Preparation for weight loss increases the chances for losing the weight and keeping it off. The four preparatory steps outlined below will jump-start your effort and keep you moving forward with confidence.
You have been carrying extra pounds for some time – maybe more than a few. You have found a weight-loss program (diet) that you think will work for you and you are ready to get started. That is great! I say “great” with the assumption that you have chosen a healthy path that will allow you to lose weight and sustain good health at the same time.
With that in mind, there are some important basic steps you should take before starting any new diet. These steps are always important, but critically important if you have underlying health issues.
The Four Steps to Prepare for Success
- Talk to Your Doctor
Explain your desire to live a healthier lifestyle and your plans to begin with a weight loss program that includes a specific type of diet. Tell him about the diet you have chosen and why. This is to verify that your choice is a good one for you. Everyone’s body is different and has different nutritional needs – especially if you have a serious medical condition that requires medications such as diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure).
If you have chosen wisely – avoiding any kind of extreme diet, and have selected a balanced plan that adds fruits and vegetables while eliminating all processed foods, I am 99% sure that your doctor will be very supportive.
- Set a Long-term Target
Once you have your doctor’s approval, set a realistic long-term target (and that is all it is – a target). You can set a time frame if you want, or leave it open-ended. The primary intent should be to change your way of eating, lose weight slowly, keep it off, and establish a healthier lifestyle.
Your target should be your ideal (and realistic) weight. In other words the weight that is suitable for your height, body shape, and where you feel your best physically.
For example: Nine months ago I set my target of 150 pounds within 12 months. Having ballooned up to 195 pounds over the previous two years, I had 45 pounds to lose over the next year. Today, at the nine-month mark, I have lost 25 pounds. I may hit my target in three more months, or it may take a little longer. I am OK with either way because I am slowly, but surely moving toward the healthy body that I want to have for he rest of my life.
Set your target and keep it clearly in mind. You may want to make a sign that you post somewhere (on the wall – on your computer, etc.), but do not let it become an obsession. If you stay focused on your new lifestyle choices and eating habits, you will hit your target eventually – and you will be able to sustain your ideal weight.
With your target in mind, plan the specific steps you are going to take day-by-day to lose weight and develop your new, healthier lifestyle. Focus each day – one day at a time – on how you are going to eat well (implementing your new diet that you discussed with your doctor) and the weight will begin to fall off, i promise.
- Prepare a Journal
A record is very helpful during this journey. It should begin with a precise assessment of where you are today – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Your journal can be pen/paper or on your computer.
To begin . . . make notes on your current weight and how you are feeling – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Also, write out a complete description of how you want to look and feel when you reach your target. Finally, include the day-by-day steps you plan to take that will help you reach your target – including diet, exercise, stress relief strategies, and rest.
Make an entry in your journal at the end of each week or month – I do not recommend daily – too obsessive. Write down everything you are happy about and anything you need to change to help you move forward. This is not about beating yourself up when things are not moving as quickly as you had hoped, or if you slip. It is simply a record of your journey. If you do slip, forgive yourself and move on.
Just for fun – you may want to take of picture of you when you begin, and a picture of you when you reach your target (whenever that is) – and possibly a couple of times in between. The mind can be slow in catching up with the body, unless you see pictures of the changes.
- Plan Ahead
When you approach losing weight by selecting a healthy diet that will change your life forever and also take the three preparatory steps listed above, you can move forward with confidence expecting nothing less that success – regardless of how long it takes.
Another important step in your journey will be planning. Remember, you will be taking the process one-day-at-a-time. That does not mean that you will be “winging it.” It means that you should plan what you are going to do each day to ensure that you are always moving in the right direction. Personally, I plan three days at a time – but, you could plan up to a week if it suits you better.
- Plan your meals in advance, at least your big meals (lunch or dinner). The other meals, you can plan the night before if you choose. Find your own rhythm.
- Plan ahead for any social events – parties, going out for drinks/dinner, weddings, company events, or entertaining at home. Before every event, be very clear about what you will eat (and not eat). If you do not plan ahead, you can easily get pulled off track – the temptation may be too great if you are not prepared.
- Plan your exercise routine – and you must exercise, even if it is nothing more than a 20 minute walk each day, every step counts.
- Get plenty of rest – fatigue is a big driver of overeating, or eating the wrong things.
Remember – you are making a lifestyle change! You are not beginning a crash diet to lose 25 pounds and then put them right back on again. You are creating a healthier future.
It is ok to plan an occasional “cheat” treat. But, the key word is “occasional.” Treat yourself to a slice of your favorite pie every month or so, and then get right back into the healthy swing of things.
Also, be prepared for plateaus. They happen! When they do, just keep eating right, exercising, and getting your sleep, you will eventually get past them.
Life is to be enjoyed in a healthy body. Losing weight should not be about depriving yourself. It should be about feeding your body well and keeping it healthy for the long-haul. If you do it right, you will enjoy your new lifestyle very quickly because you will see progress – slow and steady – and it will feel so-o-o-o-o-o good!