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How to Make Realistic Weight-Loss Goals

Hoping to fit into your high school jeans by the end of the month? Sorry -- probably not so realistic. It can be helpful to have goals, but make sure they’re achievable (and healthy).

In general, a safe rate of weight loss is one percent of your body weight a week, according to Kelli Calabrese, fitness coach and author of the 30 Day Detox Fat Burning Meal Plan. That means someone who weighs 200 pounds should aim to lose about 2 pounds a week (8 a month), while a 150-pound person should set a goal of 1.5 pounds a week (6 a month). And this is one time when over-achieving gets you nowhere: 90% of dieters will eventually regain their weight, partially because they’re losing it too fast, Calabrese says.

So what happens when you're not losing weight fast enough? Assuming you're sticking to your diet and exercise program, it’s time to consider outside factors. According to Calabrese, sleep deprivation (less than 7 hours a night), constant stress, and dehydration all make it harder to shed pounds.

And when setting goals as a couple, try to accept that you probably won’t lose the same amount of weight at the same rate -- no matter how frustrating that may feel. Sorry ladies, biologically speaking, the weight-loss game is a little easier for men. Guys tend to have more muscle mass, which translates to faster metabolisms, Calabrese says. Men also usually weigh more than women -- so if you’re sticking to the 1 percent a week rule, they’ll naturally lose pounds faster. "Don’t get frustrated," says Calabrese: instead of numbers, focus on your mutual commitment to getting healthier.

-- Laura Schocker

See More: Diet & Fitness , Shape-Up Challenge , So Random