Have you ever tried to lose weight and failed? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1/3 of the adult population in the U.S. is obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher—and those numbers continue to rise each year. This puts anyone who’s trying to lose weight at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions that are linked to obesity, so it’s important to choose your approach carefully in order to avoid these potential complications…
Step 1: List your motivations
Making a weight loss plan is a lot easier when you know why you’re doing it. Are you motivated by being healthier? Looking better? Saving money on healthcare costs in your future? Whatever your reasons, write them down and consider how strong they are. If your top motivator is making your doctor happy, that’s great—but if having pizza once a week for dinner will make you happier, do that instead. No matter what weight loss plan works for you, motivation is key to sticking with it long-term. Having a clear reason to change will help guide every other step in your weight loss plan. Next, think about what type of diet or exercise program will best suit your lifestyle. If you hate cooking but enjoy watching TV at night, meal prepping might not be the best option for you. Likewise, if you love exercising but have no free time during the day to leave the house, maybe picking up a part-time job at the gym would be a good idea! But whatever type of diet or exercise program suits your needs best, don’t forget to include tracking calories as well!
Step 2: Set goals
The first step in any weight loss plan is to set your goals. Before you get started, take a few minutes to figure out exactly what you want to achieve and why. Write down your goal, along with its importance and relevance. Will achieving it make a difference in your life? Is it specific enough so that you can tell if progress has been made? As far as our health is concerned, we should always strive for long-term goals—these can be related to weight, cholesterol level or blood pressure.
Step 3: Set up a schedule
Now that you know what you’re going to eat every day, it’s time to figure out when you’re going to eat it. Try sticking to a routine schedule as much as possible and set an alarm on your phone a few hours ahead of time if that helps. The point is not so much that you have a completely empty stomach before each meal, but just getting into regular mealtime habits will help normalize your body and reduce cravings. While hunger pangs don’t tell us what to eat, they do tell us something is wrong—usually that we haven’t eaten in too long or we aren’t eating enough food or our diet isn’t balanced enough.
Step 4: Choose your diet plan and follow it
The main goal of a diet plan is to help you lose weight and keep it off. But choosing a diet can be difficult because there are so many options, such as weight watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach Diet etc. Some diets are more effective than others for helping you maintain long-term weight loss. Choose one that fits your lifestyle, budget and nutritional preferences. While no single diet has been proven to work better than any other in regards to sustainable weight loss, according to physician assistant Jessica Levinson of Keck Medicine at USC most data suggests that low-carb diets are probably better than low-fat diets when trying to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Step 5: Track your progress
It’s important to track your progress to be sure that your new habits are actually working. Without measuring, it’s possible to lose a few pounds but not change your eating and exercise behaviors in any meaningful way. Weigh yourself and keep track of what you’re eating at least once a week. Write down how much you’ve exercised, or save apps such as Fitbit for iPhone or Lose It! for Android on your phone so that you can see how many steps you take each day, how many calories you burn, etc. Seeing visual cues will motivate you to stick with it! Don’t start skipping meals if you don’t want to—just eat less throughout your day instead.
Step 6: Get motivated!
The best way to get motivated is to understand that you are not going to be able to achieve your goals overnight. Be mindful of how long it takes other people like you in achieving their weight loss goals, and then make a plan for yourself. Use your journal to give yourself updates on your progress and what you have done right. This will help increase motivation and self-esteem, which is a huge part of losing weight and keeping it off for good. Motivation comes from within, so start now!