Setting Goals: You’ve Gotta Do the Math! Ugh!

Iz Thinkin Up Goalzzzzz © 2011Ok, first let me state without question that goals are a guideline, not the law.

Goals are more like the “Pirate Code” from the Disney movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” than the “Law” as handed down from the Supreme Court.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, laws change.   So should goals.

Setting Long Range Goals

I have this Excel spreadsheet where I track my daily weight and body fat percentage and compare it against my goals.  And when I started plugging in the goal numbers, I realized I was being unrealistic in my goals.  I had set my ultimate goal for 190 lbs.  But to achieve that without loosing any muscle mass I would have to have 7% Body Fat.  Given my age, that is not realistic.

My NEW adjusted goal is 194 lbs and 12% Body Fat.  However, pay attention dear readers, all six of you who are actually reading this blog, IF I don’t get to those numbers that’s ok.  As long as I feel healthy then that’s awesome!   As long as all the quantitative measurements like a smaller waistline, better flexibility, more energy, no high blood pressure, and better more restful sleep, all say I’m healthy, then who really gives a flip what the final number is.

However, having some specific goals does help keep you on track.  At least it does for me.  I like to think of it as a quick and handy “shorthand” that describes in two numbers how I’m progressing toward living healthy.  But if I end up 220 and 14% BF, so be it.  Because you can be healthy at every size.

Setting Weekly Intermediate Goals

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • A safe rate of weight loss is about 1% of your current total body weight per week.  So, since I weigh 284.5 lbs right now, the most I could safely loose over the next 7 days would be 2.84 pounds.  As I decrease in size, the “safe amount” per week also will decrease in size.  My spreadsheet is set up to check for this.
  • The goal is to lose body fat without loosing any muscle mass.  Which means my Lean Body Mass needs to remain above 165 lbs.  Muscle Good.  Excess Fat Bad.  Minimum levels of necessary fat for health Good!  Me Tarzan.  Where Cheetah? But I digress  🙂

When I started plugging in the numbers, I simply put in my starting goal and my ending goal then divided by the number of weeks I saw that my “Lean Body Mass” also known as muscle was also dropping if I did it equally from now to my goal date which is Worlds in Jan of 2013.

Here is a chart showing what happens when the rate of loss is divided equally each week.  Yellow is Fat.  Red is Muscle.  You’ll see that I first gain extra muscle mass but eventually lose some of those gains.  Yes, I end up with more muscle than I started but I’d like there to be a steady rate of gain with no loss of muscle at all.

Chart showing equal split  ©2011

Here is the adjusted goals with modifications made to the weekly goals so that muscle mass increases at a steady rate with no loss.  Yellow is Fat; Red is Muscle.

Chart showing steady muscle gain ©2011

I’ve told you mine so tell me yours…

What is the “Ideal Body Fat Percentage” for you?  We’ve pretty much established that while there are ranges and guidelines, it all depends on the individual.  Age and gender are big factors contributing to the what is a good body fat percentage, but it really does boil down to listening to your body and deciding what is right for you.  Some people might feel and perform better at a higher or lower body fat percentage than others of the same age and sex.  The first table shows ranges for the average population (from

Body Fat Percentage for The Average Population
Age Up to 30 30-50 50+
Females 14-21% 15-23% 16-25%
Males 9-15% 11-17% 12-19%

The second table is the average body fat percentage for different athletes in different sports (from

Average Body Fat Percentage of Athletes
Sport Male Female Sport Male Female
Baseball 12-15% 12-18% Rowing 6-14% 12-18%
Basketball 6-12% 20-27% Shot Putters 16-20% 20-28%
Body building 5-8% 10-15% Skiing (X country) 7-12% 16-22%
Cycling 5-15% 15-20% Sprinters 8-10% 12-20%
Football (Backs) 9-12% No data Swimming 9-12% 14-24%
Football (Linemen) 15-19% No data Tennis 12-16% 16-24%
Gymnastics 5-12% 10-16% Triathlon 5-12% 10-15%
High/long Jumpers 7-12% 10-18% Volleyball 11-14% 16-25%
Ice/field Hockey 8-15% 12-18% Weightlifters 9-16% No data
Racquetball 8-13% 15-22% Wrestlers 5-16% No data

For more tables and information on Body Fat Percentage Ranges, check out my post:  What is a Healthy Body Fat Percentage?

Related Links / Articles


About TxCowboyDancer

Professional Dance Instructor teaching Country, Ballroom, Swing, Latin and Line Dance. Eleven time Country Dance World Champion.

Posted on Sun, Dec 11, 2011, in Misc and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

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