There are five simple steps you need to take before tackling any weight loss challenge.
STEP 1: COMMITMENT
Weight loss is a major commitment---the success of any weight loss program depends on the amount of time and energy you dedicate to the process.
How do you know if you are ready to commit?
Answer the following questions:
- Do you really want to lose weight?
- Are you willing to set aside excuses, and reverse all of your bad habits?
- Are you willing to push yourself, and step outside of your comfort zone?
- Are you willing to make sacrifices or tough choices that may get in the way of socializing?
- Are you willing to transform your daily routine to fit the new you?
- Are you willing to hold yourself accountable?
If you replied yes to all of the above questions, then you are ready to tackle the next steps.
STEP 2: DIAGNOSIS
The diagnosis stage helps you identify a starting point so that you can design a healthy and feasible plan based on where you are now, and where you want to be later.
Tip: Online calorie calculators are a great place to begin your diagnosis. Most online calorie counters measure your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), and then factor in your activity level to calculate the calories your body needs for maintenance and for fat loss.
STEP 3: GOAL SETTING
Establishing a strong set of achievable goals is crucial to weight loss. Not only do goals keep you on track, but they also keep you accountable for your actions.
Begin with a general goal such as, “I want to lose 30lbs in five months,” then work backward and set benchmarks, or smaller goals, that will depict your progress.
Let’s say you will follow a strict diet and hit the gym 5-6 times a week. Based on this commitment, you plan to drop 10lbs the first month, 5lbs the second month, 5lbs more the third month, and so forth… According to these smaller goals, you are on par to reach your target weight in 5 months. That is realistic goal setting.
STEP 4: EDUCATION
You’ve established your goals—now it’s time to research training and diet plans that will help you achieve those goals. The Internet is filled with information and resources that will guide you--just dig deep and make sure the plan you choose is in line with what you hope to accomplish.
Tip: In my experience, I've found that one of the best approaches to monitoring calorie intake is to track macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat).
Not all calories are created equal; protein, carbohydrates, and fats have different calories per gram. Protein has 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, and fat has 9 calories per gram. Based on your dietary needs and weight loss goals, you can create a personalized meal plan around these numbers.
*There are many ways to divide your macros, but if you are starting out, I suggest dividing them evenly (33%) for a more balanced diet.
STEP 5: PLAN OF ATTACK
You determined your calorie needs, set your goals, and formed the foundation for your diet.
The next step is to develop a plan of attack for your diet and your workouts.
Nutrition: If you want to lose weight, you must reduce your calorie intake below maintenance level. This means you will have to cut approx. 200-300 calories for small weight loss, and approx. 400-500 for substantial weight loss.
Divide the number of calories you will cut, by the number of meals you plan to eat throughout the day so you do not cut too many calories at once. I suggest you plan for 5-8 meals a day, including snacks and pre/post workout meals.
Workouts: I cannot stress enough that you should approach every workout routine with a plan. If you are completely new to working out, read educational materials to learn proper exercises and techniques, or hire a personal trainer to show you the ins and outs.
Once you have all the information, write it down, and bring it with you to the gym. Before each workout, outline what muscle groups you will train, which exercises you will perform, set/rep ranges, and the time you will spend doing cardio. That is having a plan. Nothing halts progress more than wasted time—plan ahead and you will see results!
Now that you’ve committed to weight loss, identified your needs, established your goals, educated yourself and formed a plan of attack, it’s time to get moving!
Remember weight loss is a journey, and with the right tools and positive mindset, you are capable of creating a completely new you.