Lisa Marie Presley is flaunting a new, slimmer figure—and says she's finally back at her "happy" weight, which is the same amount she weighed as a teenager, according to a recent interview the star did with People. We're all about breaking out the high-school jeans, but is that really a realistic goal weight for most of us?
Maybe not. A new British study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that women tend to have unrealistic weight-loss expectations: Non-obese females said 123 pounds is their "happy" weight, although they admitted that 132 pounds is a more realistic (and reasonable) goal weight. The women's current average weight? 152 pounds—which means they'd have to shed nearly 20 percent of their body mass to achieve their ideal.
Although a 10 percent weight reduction is the point at which overweight people often start to make major health gains, the researchers say that kind of weight loss is often "disappointing" to dieters—we do, after all, live in aBiggest Loser culture, where major weight loss, ASAP, seems totally doable—expected, even.
"I see so many women in my private practice for weight loss, and no matter their age, most have unreasonable weight-loss goals," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., author of The Flexitarian Diet. "Shows like The Biggest Losergive people the idea that weight loss happens fast and dramatically." (Just consider the most recent winner, Rachel Frederickson, who lost 60 percent of her body weight by the season finale.)
So what is a reasonable target? Keri Glassman, R.D., Women's Health's weight-loss expert and founder of Nutritious Life in NYC, suggests jotting down three numbers: your highest-ever weight, your lowest-ever weight, and the number in between, where the scale seems to land when you're eating healthily, but not obsessively so. "Where does your body naturally fall when you're just an average, healthy person—even if it was 20 years ago?" says Glassman. Now, subtract five pounds from that third number. This is a healthy—and totally achievable—goal weight, she says.
As for the rate at which you get there, aim to lose about 1/2 to two pounds per week, says Blatner. "During the first one to two weeks, it may be more like 3 to 5 pounds, if changes are drastic," she says. "But consistently being in the 1/2 to two pound range is great."