Jewels Doskicz, RN, is a freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. She and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

By setting attainable weight loss goals, success is within your reach:

1. Adopt a mantra

Start by adopting specific thoughts, such as: “I will pack my work lunch every day except Friday,” “I will only eat out once a week,” or “I will exercise five days a week.” These will be meaningful mantras because they are created by, and resonate with, you.

Helpful thoughts are a vital part of successfully making the life changes required of us when managing our weight over the long haul—and even small changes can have big results.

2. Start with small goals

“The good news is that many studies have found that, in those who are obese, a weight loss of just 5–10 percent of your body weight can make a huge difference in cardiovascular markers, Alex Geiger, MPH and medical student, told Diabetic Connect.

If you weigh 250 pounds, for example, 5 percent of your weight is 12.5 pounds and 10 percent is 25 pounds.

While weight loss greater than 5–10 percent continues to yield additional benefits in a dose-dependent fashion (i.e., more weight loss = greater benefits), the initial 5–10 percent may have the biggest impact, explained Geiger.

3. Be realistic

One of the biggest obstacles he finds when patients try to lose weight is their all-or-nothing thinking. He finds that people tend to set unrealistic, lofty goals like never missing a day of exercise or never eating birthday cake again.

“The patients who are successful are usually those who make small, sustainable steps that are realistic and fit their lifestyle,” states Geiger. And he would know. Following his own sage advice, he has lost 55 pounds and counting.

4. Find what motivates you

How can you get going? Find your motivation—a process that’s different for everyone. You might launch by identifying things you’d like to improve about your health and lifestyle that are related to your weight, because weight loss has large impacts beyond the numbers on a scale. Geiger, in the midst of his busy life as a medical student, decided to begin his weight-loss journey as a commitment to himself.

“Whether it’s my professional or personal life, being healthy allows me to be at the top of my game! I can be a better husband and a better provider to my patients when I am healthy. I feel better than ever, have more energy, and can enjoy life much more when I am not worrying about impending heart disease.”

Health markers

Obesity, and especially increased visceral fat (fat found deep within your abdomen, often surrounding your organs), plays a significant role in cardiovascular health, explains Geiger.

Studies have found that increased visceral fat may contribute to high triglycerides, reduced HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increased blood pressure, increased fasting blood sugars, and increased inflammatory molecules.

“All of these make your risk for cardiovascular disease skyrocket, as well as your risk for other chronic conditions like arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers.”

Geiger recommends that the easiest way to determine if you have excess abdominal fat is through waist circumference. “In general, risk for cardiovascular disease goes up in men with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches, and in women, greater than 35 inches.”

Geiger's tips for setting weight-loss goals

  • Pick one new goal each week.
  • Make your goals specific, such as getting rid of soda, picking healthier snacks or meals, or exercising more.
  • Work on each new behavior until it becomes a habit.

In a matter of months, you will have a life filled with sustainable, healthy habits.
“If it has been a while since a reader last exercised, or if they have any chronic health conditions, they should be sure to visit their doctor before they start a new diet or exercise program,” reminds Geiger.

This will both ensure you are healthy enough for all activities and give you some metrics from a healthcare provider that you can use to monitor your progress.

“It’s easier to continue healthy changes when you see numbers like your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improving too,” Geiger says. “I feel great and it's amazing to be able to achieve all of my physical goals as well. I'm stronger and healthier every day.”

Take your first steps today and join Geiger in finding health successes.

What’s the best advice you ever heard about losing weight? Add your comment below and help others in our community.