Is Your Goal Weight Realistic?

If you’re like millions of other Americans, chances are, one of your New Year’s resolutions has to do with losing weight. Maybe last year you struggled to slim down for a special event; perhaps this year you’re committing to get back to your college best. Whatever your reasons, if you’re going to get serious about achieving your intention, the important first step is picking the right target.

Take a moment to think: Why that particular number? Are you picking it to improve your health? Or do you secretly believe when you reach that exact number you’ll find love, get promoted, or be happier? Have you been chasing it for years, and no matter how much you diet or exercise, you can’t reach it—or when you do, you can’t maintain it?

Like any SMART goals you set in life, your goal weight should be achievable and realistic. To help you figure that out, ask yourself these three key questions:

Question 1: What’s Your Weight History?

You may want to be size zero, but have you ever actually been a size zero? Hate to break it to you, but your dream weight might just not be right for you. Consider what your family members look like—are your genes programmed for a fit size 8? You don’t need to look like a cover model to be healthy, especially if it means surviving on air to get there. Think about the size that you were most comfortable at—one that didn’t require extreme dieting and misery to maintain.

The amount of time you’ve spent at a particular weight also makes a difference. If you’ve only gained a few pounds recently, they’ll drop off much more easily than if it’s taken years for the pounds to creep on. This doesn’t mean it’ll be impossible to lose them, just be prepared that it may take a bit more time. Acknowledge it and then commit to the challenge.

Question 2: How Much Are You Willing to Change Forever?

Yes, you can drop five pounds in five days by starving yourself, but you know those pounds will return. Are you really going to stick to that no-carb diet forever? Or completely forgo your favorite foods indefinitely? With small, less drastic changes, the weight may come off more slowly, but it’ll stay off. Be patient. Recognize that weight loss is a journey that takes time. Habits you’ve spent years creating may take years to change. Start slowly by choosing one at a time. You could cut back on your soda intake, switch your afternoon cookies for fruit, or simply cook more meals at home. Once you’ve mastered a new habit, pick another one, and slowly but surely, you’ll create a slimmer, healthier you who loves making healthy choices. And who will stick around for good, not just until the end of that 30-day diet

Question 3: What Does Science Say?

The body mass index (BMI) can be a useful tool to calculate your healthy weight range for your height. Ideally, your weight should fall between a BMI of 18.5 and 24.9. Try this quick calculation to get a sense for the guidelines.


Your lowest weight (pounds) =

18.5 x height (feet) x height (feet)


Your highest weight (pounds) =

24.9 x height (feet) x height (feet)


These healthy cut-offs give you a pretty big range of about 40 pounds (or 20 kilograms) that’s considered healthy for you. If the goal you’ve set for yourself falls below 18.5—it’s too low, and you need to ease up. If it’s above 24.9, but you have a lot to lose, that’s okay. Break your bigger goal down into smaller, achievable milestones, tackling one at a time. It makes it much less daunting. Initially, set your sights on losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, divided into even smaller weekly goals. (These small losses are easier to sustain and still come with big health benefits!) Once you celebrate your first success, reevaluate, reset, and keep getting closer to that healthier BMI range, if need be.

Remember, obesity is an excess of body fat, and since muscle weighs more than fat, taking your body fat percentage into account is important, too. 200 pounds of mostly muscle is much healthier than 200 pounds of mostly fat, even though they both equate to the same BMI.

There’s No Magic Number

What the scale says naturally fluctuates by a few pounds from day to day because of changes in your body’s water stores. (That’s why it’s so important to weigh in at the same time every day, preferably first thing in the morning.) Rather than picking one magic number, aim for a reasonable range of up to 5 pounds. Once you’ve slimmed down, use these numbers as a guide to maintaining with regular weight checks—and ultimately, try to avoid having to set a weight-loss resolution ever again!

You can set a weight goal in the Fitbit app and track your progress using the Aria scale. Plus, keep an eye out for Personal Goal Setting, a new app feature launching later this month, which can help you set smarter (and more achievable!) goals. 

110 Comments   Join the Conversation

110 CommentsLeave a comment

  • How to I set a goal date for weight loss, so that my Blaze sets the correct daily calorie goal? Some one said to adjust intensity like 3 pounds a week, but cannot find it.

