Setting expectations around weight loss

Black woman standing in front of a mirror taking her waist measurement

Picture this: you’ve started a new weight loss journey and you’ve prepared all your healthy meals and gone for a few walks. It’s the end of the week and you’re excited to see the number on the scales reflect all your hard work so far. But, hang on, the number isn’t that much lower than it was last week! Does the new diet not work? Have you done something wrong?  

If this situation sounds familiar to you, you know how disheartening it can be to feel like you’re not reaping any reward from your hard work. Your motivation wanes and eventually, you might give up on your new healthy habits completely.     

Managing your expectations around weight loss at the beginning of your journey can help you avoid disappointment and feelings of failure in the future. By understanding how much weight you ‘should’ be losing each week and creating realistic goals, you can set yourself up for success.

Do you want to lose weight? Take the Start Strong Diet Quiz to discover how your mindset and motivation can boost your weight loss. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint  

Long term, sustainable weight loss won’t happen overnight. Unfortunately, you can’t (healthily) drop 10 kilograms in two weeks and expect to stay that way forever. Often the changes you’ve made to drop the weight so quickly aren’t permanent. It’s better to think of your weight loss journey as a marathon, not a sprint.  

Changing old habits takes time and commitment. According to Pennie McCoy, CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietitian, the average rate of weight loss is about half a kilogram a week (averaged over 12 weeks). This might not sound like a lot, but achieving this each week will add up to big losses over time – and losses that you’ll be able to maintain. 

Some weeks you might lose more than half a kilogram, others less, and sometimes you might plateau. This can be due to a myriad of reasons that are out of your control, like hormones. Knowing that this will potentially happen to you along your journey will help you identify it as a natural and surmountable obstacle along the way.  

Comparison is the thief of joy 

You might know someone who lost 4 kilograms in their first week, or someone who dropped three dress sizes in a month. So why can’t you? This simply comes down to the fact that everybody’s body and everybody’s journey is completely unique. So many different factors can influence how much weight you will lose, from your hormones to your lifestyle. No two people are the same, so no two weight loss journeys will be the same either.   

“Everybody is unique. We are all individuals, we have our own genetic makeup, we have our own lifestyles, family influences, health conditions, food preferences, exercise preferences – and that’s why it’s difficult to compare yourself to others,” says McCoy.  

While finding inspiration in the journeys of others can be a positive tool for your weight loss, knowing when to step back and refocus on yourself is just as important.  

Set non-scale goals   

Weight loss isn’t just about reaching a certain number on the scales. By measuring your success in a range of different ways – such as your blood glucose or blood pressure improving, your clothes feeling looser or being able to walk further without getting tired – you’ll be able to maintain your motivation over the course of the journey. 

“Weight management is a lifelong journey and everyone struggles with it in different ways. But what you can do is focus on what you can do today, and what you can do tomorrow, and set yourself small goals when times are challenging,” says McCoy.      

Speak to a Total Wellbeing Health Coach  

Your weight loss journey is not something you need to tackle on your own. CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet members can book one-on-one appointments with Health Coaches who are all Accredited Practising Dietitians. Your Health Coach will be able to guide you on your journey and help you set realistic goals that align with your health and lifestyle. 

How to set realistic expectations around weight loss:  

  • Don’t compare yourself to others.   
  • Set yourself non-scale goals and celebrate when you achieve them. 
  • Reflect on your journey and goals often. Focus on the positives and your achievements and learn from your mistakes.   
  • Speak to a Health Coach who can guide you on your journey and help you set personalised, achievable goals.  

Want to learn more? Watch Pennie McCoy discuss how you can make the most of your journey:  

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