Striving for your wedding-day weight or some other magic number on the scale can be daunting. It's much easier to reach for an incremental goal that promises sizable health benefits: Losing just 10 percent of your current body weight.
"So many projects in life are better managed by breaking them down into small chunks," observes Karen Miller-Kovach, MS, RD, chief scientist at Weight Watchers International. "Weight loss is no different."
But the body you've always wanted isn't all you'll get out of accomplishing that one starter goal. Here's what else you'll gain by losing 10 percent:
A Healthier Heart. By losing just 10 percent of your body weight, you can lower your cholesterol and reduce your blood pressure, says G. Ken Goodrick, PhD, psychologist. High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are two major risk factors for heart disease.
- Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. If you're overweight, you're at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, which means your body can't make enough, or properly use, insulin, a hormone that helps convert food to usable energy. By losing just 10 percent of your body weight, you'll improve your body's ability to use the insulin it makes, possibly preventing the onset of the disease, Miller-Kovach says. If you already have Type 2 diabetes, shedding that 10 percent may improve your symptoms and possibly prevent complications, she adds.
- More Pep. "Just a 10-percent weight loss increases feelings of vigour and vitality," says Miller-Kovach. "You'll feel better and have more energy."
- A Mental Edge. Losing 10 percent can give you the self-confidence and motivation you need to keep going. "Success builds on success," says Miller-Kovach. But be sure you recognise it. The 10% key chain your Weight Watchers leader gives you is part of that recognition. "Losing 10 percent is a milestone in the journey," says Miller-Kovach. "Once you get there, take the time to congratulate yourself on your efforts."
- Reality Check. After losing 10 percent, you gain a sense of what it will take to lose the rest and reach your final goal weight. "It gives you a context in terms of saying, 'Am I willing to put in that much more effort to lose even more weight?'" Miller-Kovach says. If the answer is no, that's okay. "Some people only lose 10 percent and that's it," says Goodrick. If that's you, pat yourself on the back. "Health-wise, a 10-percent weight loss is a great achievement," Goodrick says.