Realistic vs. Unrealistic Expectations

Today’s post is another excerpt from “Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Weight Management“, recently published by the Canadian Obesity Network.

This guide is meant for health professionals dealing with obese clients and is NOT a self-management tool or weight-loss program. However, I assume that even general readers may find some of this material of interest.


Realistic vs. Unrealistic Expectations

Take a minute to conduct a reality check before your patient leaves the office. A realistic goal might be to achieve a 5%–10% weight loss at the rate of 0.5–1 kg (1–2 lbs) per week. It is important to emphasize the significant health benefits that can result from a 5%–10% weight loss. Unrealistic goals (e.g., 18 kg or 40 lbs in four weeks) reflect a lack of understanding of the basic principles of energy balance. As the patient’s body becomes smaller, it also burns fewer calories. The initially large caloric deficit produces gradual weight loss but finally reaches a floor, whereupon the body settles into a new caloric equilibrium. Once patients reach this floor, they will need to find new ways to establish a caloric deficit if they want to lose more weight. A simple tool that plots the anticipated rate of weight loss and illustrates when they are likely to reach the floor is an effective management tool.

© Copyright 2010 by Dr. Arya M. Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. All rights reserved.
The opinions in this book are those of the authors and do not represent those of the Canadian Obesity Network.

Members of the Canadian Obesity Network can download Best Weight for free.

Best Weight is also available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles (part of the proceeds from all sales go to support the Canadian Obesity Network)

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