    • Hey Mark,
      For metric, use this equation:

      Your lowest weight (kilograms) =

      18.5 x height (meters) x height (meters)

      Your highest weight (kilograms) =

      24.9 x height (meters) x height (meters)

    • If you click on the BMI link you can change it to metric. Just enter your height and weight and it figures it for you. 🙂

  • Thanks, this article has been extremely helpful in determine my weight. I had a bit of trouble understanding the equations at first, so maybe an example would help.

    I also have trouble working out my calorie intake. (Where do I start), so an article n that would be awesome.

    • Best way is to download a calorie tracker app, like MY Fitness Pal, where you can scan the bar codes on whatever you eat with you smart phone, it will link to your Fit bit App and give calories in vs calories out, you can also log favourite recipes, standard meals etc

    • I really loved this article! The equations made me realize that I’m on the limit of my highest weight :S I’ll better start workout.

      @Beedub the equations are like this:

      -To calculate the lowest weight you can have to be healthy use this

      lowest BMI (18.5) * (your height) * (your height again)

      for example mine is:

      18.5 * 5.6 * 5.6
      ——————– = 118.89 pounds

      I hope this helps! 😀

  • Is your goal weight realistic, I would we know how we look at our best, photos are a great record for this. Also our loved one’s if they are being honest and sincere. As a male of my height I could be 25kg lighter than my current weight and still be in the lower scale. This would be a disaster as the scale does not allow for different body types, muscle is very dense. If you must use a scale this would be better:
    but better use my suggestion and embrace your healthy body without becoming obsessed with food. Find out what food works best for you and your lifestyle

  • I have been on work cover for 10months and have gained 17 kg. I really need to loose this extra weight any ideas would be great

  • If I was at 123lbs, which is the lowest weight I should be, I doubt I would have the energy to stand…..where do these figures come from…surely men are different to women and surely frame size is important too?

  • This was very helpful. My weight range was good, and the final goal I chose is attainable. I’m doing weight watchers, and it’s coming off at a healthy, sustainable rate.

  • My kids got me the Fitbit for Christmas in 2015.
    I have lost 20lb since then:) But I plateaued now 🙁 and really need a good nutrition plan. Please help. Thank you!

  • What about a 70 year old (there’s a lot of us seniors out there) somewhat active and needs to loose 20-30 lbs. Floor excercises are rough with hip and knee problems.

  • I can’t understand the formula. What does the 4.88 go with? Am I multiplying my height by 18.5 and 4.88 and then somehow putting them together? Help!!

  • I really loved this article! The equations made me realize that I’m on the limit of my highest weight :S I’ll better start workout.

    @Beedub the equations are like this:

    -To calculate the lowest weight you can have to be healthy use this

    lowest BMI (18.5) * (your height) * (your height again)

    for example mine is:

    18.5 * 5.6 * 5.6
    ——————– = 118.89 pounds

    I hope this helps! 😀

  • I got my fitbit thru my healthcare provider – who also had a coach (Megan) get with me for support. What Megan told me was surely correct: less caloric intake, correct foods and plenty of water and more physical activity seemed to be the way as this info is consistent throughout the weight loss industry. So more water ( i don’t like water but at least a gallon a day), balanced smaller diet (lots of variety but I am always unsatisfied and hungry shortly after), and start walking – alot. Results – no change. I have no idea what to do. I have been doing this for a year. 367# at start, 368# now. Any ideas? I am open to anything. Please be blunt. I do not eats sweets (no candy, cake, etc.)

  • I have recently lost 45 lbs. & while my BMI is almost where it should be (25.6) my body fat percentage is still 40% which I’ve been told is still too high. I am a 63 year old female. Any suggestions?

  • I am a 65-yr-old female, and due to some health issues, I have not been able to exercise at all for about a year (my Fitbit is pretty lonely). I hope that changes, but until then, I am under a doctor’s supervision while I attempt to lose some weight and get my cholesterol and triglycerides down. For now, I am happy as long as my weekly weigh-in is down from the week before – even if it’s measured in ounces rather than pounds. For me, slow and steady wins the race.

  • I’m surprised that you are still relying on BMI. It’s a lousy indicator of fitness and over-emphazising the number on the scale. There are so many more numbers that can indicate health and fitness better such as blood pressure, resting heart rate, glucose levels, cholesterol levels, etc. Let’s move away from an antiquated format to measure fitness.

