Set a sensible weight loss goal

Being a happy, healthy geek can sometimes require some tweaking to your normal eating and exercise habits. The sedendary lifestyle -  working in an office and spending leisure time in front of the computer - can make this tricky. So if you're keen to cut back on your less healthy eating habits and lose some of those extra kilos, here's some tips.

The first thing you need to do is assess where you are in terms of weight and fitness, and set your goal accordingly. Remember that most people who crash diet without taking the time to create some new, healthy eating habits end up putting weight back on once they've "finished" their diet. This is very unhealthy so nix the notion that you can lose weight and then go back to your old unhealthy habits. Weight loss requires permanent changes in your eating habits, end of story. If you're ready to commit to that, then read on for some more tips.
Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog on "How to make a New Year's Resolution that you'll keep" was a nice reality check for this time of the year, so I decided to apply some of her suggestions to one of my significant goals for the year - weight loss.
She says that the hard part is actually setting a sensible goal for yourself. Often resolutions relate to changing a habit such as overeating, drinking or smoking, and we often underestimate how much work it can take to change these habits. She suggests focusing on one habit or resolution, while pointing out that often one habit coming under control will have a flowon effect to helping with the others.
Here's a calculator tool to help you  assess where you currently sit on the BMI Index (Body Mass Index). BMI uses your height and weight to estimate your amount of body fat. A BMI rating of between 20 and 25 is considered in the "healthy" range.
According to Weight Watchers, a loss of  0.5kg to 1kg per week is a healthy rate to lose weight, so don't aim to lose more than that. We're not trying to crash diet but change eating habits to achieve permanent results!
Bear in mind that you will want to include both exercise and eating changes in your  weight loss plan. Half an hour of exercise three times a week should probably be the bare minimum, but you may find it easier to form the exercise habit if you exercise for half an hour every day.
Tracking your food intake can also help you if you want to count your kilojoule intake, or even if you just want to record your food to give you an idea of which of your eating habits are good and which need some help. Calorie King is pretty easy to use. You can set a weekly 'check in' day and it will email you to remind you to weigh in and update your stats such as measurements if you're also tracking your body changes in centimetres. There are also community/social tools if you want to get support and help from others who use the site. 
To help you stay motivated, you can use a tracker which you can post in your blog as a visual reminder of how you're travelling towards your goal. Ticker Factory can display your current weight in kilos or pounds, how far you have to reach your goal, and what your current BMI is. I used to update mine once a week as a way to keep myself honest and on track.
Finally, it's important to have good reasons for losing weight. I think it's fine to want to lose weight to be more healthy, or look better, or fit into old clothes that you love. But many people struggle with their weight for years or their whole life. If you exit 2008 and you've managed to get in the habit of exercising regularly and eating more healthily than you did the year before, then you've achieved something great. The numbers on the scale are just a map to let you know how you're going about getting to those health and fitness goals. The numbers on the scale don't make you a better or worse person. Weight loss should not be the goal itself. Focus on getting more exercise and eating better, and you'll get all the benefits (fitness, more energy, happiness). Weight loss is just part of that journey - don't make it the destination.

Good luck in achieving your goals and having a happy and healthy 2008. :)


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