Have you ever decided to go on a diet, just to fall off the wagon a few days later? Despite what HydroxyCut and all the other magical weight loss pills want you to think, weight loss will require a conscious effort. No that doesn’t mean you have to constantly think about food for the rest of your life but you will have to put in a good amount of thought and effort until you establish good habits. If you are trying to lose weight, you have probably spent a good portion of your life engraining the eating behaviors that have made you gain the weight in the first place. To overcome these habits, you will need to be prepared. You need to know what your general goal is, but then you need to be more specific. “I’m going to start eating healthier” isn’t going to cut it long term. You may make it a day or a week, but long-term changes happen when you have a general goal AND specific plans to reach that goal. Think about how much goes in to making sure you eat healthy. You need to be prepared for your meals, prepared for what you will do when your friend offers you a box of cookies, prepared for your trips to the grocery store, prepared for going out to eat, prepared for a night out on the town, prepared for when you mess up, prepared for exercising, prepared for when you are sad, prepared for when you are bored, prepared for when someone says something mean, prepared for when you need to motivate yourself – You need to prepare you mind for the new you!
I could probably write a whole book on preparing yourself for weight loss because everyone is so different and has unique problems that they must overcome. Meeting with me or another dietitian would be a great way to get help with preparing and finding out the best plan for you. With this article, I hope to scratch the surface and get your gears turning so that you can begin to start the planning process. The preparation process is essentially the blueprint for mapping out your weight loss plan. If you don’t have a blueprint, then your chance of success is small.
Create Your Weight Loss Blueprint
Step 1: Evaluate Yourself
Think of your goals and what you want to accomplish. How much weight do you want to lose? How fast can you lose it while keeping your sanity and doing it in a healthy way? If you are a 150 lb person, you can’t expect to lose 10 lbs in a month in a healthy way while this may be a realistic goal for a 300+ lb person.
What is a realistic change considering your current lifestyle? While I firmly believe that the “I’ll start tomorrow” attitude is a bad approach, you won’t be able to make a complete 360* on you diet and exercise habits if you just moved into a new house, had a baby, and have to work a full time job. You need to be thinking of something that you can realistically accomplish.
Dig deep. You need to ask yourself the hard questions. What are my problem areas? What are barriers that could keep you from eating healthy or exercising? Where do I overeat? In what situations do I tend to make poor food or drink choices? For you it may be weekends, lunch time while you are at work, when you go out to eat, snacks at parties, candy on the counter at your house, when you go out to bars, or you bring the bag of chips with you to watch TV. Be sure to focus on your behaviors that lead to poor eating habits! It’s not just about the food. What led you to go to McDonalds? Maybe you didn’t have food in your pantry. Maybe you didn’t pack a lunch because you were in a rush this morning. Focus on these behaviors – not just the McDonalds. Write these down as you think of your problem areas. WRITE IT DOWN! It will make a huge difference in organizing your thoughts and keeping you accountable later on.
Step 2: Set Your Goals
You have evaluated yourself, and now you are ready to set a goal. Many people fail to succeed because they have vague goals that require very little thought. Like I said earlier, you will have to make a conscious effort.
Your goals should be SMARTER goals. SMARTER is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timed, Evaluated, and Reviewed. It sounds really gimmicky, but it really does lead to good goals. Here is a further explanation of each component of a SMARTER goal:
Specific – Make sure your goal isn’t too general. We’ve all heard people say “I’m going to eat healthier.” What good does that do? You need to be specific.
Measurable – Measurable goals would be numbers like weight, waist size, and body fat percentage. This could also be a certain amount of exercise.
Attainable – Don’t say that you will lose 50 lbs in two months. It won’t happen (and if it does, that would be bad!). The point here is to pick a goal that you can realistically reach.
Relevant – Make it relevant! If you want to lose weight, taking a probiotic or a cinnamon supplement isn’t going to help.
