How are you feeling about your progress on your fitness and weight loss goals?
If you're not getting the results you want, now is a great time to evaluate your strategy and make sure you're not skipping any resources that might move the needle and get you to your goals.
At LIVESTRONG.COM, we're committed to helping you live healthier and happier. In addition to thousands of expert articles and videos, we've created tracking tools, free mobile apps for iPhone and Android, 24/7 community forums and monthly contests to help you stay on track.
Make this your checklist!
1. Find Out How Many Calories You Should Be Eating, and Keep Track.
Use MyPlate and download the free mobile app for iPhone and Android to find out how many calories you should be eating each day to hit your goal weight. MyPlate is free, and it has helped LIVESTRONG.COM users to collectively lose hundreds of thousands of pounds! Using MyPlate will help educate you about what you're eating and it will help you stay accountable and on track.
To succeed at this simply, track what you eat, and be honest.
We have free MyPlate apps for iPhone and Android with a barcode scanner to scan and get calorie and nutrition info quickly for foods you are eating. You can also now use MyPlate on your tablet such as iPad and Kindle Fire as well.
2. Aim to Work Out 6 Days Per Week.
To see dramatic fitness and body changes, plan to work out six days per week at high intensity. To make this easier, we've created free workouts in the app, and the 8-Week STRONGER Challenge Facebook Group. If the STRONGER program is too intense for you right now, try doing our other LIVESTRONG.COM workout videos led by Tara Stiles, Cassey Ho and/or Ashley Borden.
Block off 30-45 minutes each day in your calendar for working out. Treat your workouts as you would any other serious appointment and try your best not to skip them. Afterward, track your exercise in the Workouts tab in MyPlate to see an estimate of how many calories you burned.
3. Write Down Your Goal(s). Be Specific.
As I learned when I was in a Beachbody test group in 2012 where I lost 20 pounds in 2 months, the first thing to do is set a goal for yourself, and actually write it down on an index card, on a Post-It note or somewhere else so that you can stick it on your bathroom mirror or on the side of your computer screen. In MyPlate there is a place for you to record your goals in the Progress tab.
My goal was to lose 20 pounds in 60 days and to see muscle definition in my abs and arms. Also, I wanted to be fit enough to be able to run a half-marathon by the end of the program. Think of not only what your goal is, but why you want it.
I wrote down my goal on a Post-It note along with why I wanted to achieve it. I wrote, "1. I want to lose 20 pounds in 60 days so my clothes will fit me better and I'll have more energy. 2. I want to see muscle definition in my abs and arms. (Bikini!) 3. Run the Long Beach Half Marathon. (Achievement! Pride! Medals!)" I stuck it in the corner of my mirror so that I would see it each morning when I was getting ready for my day.
4. Spend a Minute a Day Visualizing Your Goal(s). What Will It Be Like to Achieve It/Them?
Take some time before you start your program to really visualize what it will be like when you achieve your goal. How will it feel? What will you look like?
Spend a minute or so each day thinking about your goal and reaffirming why it's important to you. If you're using the new version of MyPlate, there is a place in the Progress tab for you to upload a photo to help motivate and inspire you when you see it each day.
5. Take Your ‘Before’ Photos. Seriously, Take Them.
If you're not feeling like you're in the best shape right now, we understand that it may not feel great to take off your clothes and pose for the camera.
I certainly did not love taking my "Before" photos, but they did help to motivate me to work harder and push myself to lose weight. Plus, afterward, the "Before" and "After" photos served to visually tell the story of my fitness achievement.
Without pictures, it may not be as apparent how much of a difference losing weight, toning up and gaining muscle can make to your appearance.
Even if you only aim to lose 5 or 10 pounds, love handles will disappear as well as any stomach "pooch." Sometimes photos will show more impact than the number on the scale!
We understand that you may NOT want to smile in your "Before" pics. (I didn't smile in mine!) You may not feel happy with how you look. The "Before" photos can be a wake-up call that you are unhappy with what you see.
Also, remember that you don't need to show your "Before" photos to anyone. You can keep them just for yourself.
For men, take the photos wearing shorts or a swimsuit without a shirt on. For women, take the photos in a bikini or tight gym shorts and a sports bra. It's important to see your stomach, and be sure not to suck it in! You will likely see your most pronounced changes in the stomach area.
Here's a video with more tips:
6. Record Your Measurements and Weight Today!
Sometimes you will lose inches from your waist and legs before you lose many (or any) pounds on the scale. Just grab a tape measure. Write them down and write down the date as well. You should take your measurements again after 15 days have passed. And then, measure yourself again on day 30 and day 60. Write it all down and/or record it online on LIVESTRONG.COM.
In MyPlate, there is a place on the Progress tab where you can input your measurements and then view progress charts as they change over time when you update them every 15 days.
Here's a video with more info on how to take your measurements:
7. Get Motivated By Contests, the Chance to Win Money, and Other People’s Weight Loss Successes.
If you're motivated by contests, (friendly) competition, and the chance to win money, then it's even more important to take your "Before" photos. See the "Before" and "After" photos of some LIVESTRONG.COM members who have been our biggest success stories. If you take your "Before" photos, perhaps it will motivate you to lose weight so you can enter our monthly "Before" and "After" contest for a chance to win $250.
8. Stay Up-to-Date On the Latest Healthy Eating and Fitness Info.
Bookmark the LIVESTRONG.COM homepage so you can stay up-to-date on the latest advice from experts in the field of health and fitness. Subscribe to the LIVESTRONG.COM newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
9. Lean on Workout and Weight Loss Buddies for Support and Motivation and to Get Answers to Your Questions.
I had some great workout buddies during my Beachbody fitness test group. Whenever we were feeling hungry, sore, grouchy, or having a hard time sticking to our diets, we emailed or stopped by each other's desks to commiserate.
If you don't have friends who are committed to fitness, you can always meet some buddies online in LIVESTRONG.COM's 24/7 online forums where you'll find thousands of honest, like-minded people offering advice, support and answers to all of your health and fitness questions.
How to meet people? You can go in and introduce yourself. You can add buddies of people who are active in the community, such as David Mugavero and Ashley Donahoo (who lost over 100 pounds using MyPlate to track her calories).
10. ‘Pre-Track’ Your Food in MyPlate.
Go into MyPlate and track your breakfast mid-morning, and then "pre-track" what you will eat for lunch and dinner. I tend to track what I've eaten for breakfast in MyPlate in the mid-morning, and then I "pre-track" by entering what I'm planning to eat for lunch and/or dinner (before I actually eat it) based around staying under my total calorie allotment for the day.
That way, I can how particular lunches and dinners affect my ability to stay within my calorie range for the day.
11. Join a Challenge Group.
Go ahead and push yourself to join a Challenge, such as the 30-Day Ab Challenge, the 30-Day Pushup Challenge or the 8-Week STRONGER Challenge group. You will get support, encouragement and motivation that will help you to stick with your workouts.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you trying to lose weight? Have you had much success? Have you tried any of these tips? What is working best for you? What are your biggest challenges? Leave a comment below and let us know.
About the Author
JESS BARRON is Editor-in-Chief and GM for LIVESTRONG.COM, a leading healthy lifestyle website with more than 32 million unique monthly viewers. In addition to LIVESTRONG, her writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune and MyDomaine. She has been interviewed about her advice for female entrepreneurs by Inc., HuffingtonPost and FabFitFun. Jess has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and ABC News and has been a keynote speaker at Health Further and a panelist at SXSW, Create & Cultivate and Digital Hollywood. Follow Jess on Instagram and Twitter at @jessbeegood!