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Set realistic goals when starting new year diet plan

Starting off the new year with a renewed commitment to losing weight? It's important to have realistic expectations. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for failure, said a Baylor College of Medicine expert.

Manage expectations

"You didn't gain the weight overnight, and you shouldn't expect it to come off right away either," said Molly Gee, a registered dietitian at BCM.

People with a minimal amount of weight to lose should expect to drop about a half-pound to one pound per week. Those with more weight to lose can expect two pounds or a little more a week.

But no matter how much weight you shed at first, don't expect to see the same weight loss week after week, Gee emphasized. And don't rely on the scale as the only measure of progress.

Ways to measure

"Use a tape measure to measure those problem areas at the beginning of your weight-loss program, and then repeat that check no more than once a week. Remember not to expect a lot of change right away," she said.

Another measure of progress – and one that can make you feel good – is how your clothes fit. "Try those favorite jeans on every so often to see how they feel and fit."

If you hit a plateau and just aren't seeing results, Gee said it's time to evaluate if you have slacked off or there's something you can tweak.

Helpful tips

Other tips to keep in mind include:

  • Be sure to drink plenty of water. During the winter, it's easy to get dehydrated because you do not get hot and sweaty, and you can forget to drink water.
  • To look better and feel better, do yourself a favor and get plenty of rest, Gee recommends. Adults shortchange themselves by getting less than seven or eight hours of sleep a night. A good night's sleep will enhance weight loss and make you feel good.
  • It's always a good idea to have a cheering section. Have a buddy who can keep you motivated.
  • Don't underestimate the impact that losing just 5 to 10 percent of your total weight has on overall health, including heart health, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.