Five Steps to Starting a Successful Weight-Loss PlanPosted: January 17, 2020 in Lifestyle by Craig Primack MD FACP
Turn on the television, surf the internet, or spend a few minutes on your favorite app and you’re bound to see many weight-loss plans and programs that promise to make you skinny, attractive, and glowing with health. Every year you find more and more shelves full of new books promoting “fad” diets based on anything from whole-food plant-based meals to no-carb diets to whatever other fad is popular at the time. Most of these options offer a “magical” solution.
Fad Diet Red Flags
- They ask you to take a particular supplement.
- They ask you to do something that is not based on science.
- They are administered by a non-medical person who is not trained in weight loss.
- They require you to sign up for weekly training sessions with a contract that can’t be broken.
- They reinforce the idea that weight loss is something you need someone else to control for you.
Emotions and Weight Loss
Negative emotions that often accompany the decision to try to lose weight include:
- Guilt or shame over “letting it get this far.”
- Anxiety over how you will cope with new and often impossible dietary restrictions.
- Fear of failure.
You become convinced that you need an outside “magician” to control your weight loss which can make you feel inadequate and incredibly disempowered. You keep searching for the next best diet plan.
There’s Another Way
You can choose to take charge of your weight-loss plan by harnessing your power to make the changes you want to make while under the care of a trained medical professional. Consider your motivations, focus on your strengths, educate yourself, choose fun ways to get active, and build routines that work for you, your family, and lifestyle. You CAN start from a position of strength and positivity, and set yourself up for success. Here’s how to get started:
1. Know YOUR Motivations
The most successful weight-loss journey begins with strong personal motivation. Focus on things that are truly meaningful to you as an individual. Ask yourself: What would I love to do that’s difficult or impossible because of my weight? Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to explain your motivations to anyone if you don’t want to. Being genuine will pay off in the long run. Write a list of three or more things that genuinely motivate you to want to lose weight. Here are some examples:
- Run a marathon or a 5k
- Look better for your child’s wedding
- Fit into your favorite pair of jeans
- Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes that runs in your family
Next Steps: Place the list somewhere you’ll see it regularly, or find other ways to remind yourself of why you’re putting into work. For example, you could set your computer desktop image to a picture of a mountain, to remind yourself of your hiking dreams.
2. Focus on Your Strengths
Don’t fall into the trap of considering yourself a failure because you carry a few extra pounds. You already have a range of habits, personal preferences, tools, and skills that will help you to succeed once you take the time to recognize them. Some things you might like to consider include:
- Will any of your favorite foods fit into a healthy eating plan? For example, if you love fresh fruit, especially berries, you already have an excellent option for nutritious snacks and desserts.
- Do you enjoy cooking? Think of all the new recipes you’ll be able to try, and how satisfying it will be to use your skills to create meals that support your goals.
- What habits do you have that will strengthen your weight-loss plan? Things like drinking lots of freshwater, getting plenty of sleep, only buying things you’ve written on your shopping list, or regularly participating in a fun exercise class or walks with friends.
- What are you good at? Are you good at making plans and setting achievable goals? Establishing new habits? Doing thorough research? Rewarding yourself for making progress? Forgiving yourself and bouncing back from mistakes? All of these can be helpful as you seek to lose weight.
- Do you have reliable support you can call on when you need them? Have you used a medical professional and weight loss team before?
- Can you name times in the past when you have successfully changed your habits? Such as undergoing a digital detox, quitting smoking, or learning how to work efficiently from home.
Next Steps: Write a list of your strengths, and how each of them will help you in your weight-loss journey. Include everything, no matter how small it seems. Remember: you already have many of the tools you need to succeed.
3. Find Trustworthy Medical Nutritional Information
Many fad diets ignore well-established nutritional guidelines and make health claims not supported or accepted by reputable and studied medical professionals. To avoid the pitfalls of fad diets, don’t think of a short-term plan that will help you shed pounds.
Instead, aim to find a way of eating which is nutritious, appealing to your tastes, and sustainable over the long-term. Protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber as well as vitamins are part of a healthy weight loss diet. Before you can make any such plans, it’s essential that you understand what excellent nutrition and meal planning look like so that you can make informed choices.
Next Steps: Educate yourself on excellent nutrition, and make a pact with yourself to steer well clear of “fad” diets. Reliable sources of dietary information include your doctor, a nurse practitioner, a dietitian, and guidelines issued by the Obesity Medical Association.
4. Find Your Fun
If your job involves sitting at a desk or computer most of the day, find ways to get more active. It will help you to kick-start (and maintain) your weight loss. The activities you choose may seem insignificant, but if you’re moving more and more as time progresses, you’re on the right track. Take it slowly and find something you’re passionate about.
You may have tried in the past to improve your fitness by going to aerobics classes or signing up for a gym membership. These are fantastic options — for some people, but perhaps not for you. The best activity is the one you enjoy and see yourself doing regularly.
Next Steps: Brainstorm fun ways to get active, then choose one to get started on today. It could be something as simple as dancing to your favorite song, or as ambitious as signing up for a yoga class. The most important thing is to get started. Remember, even the person who can run a mile or more, didn’t start that way. Start with 10 minutes of exercise and build up from there.
5. Establish a Good Routine
Routines are enormously helpful because they reduce the number of times in a day when you have to make a decision or exercise willpower. It takes a few weeks to get a new routine solidly established, but once it’s in place, your life will become more manageable and healthier. If you are tech-minded, there are a variety of apps available to help track your progress toward establishing new habits.
Think about your current eating habits, for example, snacking on chips while you watch a movie. Identify what aspect of this habit is working for you (it’s fun to snack) and what is not (the calories go straight to my waistline). Look for ways to incorporate the good aspects while eliminating the bad (snack on popcorn or raw veggies), and plan how you can make this a new habit.
Next Steps: Choose one new routine to help you develop healthier habits. Think about what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, what you’ll need, and what the benefits will be. Take the time to establish this new routine until it feels normal and natural before moving on to something else.
Get Started on Your Weight Loss Journey
Your weight-loss journey is yours, and yours alone. Once the decision is made, employ other people (especially medical professionals like physicians and nurse practitioners to assist you. They will provide accurate nutritional information, support, or practical help. That might seem frightening at first, but it makes it so much easier and ensures success. You are in charge, but you are not alone.
It will be your motivations, your strengths, your decisions, your passion, and your daily habits that lead you to success, with a bit of help from your medical professionals to back up their recommendations with scientific tools proven to help in weight loss.
Don’t let fear and anxiety prevent you from reaching your goals. Get inspired, get informed, get professional help, and get started — today.
Read our FREE e-book Chasing Diets and learn about the weight loss program that works.