Why Target 10 Percent?

This initial weight-loss goal comes complete with great physical and emotional benefits.
Why Target 10 Percent?
Many Weight Watchers members and online subscribers have heard of the 10-percent target—the suggested initial goal of dropping 10 percent of the weight you start the plan with—but don't really know what it is. Practically speaking, if you joined at 200 pounds, your 10-percent goal would be 20 pounds. It's noted in your weigh-in book or online Weight Tracker.
I certainly didn't have a clue about it when I first joined but, by the time I achieved it, you might have thought I'd invented it. In fact, I will never forget the day I achieved it. My Leader placed the 10-percent keychain—a token to acknowledge the milestone—in my outstretched hand and I stared at it as if it had been minted just for me. As other members had reached their target, I was aware of how noticeable their weight loss became at that point. Holding the keychain, I realized just how significant my own weight-loss achievement was.

I attached it to my regular keychain, and still carry it to this day, five years later. I actually think it should come with a warning label. "Caution: Achieving the 10-percent target may induce feelings of great accomplishment and incomparable joy."

Stephanie Graston, who recently surpassed her target, says, "It took time and patience to get to my 10-percent goal, but once I crossed that line, I knew I could conquer anything!"

No one gives you a time frame in which to achieve this goal. You don't even need to hit the goal if you don't want to. Instead, it's meant to represent a manageable mini-goal that can take pressure off starting the weight-loss program, especially if you have a great deal of weight to lose. It's not a prerequisite to becoming a Lifetime Member; in fact, you only need to lose five pounds to do that.

When Weight Watchers added the 10-percent target in January of 2000, it was called "The 10-percent difference." According to Stephanie Schoemer, MS, RD, Program Development Manager for Weight Watchers, the program change was introduced because research showed that losing just 10 percent of one's body weight "translates to significant health benefits."

She's referring to changes such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It also seems to increase life expectancy and decreased lifetime medical care costs by $2,200 to $5,300. A 10- to 15-percent weight loss could even lower the risk of premature illness and death.

Health benefits aside, the emotional and motivational effects of small amounts of weight loss are exceptional. "Losing 10 percent extends beyond these [health] benefits to include increased feelings of vigor, vitality and increased motivation. Success breeds success, and setting achievable goals is a key component of sustainable weight loss," Schoemer adds.

Members agree. "For me, I was originally working towards the 10-percent goal as a milestone," explains Diana L., a Weight Watchers member in New York City. "Then, when I reached it, I realized that I wasn't just proud of the number on the scale, I had accomplished so much more. I had more energy overall; I was working out harder at the gym, sleeping better at night, and was more focused on losing more weight and reaching my long-term weight goal. I know I'm going to get there."

Don't underestimate the impact of losing 10 percent. Take a look at the chart below to see the equivalent weight of everyday objects to your 10-percent weight loss. Then imagine carrying the object with you each day, all day long. Think how wonderful you'll feel when you put that burden down and literally lighten up.

Pounds to Lose Everyday Object
15 pounds Chubby house cat
18 pounds 24-can case of soda
20 pounds Two–year-old child
23 pounds Average cocker spaniel
25 pounds Extra large bag of dog food
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