The first step to weight loss involves getting your mind and body ready for the long journey ahead. Safe and long-term weight maintenance requires a lifetime commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Start your new lifestyle by analyzing your habits and determining where you want your weight loss to take you.
Food and Exercise Diary
The very first step to losing weight involves determining what bad habits you have. Keeping a food and exercise diary can help you see your poor eating habits and track the amount of exercise you do each week. Write down everything you eat or drink throughout the day, including small bites taken while cooking. Your journal may help you identify emotional eating and other bad habits if you also write down how you felt when you ate, how full you were after eating, what you did during the meal and who you ate with. Continue keeping your journal throughout your weight loss to help you track progress and to remain accountable for your eating and exercise habits.
Goals help you plan your weight loss step by step as you transition into a healthier lifestyle. Plan to reach your goal weight slowly through small weekly changes to your diet and exercise routine. Analyze your food and exercise diary to determine areas you can change. Set realistic targets that promote gradual changes to your lifestyle. Make your goals achievable. For instance, make aim to lose 1 lb. each week by exercising 30 minutes each day and reducing your portion sizes to one serving. Goals that aim for things like losing 10 lb. in one week tend to undermine your weight loss attempts.
Major life distractions and emotional issues may interfere with your weight loss success. Common emotional barriers include marital stress, financial difficulties, illness, anxiety, depression, job stress and eating disorders. Try to eliminate emotional issues as part of your analysis of your weight loss readiness. Some issues, such as past eating disorders, anxiety and depression may need professional intervention.
Support provides the final part of the analysis phase prior to starting weight loss. Think about the people in your life that may help or hinder your weight loss attempts. Temptation and setbacks occur frequently during weight loss. Make sure you have someone you can turn to for support and encouragement. If no one in your life can fulfill this role, consider joining a support group for weight loss or find ways to keep your motivation high.
- ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal; Motivating Change: Modifying Eating and Exercise Behaviors for Weight Management; John Jakicic, Ph.D., et al.
- ACSM.org: Obesity and Exercise
- HelpGuide.org: Easy Tips for Planing a Healthy Diet and Sticking To It
- ACSM.org: Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss