Whether you’ve recently gained a few pounds or over time you have managed to gain a lot, many of us are faced with the dreadful thought that we need to lose some weight. For some of us this may be easier said than done. Success in weight loss starts from the very beginning. To avoid the dreaded yo-yo effect, or worse, giving up a few weeks in, there are some steps that are essential to getting your weight loss off to a great start and keeping it that way.
Figure out why you want to lose weight
Those who have determined that they want to lose weight for themselves (not for their husband or wife, parents, kids, job, etc.) have been proven to be more successful in their weight loss journey. Also, finding another reason to lose weight (general health, lower your cholesterol) other than the number on the scale drastically increases your chances of sticking with it during the tough times.
Research your body type
Many people see a famous person with an admirable body and that is what they wish for themselves. Unfortunately we are not all made the same, and a body that may be attainable for one person may be unattainable for someone else; regardless of how determined they are to obtain it. What is considered a “healthy weight” also varies from person to person depending on their body type. Having a realistic vision of yourself at a lower weight will help maintain the motivation that is so greatly needed in this process.
Take measurements (and pictures if you are comfortable)
Keeping track of body measurements is often found to be a much more useful tool when tracking weight loss. You may have heard it before, but one pound of fat takes up much more space than one pound of muscle. When the scale doesn’t budge taking your measurements may help you see why and motivate you tough times when the scale doesn’t move.
Another useful measurement is body fat percentage. This can be done by using an online calculator using specific body measurements and your weight, by the use of calipers, or even more advanced methods that are performed by a professional. Because of different body types, this method serves best for tracking weight loss, and most specifically, fat loss.
If you are already a member of a gym, or thinking of joining one find out if your gym offers free consultations. These consultations often include body measurements, body fat percentage testing, fit testing, and blood pressure. The gym can then take these measurements for you periodically to ensure that you have an accurate record of your progress.
Visit your doctor.
That disclaimer that is always seen before an at-home exercise video isn’t there as something for you to try and skip ahead of (and there is a reason your DVD player often won’t let you skip it). You should always consult a physician before starting a weight loss program, and there are a few reasons for this. First, your doctor may know about issues that could interfere with your weight loss that you might not know about. They may also know that there are some exercises that you shouldn’t perform given your current physical state.
Aside from any possible physical restrictions, your doctor may also help tailor a program that is best suited for you. If you are diabetic or have a hormone imbalance a general nutrition and exercise program may not be for you. Your doctor may also help you set realistic and safe goals for you to achieve considering your state of health.
It is also good to have your doctor order some tests that may directly be affected by a healthier diet and exercise and also serve as a good method to determine your progress towards a better state of health. These tests include total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood glucose.
Set a goal
Goal setting is important when taking on any challenge. Goals keep you focused and motivated. It is very important to set very realistic goals based on what has been mentioned in this article so far. A good tip is to set one or two large goals that you aim to as an end result, but also keep smaller goals to keep you interested and motivated along the way. An example of this would be an individual who wishes to lose 50 lbs in the next 12 months. They may set an initial goal of 15 lbs lost in the next 3 months. Achieving the smaller goal in less time is easier than waiting the entire year to get any satisfaction for meeting your goal.
While cutting out chips or pop is a good start, there is much more to a healthy diet. Do some internet research, or even better, contact a local dietitian who can go over your goals, tailor a nutrition guide and suggest healthy recipes.
If a dietitian is not someone you can contact at the moment, many countries have established healthy eating guides as a suggestion for their citizens. Refer to this guide to get a general sense of what a balanced diet may be.
Find an exercise program that you love
Aside from proper nutrition (and consulting your doctor of course) this may be the most important aspect of trying to lose weight. Exercise plays an enormous roll in the success of a weight loss program. This is why it is very important to find an activity that you like, or even love. If you even have a remote interest in an activity it is best to go ahead and try it out. Finding an activity that interests you and that doesn’t entirely feel like exercise can take some time and a lot of experimentation, but once you find that one activity that you don’t mind doing a few times a week, they payoff is well worth the work!
Lastly, take small steps.
When it comes to nutrition and exercise it is important to take small steps, especially if you have never cleaned up your eating or exercised before. Often people jump head first into a nutrition program or exercise regimen trying to do everything perfect to a “T” and they become overwhelmed and this usually results in failure. The program comes to a halt and the individual goes back to their previous lifestyle. Whatever activity you decide to try (make sure it corresponds with your fitness level!), try to do it 1-3 times a week. Once this becomes habit (usually after a month) start adding on a day per week. Before you know it you will be working out 4-6 times a week and it won’t feel like a burden. The same goes for how much intensity or duration you devote to the activity. If you decide to walk around your neighborhood a few times a week in the morning, don’t take on 5 miles right away. Start with walking a few blocks, then every week adding another block. Eventually you may even feel like running a few blocks. Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race!
Once someone decides they need to lose weight it is rarely an easy task to take on. For someone new to weight loss it can be overwhelming and daunting. Taking the proper steps from the beginning greatly increase your chance of success.