We've heard diet doctors and fitness gurus preach this to us over and over. And it makes sense on the surface. Isn't it better to be realistic, and set goals that we can be reasonably sure of accomplishing, such as being able to fit into those mom jeans that we bought recently, rather than vowing to lose 50 pounds (23 kilograms) in a few months?
The problem, though, is that according a summary of research findings in the New England Journal of Medicine, ambitious goals for weight loss actually are more likely to result in a greater number of lost pounds. And while intervening and convincing people to have supposedly more realistic goals does result in more moderate weight-loss expectations, it doesn't necessarily improve the chances of accomplishing them. In two studies where the weight loss goals were changed to make them more realistic, no greater weight loss outcome was recorded [source: Casazza et al.]. So go ahead, imagine that Jillian Michaels is screaming in your ear to do more burpees and aim for dropping major pounds.