You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle change. In order for you to succeed on your weight loss journey, you must first accept that results will not be immediate. This means that the scale will not dip just because you had a salad for lunch, and that’s okay. Follow these tips on how to start a weight loss plan and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Set Your SMART Goals
Beginning with your end goals is very important because you need to know where you are ultimately trying to go. Planning to get an overall “healthier lifestyle” is fantastic, but you need to be a little more specific. Do you want to lose weight? Tone up? Get stronger? Once you figure out what your basic fitness goals are, add a measurable, numerical value to that goal. Saying that you want to lose weight isn’t enough. Select a realistic goal, such as losing 10 pounds, and plan on losing 2 pounds a week for 5 weeks. Breaking your goal down into smaller, more attainable pieces (like losing 2 pounds per week) will make accomplishing your goals seem easier.
Tracking Your Baseline
You can’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started. While it’s a good idea to know the number on the scale or the circumference of your waist, obsessing over those numbers can lead to disappointment when those numbers don’t change as quickly as you’d like. A great way to track progress, without obsessing over numbers, is to pay attention to how your clothing fits. Are you now able to button your skinny pants? That’s progress even if your scale isn’t cooperating!
How Many Calories Should You Eat?
Before you begin any weight loss or diet plan, it’s important to consult your doctor and get his or her approval on a diet and exercise plan. Ask your doctor how many calories you should consume every day, and stick to that. Tracking calories is not the be-all end-all of a weight loss plan, but it certainly helps when you first start off.
There are plenty of calculators and apps that can also suggest how many calories you should be eating based on your gender, age, activity level, and fitness goals. (We love MyFitnessPal and Fooducate.) If you don’t feel comfortable tracking everything you eat, simply be mindful of how much you put on your plate and the amount of times you eat per day.
Developing a Meal Plan
Once you’ve figured out how many calories to eat per day, you get to decide what those calories consist of. If you’re serious about losing weight in the long term, we suggest avoiding special diets unless you have a specific personal belief or food allergy. Remember, the more complex a diet is, the more difficult it will be to follow when you’re busy, stressed, or have a million errands to run.
Is Butter a Carb?
Carbs are not the enemy. Neither is fat. They give you energy. Steer clear of diet and low-fat processed products and replace them with whole fruits and vegetables. Every person is different, but in general, a diet whose calories consist of 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat is well-balanced. Are you busy during the week with school, work, or other activities? Try making Sundays your meal prep day to cut down on cooking time during the week and avoid the need to “run out and grab something.”
Developing a Workout Plan
If you’re not quite ready to commit to a workout plan, you can still begin a weight loss plan by cleaning up your diet first. Surprisingly, what you eat has a much higher effect on your weight loss than the occasional trip to the gym. If you’re ready to hit the gym, don’t go full-force just yet. Your body will need baby steps to avoid getting injured with the sudden increase of physical activity. Try getting to the gym 2 to 3 times a week at first. Even though you may be tempted to do mostly cardio at the gym, which is great for burning calories immediately, don’t neglect strength training. Strength training adds muscle, which helps your body burn more calories at rest.
Need some motivation? Try a group fitness class to meet other people on their weight loss journeys. Group Ex classes are also a great to try new types of exercise. Not sure where to begin on the gym floor? Boost Fitness offers all members a complimentary personal training session to help them get started.