4 Steps to Help You Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals
Do you want to make changes in your diet? Maybe you’re like Sarah. Sarah has decided that she is going to start a diet. On Sunday afternoon, she goes to the store and buys a food scale, healthy cookbooks, and a new blender. She raids her fridge and pantry, getting rid of all her junk food and anything in a package. She weighs in and starts a log to record her weight each day. Monday morning, she gets up 30 minutes early to make oatmeal for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and comes home to cook a dinner of chicken and broccoli. Despite her preparations and good intentions, by the end of day three, she is exhausted, frustrated, and hungry.
Sarah, like many of us, dove right into a huge change without setting up a plan of action. Whether you want to lose 5 lbs. or 30 lbs., you need to take the proper steps to set yourself up for success when it comes to losing weight and leading a healthier eating lifestyle.
STEP 1: WHY?
Before you begin a diet, think about why you want to lose weight. How will your life change once the weight is off? Articulating your goals allows you to determine how serious you really are about making a change, and if you are truly doing it for yourself. If losing weight is not that important to you, you won’t make the changes you need to succeed.
STEP 2: HOW?
If you have determined that weight loss is important to you, your next step is to make a plan to lose the weight. This should include every aspect of the diet process: What should you eat, and how much? Do you need to change your schedule to include meal prep time, or look into a professional service to help you? Who will support you in your journey? What derailments could get in your way, and how will you overcome them?
Typically, one of the biggest obstacles in starting a diet is knowing how much to eat. You may want to take a metabolic rate test to tell you how many calories you burn at rest, which will give you an idea of the range of calories you can eat on a daily basis.
Knowing what to eat can be confusing, as well. A dietitian or a fitness professional certified to administer meal plans can help you determine how many macronutrients (a fancy word for fats, carbohydrates, and protein) you should be eating daily, and the best food choices for you. This is especially helpful if you have any diet restrictions, such as gluten, or if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
Once you’ve decided what your diet should look like, log your meals so that you can remain aware of what, and how much, you are actually eating.
STEP 3: WHEN?
Taking the time to map out when you will cook and eat is extremely important. Time is precious, and most of us wish we had more of it! Setting aside some time to prepare your meals each week is just as important as setting time aside to take a shower or brush your teeth. Try spending a few hours on the weekend and another hour or two during the week to shop and cook a couple of meals ahead of time. You can even measure your meals and store them in containers to grab and go during the week! If you are short on time, consider using a meal prep service, but make sure to review the dietary information so that the meals align with your desired caloric intake and macronutrient numbers.
STEP 4: BE PATIENT
The last and most important step is to stick with it! As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” You’ll need to give your body time to acclimate to the new diet and allow change to occur. The first couple of weeks are typically the toughest. Taking the time to review your goals and plans to keep yourself on track will be crucial during that time.
Making changes in your diet is not easy, but if living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight is really important to you, creating a plan and sticking to it is key to your success. And once you start seeing the results of your effort, you won’t want to go back!