A Delicious Way to Diet

By Nicci Micco, January/February 2009

Learn how nine readers lost weight on the EatingWell Diet and how you can too.

"Sounds good hope it works for diabetics "

Step #2: Set Goals

Ramona Chavez, 29, has struggled with her weight and body image her whole life. Over the years, she has tried all sorts of strategies—from low-carb “fad” diets to strict vegan regimes. Some helped her to lose weight—but eventually the pounds crept back. In the months just before the EatingWell Diet, nothing seemed to be working. “I had become so frustrated. I wasn’t losing weight. I was actually gaining,” she says. Before starting the diet, Ramona’s weight was an all-time high of 165 pounds—a weight that, for her height (5'2"), corresponded with a BMI in the “obese” range.

To bring her weight into the healthy BMI range, she needed to lose 30 pounds.

In the past, Ramona would have set her sights on this number and simply started completely cutting out certain foods, such as meat, fried foods and dairy—a tactic that she says, “just made me want to eat them more.” Eventually she’d become frustrated and give up altogether. It’s a common weight-loss mistake: setting your goals—and expectations—too high. Then, when you eat an “off-limits” food, you feel like you’ve failed and give up completely.

No one can eat perfectly all the time: we wanted to help Ramona lose her “all-or-nothing” eating mindset and, instead, focus on setting realistic short-term goals, each of which would bring her one step closer to achieving her long-term goal of losing 30 pounds. We helped by giving her a simple formula:

Calculate Your Calorie Goal

Your current weight x 12 = calories needed to maintain your current weight
To lose 1 pound/week: Cut 500 calories/day
To lose 2 pounds/week: Cut 1,000 calories/day

Using our formula, Ramona calculated that, to maintain her current weight of 165 pounds, she was consuming 1,980 calories per day. By subtracting 500 calories from this number, she arrived at a daily calorie goal of 1,480 calories. Achieving this calorie target each day would enable her to lose one pound per week. (If your goal is to lose two pounds per week, you would subtract 1,000 from your “maintenance” calorie level. Note: For healthy weight loss, we don’t advise losing more than two pounds per week. Also, if you calculate a daily calorie goal that’s less than 1,200, set your calorie goal at 1,200 calories. Below that, it’s hard to meet your nutrient needs—or feel satisfied enough to stick with a plan.)

Finally, Ramona set “sub-goals” to help her meet her calorie goal, such as limiting snack foods at night—and buying single-serving snack foods.

“Breaking up the goals was a nice way to remind myself of the little habits I need to practice every day to reach my overall goal of losing 30 pounds,” says Ramona, who got down to 156 pounds by the end of the Challenge. “It also makes even small achievements feel like victories.” Her next milestone is to hit 148 pounds, which is 10 percent less than her starting weight. (Research shows that, if you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol and provide better blood-sugar control.)

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