As someone famous once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Just taking that single first step is sometimes the hardest part of doing something…just getting started, especially with projects or decluttering can be daunting. And then it seems that once you get started you build momentum and you want to keep going. Losing weight can can be the same way, sometimes we need a jump-start to help us start to lose weight. One single step that motivates us, that we can build on to want to keep going to lose more weight.
First, to lose weight you need a plan. But, as we all know, losing weight takes a bit more than just desire and a plan. It takes commitment and a well-thought-out plan. Here is a 5 step plan to get you started on your journey to lose weight, be it 5 pounds or 50 pounds.
Making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle, and become healthier is a big step to take. With each of the five steps listed below we’ll offer a “Baby Step” and then a “Take it a Little Further” option with additional ideas for helping you lose weight.
Step 1: Make a Written Commitment to Start Losing Weight
A. Baby Step:
- Start simply, by making a written commitment to yourself. This written weight loss commitment will include your starting weight and your goal weight or the number of pounds you’d like to lose. You could use a journal to write this goal, or a note card, but the Best Tool is a free phone App, such as My Fitness Pal or LoseIt or Carb Manager. Download the app to your phone right now; enter your current weight and how many pounds you want to lose. When you first log in to most apps, you’ll be asked to enter your personal details, including starting weight, goal weight, gender, and height
B. Take it a little further:
- Write down your plans or the process you will undertake to start losing weight. This may include things like:
- the date you’d like to lose the weight by or
- dietary changes you’ll make to establish healthy eating habits or
- a plan for getting regular physical activity or
- how many steps a day you’ll walk
- foods you’ll give up or foods you’ll start eating
- No pressure here, just write a paragraph or bullet points on an index card listing the things you want to commit to…don’t overdo it, keep it simple, and put the card in your wallet.
- Writing down the reasons why you want to lose weight can also help. It might be because you have a family history of heart disease, or because you want to see your kids get married, or simply because you want to feel better in your clothes. You could post these reasons where they serve as a daily reminder of why you want to make this change.
Step 2: Take Stock of Where You Are
A. Baby Step:
- In the My Fitness Pal or Carb Manager or LoseIt app or your notebook start immediately logging everything you eat. Write down everything you eat each day. By doing this, you become more aware of what you are eating and when you are eating. This awareness can help you avoid mindless eating. Gradually you may notice that day by day you start to make better eating choices, be it foods or portions. Do this everyday, and when starting out try to do it several times throughout the day rather than waiting till the end of the day when it might be harder to remember exactly what you’ve eaten during the day.
- Basic Food Diary Printable Page
B. Take it a Little Further:
- Make a doctor’s appointment. Have your height, weight, and blood pressure checked, also have blood work done to check your cholesterol, A1C, vitamin D and B12 levels, etc. Before you leave the doctor’s office make a follow-up appointment for 4-5 months from your current appointment. It’ll be a good check-in to see how all your numbers have changed. Keep the 2nd appointment, don’t cancel it, no matter how good or bad you did trying to start losing weight this time.
- Think about aspects of your lifestyle where you can make small shifts that can help you lose weight. For example, is there an area near your workplace where you can take a walk at lunchtime or could you walk the stairs in your building during your break time? Can you commit to going to the gym a couple days a week – can you afford to join a local gym like Planet Fitness which has relatively inexpensive monthly fees? Instead of white bread can you eat wheat or whole grain bread, instead of chocolate chip cookies can you eat graham crackers? Can you cut out soda and fruit juice, wine and cocktails, and drink more water? Small changes add up, and any one of them done consistently can help you start losing weight.
Step 3: Choose a Lane
A. Baby Step:
- Take your Pick – Keto, The Paleo, the Zone, the Atkins, Low Carb, Vegan, Low Fat, High Fat, Mediterranean Diet, Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, SlimFast, NutriSystem
- Pick a diet, any diet, whichever appeals to you the most; choose a diet you think you will be able to stick to for at least 60 days. However, keep in mind that if you need to lose weight, you need to count calories, no matter which diet you choose – and this is where the phone app from step one comes in handy! You want to keep track of the calories so you don’t go over your recommended allowance by eating too many of the wrong foods on a particular diet. Stick with the diet you choose for no less than 30 days.
- Research the diet plan you chose.
- Recommended Daily Calories Chart
B. Take it Further:
- Set some short-term goals and reward your efforts along the way. If your long-term goal is to lose 40 pounds and to control your high blood pressure, some short-term eating goals might be to start eating breakfast daily, or start eating a healthier breakfast, having a salad daily, adding an extra vegetable to dinner, intermittent fasting. If it helps, write your short term goals on an index card, keep it in your wallet.
- Remember, Great, effective goals are —Specific, Realistic, Forgiving. For example, “Exercise More” is not a specific goal. But if you say, “I will walk 15 minutes, 3 days a week for the first week,” you are setting a specific and realistic goal for the first week.
- Remember, small changes every day can lead to big results in the long run. Also remember that realistic goals are achievable goals. By achieving your short-term goals day-by-day, you’ll feel good about your progress and be motivated to continue. Setting unrealistic goals, such as losing 20 pounds in 3 weeks, can leave you feeling defeated and frustrated.
- Being realistic also means expecting occasional setbacks. Setbacks happen when you get away from your plan for whatever reason – maybe the holidays, longer work hours, or another life change. When setbacks happen, get back on track as quickly as possible. Also take some time to think about what you would do differently if a similar situation happens, to prevent setbacks.
Step 4: Resources and Products for information and support
A. Baby Step:
- Tools that can help you in your journey to lose weight: A smart scale that can sync with your phone app is a great tool.
- Apps for your phone are a great source of information and support. Find tools online that will help you with meal planning, recipes, calorie counting, whatever works for you personally.
- If you can afford it, a FitBit is a helpful tool when trying to lose weight, it helps us realize the true amount of time we’ve been active, monitors your sleep, heart and more.
- A gym membership.
- Home exercise equipment; weights, treadmill, etc.
- YouTube or On Demand fitness videos can be great to follow along with and motive you.
B. Take it Further:
- Keep in mind everyone is different – what works for someone else might not be right for you. Just because your neighbor lost weight by taking up running, doesn’t mean running is the best option for you. Try a variety of activities – walking, swimming, tennis, or group exercise classes to see what you enjoy most and can fit into your life. These activities will be easier to stick with over the long term.
- If you’re more social, you can try to find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support. You might have coworkers or neighbors with similar goals, and together you can share healthful recipes and plan group exercise.
- Join a weight loss group or visit a health care professional such as a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Check to see if your health insurance plan covers these services.
- Sign up for sessions with a trainer at the gym
- Join an online weight loss community
Step 5: Try some of these Handy Tips to help you lose weight
- Don’t wait; start today! Every great journey starts with a single step; take one step today toward your weight loss goal.
- Fill a one gallon pitcher or jug with water each day and be sure to pretty much drink it all by the end of the day. The Institute of Medicine recommends 91 ounces of total water a day for women and an average of 125 fl oz daily for men,this refers to the total daily fluid intake from all sources, including water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages.
- Use an app tracker. Lose It, My Fitness Pal, Carb Manager are all great ones. Studies show that people who track their food lose more weight than those that don’t track.
- Sleep 8-8.5 hours per night. Studies show that lack of sleep is linked to obesity.
- Try intermittent fasting where you eat all your meals between noon and 8 p.m
- Try really reducing your carbs for a week. Read the labels; know exactly how many carbs are in everything you eat, you’d be surprised. Replace these with low-carb vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, low carb choices.
- Determine your Calorie Budget: Here is a handy tool: How many calories per day should i eat?