  • I have been tracking my weight since June…increased activity with my FitBit and a walking routine; reducing (not eliminating) carbs and increasing water, fruits and vegetable consumption. My weight loss goals are set in increments – I met my first one of 15 lbs on 31 December and set another one for 10 lbs on January 1…they come off slowly but they come off…

  • I like keeping the # of steps perday, because I’m in another study with Women’s Health iniative, on long life events, which started out as a study out as hormone study for women in 1995. It’s called “Whish”, keep moving.
    Ruth Jones, age 89. play golf, ride a 3 wheel bicycle 3 to 4 times a week.

  • Muscle does not weigh more than fat
    15 lbs of muscle and 15 lbs of fat are the same weight
    4 lbs of muscle and 4 lbs of fat are the same weight

    • I think when people say muscle weights more than fat they mean muscle is more dense than fat so you need a smaller volume of muscle to get the same mass of fat.( 1 pound of feathers also weights the same as 1 pound of lead you just need a lot more feathers to achieve 1 pound than you need lead)

  • I do not understand the formula of weight. The calculation shows the lowest weight of a 10 feet height should be 379 pounds.

    Your lowest weight (pounds) = (18.5 x height (feet) x height (feet))/4.88
    = (18.5x10x10)/4.88 = 379 pounds

    Please clarify.

  • Instead of trying to compute it yourselves, just use the BMI link provided.

    BUT I personally don’t like using BMI. I’m 5′ 9″ and if I weighed 169 pounds so my BMI is 24.8 (in the NORMAL range) I look sickly. I look healthy at 200 pounds but that BMI is 29.5 and considered overweight. Using a height/weight/age calculator it says I should be between 141-145 pounds… for healthy BMIs I should be between 125.3 lbs – 169.3 lbs.

    I’m sorry, but the whole BMI and weight calculations IMHO are a bunch of bull.

  • Didn’t really understand how to do the calculations…the numbers didn’t seem correct. Please give example.

  • Is this calculation correct? x height x height? I’m almost 5’10” and this would indicate my maximum weight would be about 128 pounds. I’m confused.

  • You said BMI is based on weight and height. The % of fat is the important number. Can you recommend ways to determine the fat%?

  • My Fitbit was a Christmas present & I love it. My granddaughter & I are friends on Fitbit & challenge each other with our steps. Today, even though I have more than 15,000 steps my number never went up on the ‘Friends’ part. They did go up on the main part. Hers went up. Why?

  • Historically the BMI does not make allowance for those of us who are into strength training, i.e., weight lifters. Actual body fat measurements are best.

  • Thanks for the formula. I am a 175 lb, 75 y/o male who eats healthy, works out 4x/wk, group tai chi 2x/wk, bp of 72 over 110, parents who were 2-300 lbs into their late 90’s.
    The formula says I should run between 114 and 154 lbs.
    I’ll get right on it!

  • The BMI figures used in this analysis may seem familiar and of common reference; however, they do not conform to the actual graphs and curves published by the NIH for healthy BMI’s. The placement of the maximum healthy BMI at 24.9 was a reduction made from 26.9 some 20 or so years ago, induced mainly by the insurance industry, despite clear statistics to the contrary. The medical community offered virtually no input into the matter. According to NIH statistics and published J curve graphs (3 over the past 15 years), the healthiest BMI’s for men and woman range from the low 25’s to the low/mid 26’s, depending on age and sex – those are the healthiest BMI’s – not just acceptable ones. In other words, people with BMI’s from 25 – 26.4 live longer and suffer from less disease than people with all other BMI’s. On average, BMI’s 21 and below are generally unhealthy for people middle age and older. For example, to obtain a BMI of 19, a 5′ 8″ man would have to weigh in at 125 lbs.. You’d be talking Don Knots territory for most men. So for those millions of you with BMI’s of 25 or 26, don’t despair; instead, research the NIH morbidity and mortality statistics and graphs. And remember, the medical community’s use of 25 is not based on science or statistics, it is based on a financial windfall hoped for and achieved some 20 years ago by the insurance industry. Of course, individuals vary, and statistics are always generalizations; however, you might as well deal with real ones rather than those advanced by fiat.

  • I have updated my Fitbit to a Fitbit charge 2 , I am having trouble loading the new Fitbit into my existing account. I have gone into set-up a device and clicked on set up charge 2 but just keeps trying to load. I have blue tooth turned on. Can anyone help me , give me some advice

  • Hmm. I think I followed the formula correctly:

    (18.5 X 6.167 X 6.167) / 4.88 = 144 lbs

    (24.9 X 6.167 X 6.167) / 4.88 = 194 lbs

    144 lbs seems WAY too low for a 6′ 2″ man, even unhealthy. 192 lbs is about the upper end of what I’ve seen listed for my height. I’m not sure I trust that formula.

