It’s important to set reasonable and attainable goals before you start your weight loss journey and to realize healthy weight loss is an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits. It’s not just about fast weight loss diet plans or programs. It takes time, commitment, and planning.
Identify Your “Why”
First and foremost, identify your “why”. Something must have inspired you to start your weight loss journey so the key to staying motivated is to identify exactly what that reason is, why it is, and how to remind yourself along the way. The more introspective and detailed you can be, the more powerful your motivation will be. You may even choose to write it down and keep it handy for those tougher times when you need a positive reminder and extra push.
Set short-Term, Achievable Goals
A goal is necessary in order to have something you’re working toward. Now that does not mean you need to set a weight goal. It could be that you want to fit into a particular outfit, lose a certain number of inches, or to feel healthy with more energy – it’s not always about the number on the scale. Setting short-term weight loss goals keeps you focused on your progress and gives you a platform on which to build.
Create a Plan of Action
Decide which diet or exercise program best fits with your goals and lifestyle. Remember that the best diet plans for weight loss are not the quick-fix programs or fad diets that claim to help you shed pounds fast. These are not designed to be maintained long term. Losing weight is not complicated but it takes serious effort. In short, weight loss is a matter of burning more calories than you take in. With this in mind, do not skip meals! You may consider eating a lighter dinner or have your main meal earlier in the day. Make sure to include enough protein, fruit and veggies. We will dive deeper into the best foods to eat and most effective exercises in another section.
Focus on Process Goals
Along with setting your short-term goals, it’s also important that you focus on process goals to achieve your desired weight loss outcome. Process goals help you focus on changing behaviors and habits that are necessary for losing weight. For example, drinking water at every meal instead of soda, eating five servings of fruits or vegetables a day, or cutting out that late night snack. Saying you want to exercise more is a great goal but it’s not specific or measurable. Set a goal to walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days each week or start at 3 days a week if that’s more doable. While keeping your long-term weight loss goals in mind, these steps keep you motivated and accountable along the way.
Allow for Setbacks
Setbacks are normal so it’s best to expect them and identify a plan for dealing with them. For example, a big holiday meal with the family or an office party – brainstorm specific strategies to overcome them to stay on course or get back on course. Avoid the “all or nothing” approach because if your diet is so restrictive that you can’t enjoy your eating, your weight loss goals will be too difficult to keep and this may throw you off track completely. Weight loss is a process so it’s normal to give in to temptation once in a while. Don’t be discouraged because beating yourself down over shortcomings will hurt your self-confidence and increase anxiety levels which in turn may slow your metabolism or trigger cravings for junk food.
Work Toward Your Goal Step by Step
Weight loss is a process. It’s not an overnight fix. Don’t try to change your entire routine the first day or set goals you’re bound to break. Create a reasonable plan that complements your existing schedule and lifestyle. You may need to reassess or adjust your goals as you go along and that’s perfectly acceptable.
You may decide to join a group that shares your goals or have a weight loss buddy. This is an extra source of support, understanding and accountability to aid you in your journey.
Losing weight is challenging so why not reward yourself as you achieve your short-term weight loss goals along the way. This doesn’t mean with drinks or a high calorie dinner, but with non-food rewards to reinforce your new habits and inspire you to continue on your journey. This could be anything from buying a new outfit to taking a nap to taking a vacation. There are endless ways to reward yourself and these tangible milestone celebrations will keep you motivated.
Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to!