Want to lose weight? First up, grab the measuring tape and do some calculations!

Set the right weight loss goal - IMAGE - Women's Health and Fitness magazine

If you choose an unrealistic number your chances of sucess dwindle and your changes of feeling like you've failed your weight loss goals dramatically increase. So rather than choosing digits at random, grab the measuring tape and do some calculations.

Start small

"The first thing to say is that if you are very overweight, success should not be judged on meeting some idealistic goal weight," says practising dietitian and nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan.

"By losing only seven per cent of your body weight, you dramatically reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases associated with being overweight.

"Small, achievable goals are much more inspiring. Once you get there, you can always make another, but setting the bar too high often ends up being demoralising."

Monitor progress

She suggests using measurements to monitor progress and setting goals other than weight.

"Ideal weight ranges use BMI and that has inherent problems," the Sydney based expert explains.

"It doesn't assess how much muscle and body fat you have. A better measure is your waist measurement. Low risk for women is a waist less than 80 cm, and they are at substantial risk if over 88 cm. For men, those cut-offs are 94 cm and 102 cm."

 

Those last few kilos...

 

Also consider why you want to lose weight. And do you actually need to? Those last two or three kilos may never fall off if you are already at the right weight for your body. Maybe you have plateaued for a reason.

"A good way to determine this is to shift your mindset from weight to health," Lewis says.

"Examine your habits and make personal and permanent changes to what and why you eat for reasons of health and let weight loss happen if it's right for you – how liberating!"

NEXT: Be inspired by real-life body transformations