Timed – Your goal should have a time limit on it. We tend to procrastinate if we don’t set a time limit on what we want to accomplish.
Evaluated and Reviewed – After you have executed your plan, you need to evaluate and review what you accomplished. What worked in getting you to your goal and what didn’t work? Did you set your sights too high or too low? What will you do differently when you set your next goal?
Examples of a SMARTER Goal:
I want to lose 5 lbs by the end of June and minimize muscle loss. (Then evaluate and review this goal.)
I want to eat at least one serving of vegetables that isn’t a potato every day.
Examples of BAD Goals:
I want to lose weight. – Not specific or timed.
I want to eat more fruits and vegetables. – Not specific or timed
Step 3: Make Your Plan
Ok, so now you have evaluated yourself and made your goals. Now you have to make a plan to reach these goals. Go back to the list of problem areas that you wrote down for Step 1. These plans should be specific just like the goals.
Goal: I want to lose 5 lbs by the end of June and minimize muscle loss.
1. For the next month, I’m going to calculate my Calorie and Protein needs and use the MyFitnessPal application to track my Calorie and Protein intake after each meal. I’m going to eat 500-600 fewer Calories that I use in a day to lose a little more than 1 lb per week. I’m going to eat enough protein to meet my goal to prevent muscle loss.
2. I’m going to start jogging before dinner in my neighborhood on Tuesday and Friday to increase Calories burned. I will start with 15 minutes per run and increase each run by 5 minutes every week.
3. I’m going to do a full body weight lifting session for 40 minutes on Monday and Thursday mornings with my brother to prevent muscle loss and increase Calories burned. I’m going to look up exercise videos tonight to make sure I know how to perform exercises correctly.
My routine will be:
5 minutes on the elliptical to warm up
Squats: 3 warmup sets, 3 sets of 8 reps
Leg Curls: 3 sets of 10-12
Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 8
Lat Pulldown: 4 sets of 8
Face Pulls: 2 sets of 10-15
Lateral Raises: 2 sets of 10-12
Tricep Pushdowns: 2 sets of 10-12
Bicep Curls: 2 sets of 10-12
Standing Weighted Calf Raises: 3 sets of 10-12
Increase weights every time I’m able to do all my sets with the same weight.
4. I’m going to stop going to the store hungry to avoid buying unhealthy snacks like cookies and donuts. If I’m hungry and I need to go to the store, I’ll drink a glass of water, eat a fruit or vegetable, and then fo to the store.
5. I’m going to drink a glass of water before every and snack meal to fill me up and prevent overeating.
6. I’m going to buy frozen vegetable and fruits so that I have healthy food options available when I go to the store.
7. I’m going to prepare healthy meals on weekends and eat them for lunch throughout the week instead of going out to eat.
8. I’m going to try to include two different foods with a good amount of fiber (whole grain, fruit, or vegetable) and protein (low-fat dairy or lean protein) at each meal to keep me full.
9. I’m going to go to sleep early so that I can wake up earlier to make a healthy, balanced breakfast instead of eating a granola bar or sugary cereal.
10. I’m going to limit myself to 3 drinks when I go out with friends and stick to light beer or mixed drinks made with Diet Coke or soda water.
Your plan should be very extensive and longer than my example above. As you identify new problem areas that you could improve, you should adjust your plan to fix the problems. It seems simple, but just writing it down and looking over it every once in a while can help to keep you accountable. Try it and let me know if it works for you.
What Matters In this Blog Post:
1. You need a weight loss plan! It will take a conscious effort to change the eating habits that you have spent years developing.
2. You should start by evaluating yourself. What is your current situation? What are realistic goals for you?
3. Identify your problem areas and WRITE THEM DOWN! Focus on behaviors that make you overeat or make poor food choices.
4. Set a SMARTER goal – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timed, Evaluated, and Reviewed.
5. Make a plan to reach the goal and address the problem areas that you wrote down before.