Weight loss goals are often tied to our emotional well-being; therefore you need an emotional “anchor” to provide you the motivation to reach your goal. Are you losing weight to improve the quality of your life? Are you losing weight to feel better about your self-image? To be more physically attractive to another person? To compete with a sibling or friend? To look good at class reunion or wedding? Losing weight takes more than desire. It takes commitment and a well-thought-out plan. Figure out your top reason for wanting to achieve your weight goals and use that to fuel your journey!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started.
Step 1: Make a pledge.
Making the choice to lose weight, change your life, and become healthier is a big step. Start by making a commitment to yourself. Write down your reason for wanting to lose the weight and sign it; like making a contract with yourself. Post it on your refrigerator. Underneath your reason write down the amount of weight you want to lose, the date you’d like to lose the weight by, the dietary changes you’ll make to establish healthy eating habits, and a workout.
Step 2: Take stock of where you are.
Talk to a your health care provider and have them evaluate your height, weight, and weight-related risk factors you may have.
Next, record a “food diary” for a few days, in which you write down everything you eat. By doing this, you become more mindful of what you are eating and when you are eating. This awareness can help you avoid overeating.
Now examine your current lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. For example, does your work schedule make it difficult to get enough exercise? Do you find yourself eating sugary foods because that’s what’s easy? Do you frequent happy hour with coworkers? Think and note everything that can pose a challenge to your goal so that you are prepared to overcome it.
Step 3: Set rational goals.
Set both short term and long term weigh loss goals. A few short-term goals will keep you on track and focus towards achieving your long term goal. If your long-term goal is to lose 50 pounds, control your high blood pressure, and add ten years to your life some short-term goals might include starting each day with a healthy breakfast and a brisk walk. Focus on two goals at a time. Effective goals are specific, realistic, and slightly less than perfect. For example, “exercise more” is not a specific goal. But if you say, “I will attend a martial arts program 3 times a week for six months”, you are now setting a specific and realistic. Small changes every day will lead to big results in the long run!
Step 4: Identify resources.
Identify the family members and friends who will support your weight loss efforts and spend time with them. Making lifestyle changes is easier when you have people you can talk to and rely on for support. Learn if you have coworkers or neighbors with similar weigh loss goals and band together! Joining a weight loss group and signing up for exercise classes are great resources as well!
Step 5: Continually “stay accountable” with yourself.
Revisit the goals you set for yourself and assess your progress regularly. Are you walking every morning like you promised yourself? If not perhaps you can shift your work schedule a little to come in an hour later or perhaps fit the walk in during your lunch. Evaluate what is working and what needs tweaking.
If you are consistently achieving a particular goal, add a new twist to it in order to keep it fresh and fun! Also, reward yourself for your successes! Acknowledge when you’re meeting your goals and be proud of your headway. Use non-food bonuses as reward! Catch a baseball game, purchase that new pair of jeans, treat yourself to a spa day! Remember that rewards help keep you motivated on your path to better health.