I’m doing. I would currently like to start with losing thirty or forty pounds from my starting point before my Mom comes to visit in August or September.
    me recently posted…So WHY am I so secretive?!!!!My Profile

  29. BTW~have you written or shared at all about loose skin?
    me recently posted…So WHY am I so secretive?!!!!My Profile

  30. I’m still not sure about a goal weight….I’ve lost 70 and want to lose 100…but that is at the top of my “healthy weight range” so not sure where I’m going to end up. I can’t imagine what I’m going to look/feel like after losing 30 more pounds so I don’t really have a goal weight in mind. I think (hope!) I’ll know it when I get there!
    Jodi @ Jodi, Fat or Not recently posted…Quick Coconut Shrimp CurryMy Profile

  31. I’ve always had 180 as a goal weight in my mind, but I’ve also said, “If I get to 180 and I need to lose more, awesome.” Or conversely, if I get to 210 and I like where I’m at, that’s great, too.
    Jeremy Logsdon recently posted…The Giving Back Corporation and the LA MarathonMy Profile

  32. I originally didn’t set a goal either. You know this was my 512th time as well :) Right, why set yourself up for another failure by setting a weight goal? I did put a ticker on my blog for a certain amount of weight I would know like to loose, but I don’t really see it as definitive of my goal. I agree it must be based on how you feel. Like some of your other readers, I suffered from back pain due to a herniated disk. Now that I have lost weight my pain has subsided substantially. Keep going until it feels right!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Loving the weather and extra daylightMy Profile

  33. I did not start with a specific number in mind either. and my weight came off in two phases. I lost the first 60lbs over 2 years, then maintained for 2 years, then lost the last 20lbs over 6 mos, and that is where I have been maintaining for the last 2 1/2 years (it is amazing how quickly the time goes). Speaking for myself only – what ended up determining the total pounds was what it took to get rid of my belly. And for me, that took 80lbs. But I was careful to put in the time frame to show that 80lb was a slow process.

  34. I don’t have a “goal weight,” but I do have the opposite — sort of a “goal weight” in the opposite direction, a weight above which I think, “Okay, cut back for a few days.” I hit that weight or go above it by a scintilla, and I go easy for the week. Period, no options. I’ve never worried about my weight, but everyone always says that as one hits middle age, the spread starts. I’ve decided not to spread. I like fitting into the clothing I have, and wearing the kinds of clothing I’ve gotten used to wearing, walking with the relative ease with which I walk now, etc. I carry a 20# box of cat litter home from the supermarket, and I’m dying by the time I get back. No WAY am I carting that around 24/7.

  35. My goals have always been somewhat nebulous but I do set them – I have a lot of progress goals, but not a firm endpoint. The reason being that progress goals motivate me, but a firm endpoint wouldn’t do anything but make me feel like I just couldn’t reach it! I’m going by how I feel when I get there, how I look, etc etc. There is just no way to attach a weight to it from this point, but I’ll know when I get there. I have a feeling it may be lower than I can imagine myself going right now!
    Taryl recently posted…R2P2VLCD3My Profile

  36. I have set goal weights in the past and it always discourages me when I don’t make it. I think I am probably setting some unrealistic goals. I finally decided I just wanted to feel healthy. Now I have an idea of where I want to be weight-wise and if I get too far off I look at what I have been doing; eating, exercising, etc. and try to get back in line. As long as I feel energetic and healthy and can fit in my clothing comfortably I am happy.
    Shelly recently posted…Garlic Lime Chicken FajitasMy Profile

  37. I think setting a goal with an arbitrary number is harmful. A dr told me I should be 125 pounds for my ideal weight. I went to a Physiology department of a local university and did underwater weighing (hydrostatic weighing) and was given my actual lean body mass to use as a guide. The Phd there went through what an ideal maintenance goal for my body was for my age. I had an extra 15 pounds of lean body mass than the average woman my age. My lean body mass was 132. I could not be 125 unless I was willing to lose muscle. I will be doing these tests again in May but this time I will be going to a different university as they have the Bod Pod testing and it is not underwater. Such a good investment $40 to know my true numbers instead of some guesstimating.
    Wishfulshrinking recently posted…day 266My Profile

  38. I remember what I felt like at my goal weight before children. I want to feel better so THAT is where I want to be again. I think I NEED a goal. It’s “fun” to watch myself get closer.
    La. recently posted…Colorado – Oklahoma – TexasMy Profile