  • The BMI calculations say a person who is 6ft 1in. tall should weigh between 138 and 189… sorry but that’s simply ridiculous. I’m a 6’1″ man and graduated from college in 1987 at about 190lbs – I was in decent shape and according to this – I was overweight… really? That’s just ridiculous.

  • I’m not understanding the equation. Height in feet…not everyone is a solid foot in height. Where do the inches come into play?

  • ….”and since muscle weighs more than fat”…NO NO NO!! I cringe everytime I read or hear this. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh ONE POUND each, just like pound of feathers and a pound of apples weigh the same thing. Muscle is more dense and takes up less space by volume but muscle does not weigh more than fat.

  • Hi Ellie, do you do any weight training? 3 years ago I joined a gym that measured my body fat at 42%. That pretty much woke me up, and I started doing weights and swimming. I got remeasured last summer at 37%. I dropped 9 lbs of fat and gained 1 lb of muscle. BMI is only one measurement. You are smart considering the bigger picture.

  • I forgot to mention, I’m 52 years old. A couple of decades sitting at a desk made me pretty flabby. The good news is you can build them back up. It takes time though.

  • “Remember, obesity is an excess of body fat, and since muscle weighs more than fat, taking your body fat percentage into account is important, too.”

    Although the first and last parts of this sentence are correct, the middle portion does need to be restated. One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the exact same pound. The difference is in the appearance. Muscle is much leaner and denser than fat, but it does NOT weigh more.

  • “muscle weighs more than fat”

    Muscle, largely protein, does not weigh more than fat, it is denser than fat. So, it would be accurate to say that muscle weighs more than an equal volume of fat.

    A nutritionist should know this important distinction between biochemical components.

  • What I am not understanding is I am 6’1″ @ 195lbs. 22.4 % body fat. The formula states I should be between 143 and 189. This mean, drop more body fat and not do any weight training to be in the correct range or mass cardio. Muscle weight is more thenfat. Right? So, either way. Being in shape, would be bad? Only way to fall into anything near these numbers for me would either force my body to start eating away my muscle and fat or have no energy due to lack of the right calories? Please explain if my thought process is correct or wrong.

  • Ok so this talk of losing wait is all good but what do you do when the problem is gaining weight I had a loss of 20 lbs about 3 years ago and no matter what I do or eat I can’t put it back on I have managed to gain 4 lbs back just so you know my whole life I held at about 100 lbs am now about 84 I am 58 years old 59 next month have been to the doctors they find nothing wrong with me I felt good at my 100 lbs now I am tired all the time and I don’t know what else to try I have been drinking milk shakes I make at home every night with protein powder in them I work at McDonald’s and eat breakfast and lunch there 5 days a week I eat a dinner every night as well as snacks a couple times a day any ideas

  • Wouldn’t it be easier to just put height, weight & age? When I was younger we always went by that. I was rather thin as a 20 year old woman. After raising my children and now being close to 80, I am naturally heavier in my midsection & butt. I can’t do all the weight lifting, tennis, skiing, etc. that I did in my younger years.

  • I’m 81 yrs old and have been 102 its in high school and then highest at pregnancy 125lbs. returning to 115 after babies then remaining around that until retiring at 62yrs old then gained 10 lbs. After cancer & two strokes. I counted all sodiums and sugars I ate returning to102 its, everyone said I looked too thin, then ate all the desserts I wanted and returned to112, which wasn’t a healthy way to gain weight& I haven’t had energy to walk a long way for some months. Weight isn’t my problem but stamina and muscle building is. I know of my heart rate issue with irregular rthymn as my normal rate.So I take it easy.But I’m glad to see some of the floor exercises,like my Yoga was doing.

  • Since when does muscle weigh more than fat? A pound is a pound. A pound of sugar and a pound of feathers each weigh a pound but they take up space differently.

  • Not sure weighing yourself everyday is a healthy habit to get into! I noticed I was becoming obsessed with numbers on a scale so i moved the scales elsewhere and now only weigh myself once a month and track my body fat percentage rather than worrying about numbers jumping up and down each day! Its made me a lot happier and a lot less stressy about the little things! Dont torment yourself unnecessarily!

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