Most people view weight loss as a difficult process and a stressful chore. In this blog, I’m going to explain to you 4 MUST-TAKE steps to start your weight loss journey. These steps will help make the experience more pleasant, reduce stress, and set you up for success.
First, let’s get you thinking in the right mindset with this little analogy. When you prepare for a new job, you just don’t show up and say, “Hey! I’m ready to work.” Right?
You first update your resume, prepare for a change in work hours, get up earlier or go to bed earlier, maybe arrange for childcare, commute on a new route, and maybe even buy some new clothes. These are just a few things you would have to do to get ready for a new job.
In other words, you would have to make some life changes. You do all this because it’s important to you. It’s a priority. You want to do well and you want to succeed. The changes are done without any hesitation, they are necessary, and so you make it happen.
To lose weight, and to keep it off for life, you MUST think the same way. Waking up and saying, “Okay, today I will begin to lose weight” with no prep work is setting yourself up for failure. Your life is not ready. You need to prepare first, just like you need to prepare for a new job.
Losing weight successfully requires a change in your habits and lifestyle. So, thinking back to the job prep, let’s apply the same mindset to preparing your weight loss journey. Here are four MUST-TAKE steps to help you get ready:
1. ASK YOURSELF WHY
Ask yourself why you want to lose weight. Are you doing this for you? Your weight loss journey has to be driven by passion and meaning. It has to be important to YOU! It doesn’t matter what others think, it only matters what you think. So sit down and reflect. Better yet, discuss it with a close friend who you trust and will give you honest feedback. Hash it out, and jot it down.
2. MAKE S.M.A.R.T. GOALS
Create S.M.A.R.T. goals for your weight loss journey. Goals are important to have as they help keep you on track and motivated. Take it seriously, and set yourself off on the right foot using a S.M.A.R.T. goal template:
- S-Specific: state the specific amount of weight you want to lose. List three major eating habits you need to change to make weight loss happen. State how often you will workout and what exercises you will do. Will you do this on your own or with the help of a personal coach?
- M-Measurable: describe how you will measure your progress and how often. Will you use only the scales or will you also take body measurements and photos?
- A-Attainable: the goal HAS to be attainable, otherwise you will struggle and eventually quit, creating a negative experience. It’s hard to get started up again after that, so take a look at your whole life and figure out what is manageable. Consider what you are currently juggling, and what you are facing in the near future. You will need to make some lifestyle changes to lose weight. What do you need to do first to make this goal attainable?
- R-Realistic: first, is the amount of weight you want to lose realistic? Often people want to lose too large of an amount in too short of a time. Start with a smaller goal. Smaller steps lead to big changes overtime. Second, what fitness routine did you create? Does it realistically fit in with what you’re already juggling on a daily basis. Do not under-estimate the power of Express workouts. 10-20 minute workouts CAN make a difference. Third, think about your eating habits. Are you trying to make too many changes at once? Pick ONE change and work at that until it’s sustainable. Then take on the next. Too much too soon creates stress. You want this to be a positive experience, so set REALISTIC goals. Break it down into manageable sections. Change takes time and patience.
- T-Timed: you should put a time limits on your goals. If you don’t, then they can drag on and on. An example could be to lose 4lbs in one month. That’s an average of 1lb per week. Most people who need to lose weight can handle this goal. If you achieve it before the month is up, then you can set a new goal with a new date.
3. MEAL PLANNING & FOOD PREP
Meal planning and food prep is so, so, soooooooooo very important to losing weight and changing habits. These activities have enormous value. It not only sets you up for success, but also saves you time during the week. Yes, it does take time to meal plan and food prep each week but this is part of living. People need to stop looking at feeding themselves or their family as a chore and look at it as a meaningful part of their life. After all, it is crucial to survival and being healthy. Embrace the process. Put music on and grab a glass of wine. Make it into a weekly family activity where everyone has a part to play and contributes.
Here is a step-by-step way to go about it:
- PLAN: sit down with your family, partner, or by yourself and jot down the titles of 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 suppers, and 14 snacks. Create a 7-day chart and input the titles in the proper slots. By doing this, you just created a 7-day meal plan.
- COLLECT: do any of the meals need a recipe? If so, gather them up. Print them off and put in a folder or create a card box with dividers. Create a section for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. This is the beginning of creating your very own personalized recipe book.
- LIST: make a list of all the ingredients you do not have for the 7-day meal plan and go grocery shopping. Click here for templates.
- ORGANIZE: unpack all the groceries and organize them in your kitchen. Does anything need to be chopped or prepared right away? If so, do it! Do not procrastinate.
- PREPARE: now that you have everything in place and at your reach, you can prepare. Pack lunches the night before, use your slow cooker and create mason jar meals. Think big meals so you can freeze the leftovers or eat them for days until it’s all gone. Once you get used to meal planning and food prep, the task gets easier and efficient. I made a huge pot of stew this week for me and my partner and it fed us for five days. It makes eating healthy so easy and CONVENIENT!
4. CREATE A F.I.T.T. FITNESS ROUTINE
Use the F.I.T.T. formula to create a fitness routine that will give you results. Whatever you decide to do, pick activities that you enjoy and can see yourself doing on a regular basis. This will help you remain committed to the program.
- F – Frequency: how often can you realistically workout per week? If this is a new activity for you, set a number like 3 x per week as a starting point.
- I – Intensity: to set intensity, think about your current level of fitness. Understand your limits. If you are new, start easy and gradually increase intensity overtime. You want to avoid injury. At the same time, don’t lollygag in a zone that’s too easy for you. You won’t see results soon enough. Results are rewarding = motivation to keep going.
- T – Time: set a realistic workout duration. For weight loss, workouts do not need to be longer than an hour, including your warm up and cool down. In fact, Express Workouts are very effective, and they last on average about 10-20 minutes.
- T – Type: what type of exercises will you do? There is so much to choose from and anything goes. Walking, running, cycling, aerobics, weightlifting, and the list goes on. Try to be well rounded and include cardio, strength, and flexibility into your weekly routine.
So, using the F.I.T.T. formula for someone with a beginner level fitness could look like this: three 15 minute workouts per week, at 6pm on Mon-Wed-Fri, at low intensity for the first two weeks, then moderate intensity for the following two weeks. After four weeks, the participant could reassess their fitness level and take on something with a bit more “oomph.”
The key in using fitness for weight loss is regular practice. Exercising for one week and then skipping the next is not going to help you. Make a commitment and you will see results!
So that’s it folks. After reading this, you should have a greater understanding of key MUST-TAKE steps to start your weight loss journey. Set yourself up for success right from the beginning by completing all the tasks above. It takes time, patience, and lots of practice to get it right and make it stick.
Believe you can do it, and you will!
Got any tips of your own you want to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.