Yesterday, I shared my personal story with losing weight. This post highlights a few important ideas that I think are helpful for anyone who is trying to lose weight. Before I tell you my thoughts, I want to reiterate that I am NOT a doctor. You should speak with a medical professional before beginning any weight loss program.
Losing weight is a real need in our country. Over 70% of the adult US population is overweight or obese. And if you really want to feel heartbroken, click here to read some stats on childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is particularly unsettling for me. Those darling children are starting their lives at a terrible disadvantage with the odds stacked against their health.
Obesity is a crisis for our country on multiple levels, and we could probably go on all day about the causes behind the epidemic. Instead of focusing on why we have a weight problem, today I’m going to focus on ideas to help you succeed in losing weight on a personal level.
First things first – Healthy eating is NOT about getting skinny!
I know, I know! The last post was all about how I lost 20 pounds in three months last year, and this post is about losing weight. However, I honestly believe the outward effects of losing weight are overshadowed by the inner effects.
When you focus on losing weight for your appearance, you are focusing on the outside first. However, if you focus on increasing your health, your energy, and your strength, you will feel good from the INSIDE out! Extra weight will come off as you get healthier, and all the while you will be feeling SO good from the INSIDE.
Taking charge of your health will empower you and increase your self-confidence. In turn, this helps you create and maintain lifestyle changes that keep you feeling great. It’s a positive cycle!
Set goals for yourself & set up a system to track your goals for accountability.
It’s imperative to set goals because they give you something to work towards and something to focus on. Make your goal an action-oriented goal that will help you lose weight, rather than simply a goal of losing a certain amount weight.
SO MANY FACTORS go into how quickly you lose weight. The last thing you want is to feel disappointed in yourself because you didn’t lose as much weight as your self-imposed goal. A step forward is a step forward, no matter how small.
Write down your goals. Say them aloud to yourself. Tell your best friend, your partner, or your confidant. These are your own personal goals. You are making a commitment to yourself here.
Post your goals in a conspicuous place so that you will see them often. Seeing your goals serves as a visual cue, bringing back your focus to them multiple times a day. The more you think of your goals, the more likely you are to keep working toward them.
In addition to setting your goals, you also need to determine a method to track your goals as well. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. If you are using old-fashioned paper and pen to track progress, then post your paper near your goals. If you are using a spreadsheet on your computer, set a reminder on your phone of when you should be noting your progress (hourly, daily, weekly?) so you won’t forget. Tracking your progress allows you to visually see progression towards your goals. Visual cues are a huge motivator to continue working towards your goals.
Focus on what you put in your body.
Focus on what you can have rather than what you can’t. Try to choose whole foods over processed foods for each meal. When you start to fuel your body with foods that help it thrive, then you will feel better. If eating all whole foods is overwhelming at first, focus on just one meal at a time. Small victories lead to great successes!
You also want to make sure to fill your body with foods you ENJOY eating! Please don’t start eating plain chicken and steamed vegetables for every meal and expect to be able to maintain that as a lifestyle.
Experiment with different ways of preparing vegetables and meats until you discover a way that you love. Practice new skills in the kitchen, and learn to make delicious healthy meals.
Learn about and try healthy substitutions. Spiralized veggies or spaghetti squash are good substitutions for pasta. Instead of all mayonnaise in your tuna salad, try half mayo/half Greek yogurt or even mashed avocado. There are so many awesome healthy substitutions – have fun trying them all until you find ones you enjoy!
Keep a food journal in some form. You can use an app, an excel doc, or even old-fashioned pen and paper. Writing down what you are eating shows you where you can improve nutritionally. Measure your portions to ensure you aren’t accidentally overeating.
Move it, move it!
Again, I’m focused on healthy eating this month, but it’s nearly impossible to chat about weight loss without mentioning exercise. The biggest point to make is to just get moving!
Start small. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot do as much as you’d like. Your body is designed for physical activity. It will absolutely amaze you how quickly your endurance, stamina, and strength can increase. The first week, you will be winded. The next week, you will start to breathe easier. After a month, you’ll be doing more than you thought physically possible at the beginning. I cannot encourage you enough to make working out a priority.
Join a gym, find a class, buy a fitness DVD, find a workout online – just keep trying new things until you find something you love and that works for you. Loving your fitness routine is essential to keep you going! It’s so much easier to keep working out when you look forward to your workouts!
Make it routine and plan, plan, plan!
I cannot emphasize planning enough. A plan gives you the framework for succeeding. Even if you don’t stick to your plan perfectly, you’ll move closer towards your goal than if you didn’t have a plan at all. Plan your meals, plan your workouts, plan for bumps in the road. Think about what you are doing and whether it is getting you closer to where you want to be. Be sure to adjust your plans as you learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
Don’t feel locked into a certain way of doing things just because that was what worked at first. Do what works for you today and make adjustments for tomorrow.
Creating routines can take the guesswork out of what you need to do to stick to your health goals. Create a routine for menu planning and for how you prepare meals. Start a routine for exercising. Create a routine for things to do when you feel bored and start eyeing the snack drawer.
Create a support and accountability system
Find a like-minded group. You will be more likely to succeed in making lasting changes to your habits. You will lose weight naturally and sustainably by making long-lasting changes. It’s a beautiful thing when people come together to help one another make positive changes.
Find accountability and support with a personal trainer at the gym, a friend or family member at home, or even a web site. There’s no reason to do this alone on your own. Find someone else who can help keep you on the right track when you are struggling.
Give yourself grace.
Embrace and love yourself at every step of your journey. You won’t be able to do everything all at once. And that is okay. Give yourself a little grace while you figure out what works best for you.
You will have setbacks. Think of setbacks as opportunities to learn. Examine the situation and yourself and try to figure out why you had a setback. Learn from it, and make a plan to deter similar setbacks in the future. Then move forward.
Each time you get back up and move forward, you are practicing how to fail yet move ahead. It gets easier the more you do it. And you’ll continue to make progress toward your goals rather than giving up. Persistence is crucial in more than just healthy eating!
Making your health a priority is not an easy task as you probably already know. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against our health:
- Food is abundantly available at all times.
- Sugar is added to almost everything, causing you to crave more.
- Learning how to prepare nutritious food takes time, which is often scarce in our fast-paced lives.
- Buying fruits, vegetables, and meats is often more expensive than buying processed foods.
Making your health a priority requires dedication and effort in our world today. That being said, remember you can only do what you can do. Be kind to yourself and feel good about whatever steps you are taking towards a healthier lifestyle. A step forward is a step forward no matter how small.