Losing weight takes more than desire. It takes commitment and a well-thought-out plan. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started.
Step 1: Make a commitment.
Start simply by making a commitment to yourself. Many people find it helpful to sign a written contract committing to the process. This contract may include things like 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 plan for getting regular physical activity. Writing down the reasons why you want to lose weight can also help.
Step 2: Take stock of where you are.
Consider talking to your health care provider. He or she can evaluate your height, weight, and explore other weight-related risk factors you may have. Examine your current lifestyle. Keep a “food diary” for a few days to become more aware of what you are eating and when you are eating. This awareness can help you avoid mindless eating. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts, such as work, travel, or social events and outings.
Think about aspects of your lifestyle that can help you lose weight, such as walking during lunch or exercising at a local community center with services for watching your kids.
Step 3: Set realistic goals.
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 and physical activity goals might be to start eating breakfast, taking a 15 minute walk in the evenings, or having a salad or vegetable with supper. Focus on two or three goals at a time. 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.
Step 4: Identify resources for information and support.
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 neighbours with similar goals, and together you can share healthful recipes and plan group exercise. Joining a weight loss group or visiting a health care professional such as a registered dietitian, can help.
Step 5: Continually “check in” with yourself to monitor your progress.
Revisit the goals you set for yourself (in Step 3) and evaluate your progress regularly. Evaluate which parts of your plan are working well and which ones need tweaking. If you are consistently achieving a particular goal, add a new goal to help you continue on your pathway to success. Reward yourself for your successes! Recognise when you’re meeting your goals and be proud of your progress. Use non-food rewards, such as a bouquet of freshly picked flowers, a sports outing with friends, or a relaxing bath. Rewards help keep you motivated on the path to better health.