Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln’s famous words carry the same message as the old proverb “He who is well prepared has half won the battle.”
You can win ‘half your weight loss battle’ by preparing for it the right way. The steps outlined here will help you to build a strong launching platform for your weight loss efforts.
The first step is to create the right mindset for your weight loss battle. Once you set your mind to do it the right way, then the next step is to calculate a realistic weight loss target and to make an execution plan for achieving it.
1. Set Realistic Weight Loss Targets
You have to set a weight loss goal to help you focus your time and efforts. You have to write it down. Many dieters start their weight loss resolutions with “no-win” resolutions that are destined to make them feel like failures.
“I will exercise every day from now on, rain or sun!”
“I will never eat sugary foods again!”
“I will lose 25 pounds in next 6 weeks!”
Learn to set goals that are sensible and attainable. A common mistake among weight loss aspirants is to set giant goals. You may need to lose 50 pounds or your aim is to be able to run 5 km a day. When success is seen only at the end of achieving this goal, it gets overwhelming and you just give up after some time. Break down your goal into smaller targets. Since 1.5 pounds a week is considered to be the healthy weight loss rate, you have to give yourself a minimum of 8 to 10 months for losing 50 pounds. Target losing 5-6 pounds a month and set up mini-goals of 2 pounds every 10 days. Achieving each mini goal will give you a sense of triumph and this will be a strong motivation to stick to your weight loss plans.
Do not add imperatives to your goals like “never,” “always,” “must,” etc. This implies demand and leaves you with no room for errors. Allow yourself to be human; when you insist on perfection you are setting up yourself for failure. Every time you are unable to stick to your rigid rules, you will feel frustrated and defeated.
2. Be Specific About Your Diet and Exercise Plans
Now that you have your main target and the mini goals written down, the next step is to work on the specifics of your goal. “I will follow a diet and I will exercise,” is too vague. Have a specific diet plan and an exercise routine. You can start off with small changes to your daily routine. Walk for 30 minutes after dinner or go for brisk morning walks of 20 minutes every day. Consider the plan a success if you are able to execute it for at least 5 days a week.
Your exercise routine should have a combination of aerobic workouts as well as weight training for building muscle and losing fat. Exercises with intervals of high and low-intensity workouts are most effective for calorie burning and weight loss. Your exercise plans should be clear about the type of workouts each day, as well as the duration or the repetition of each.
3. Create Food Lists and Meal Plans
Make a list of foods you can eat, like different types of vegetables, low-calorie fruits, lean protein, nuts, complex carbohydrates like brown rice, oats, potatoes, etc. Now make a second list of food you wish to avoid or cut down, like white bread, processed foods high in sodium or sugar, high-calorie fruits, fried or oily food, high-fat salad dressings and so on.
Trying to decide on what to eat after the hunger pangs strike will lead you to make unhealthy choices. You will probably reach for high-fat food options as the body is already low on energy and you will most likely end up overeating. To avoid unnecessary mental strain in your weight loss challenge, it is important to have a definite meal plan and to do as much preparation of each meal ahead of the time to eat it.
Create weekly menus and shop accordingly. Be prepared to handle food cravings, have some healthy low-calorie food on hand for snacking options. A handful of nuts is a great option. Rather than three large meals, make the menu for five or six short meals throughout the day. Be sure to include a palm-sized portion of lean protein, some veggies and a fist size of carbohydrate.
4. Track your Progress and Make Improvements
Maintaining a journal of your progress is very important. You have to keep a log of your diet and exercise activities along with regular weigh-ins. It holds you accountable and gives you the opportunity to revise your plans as you go along. If you are honest in recording every bit of weight loss related information, then you can easily identify patterns that are sabotaging your efforts. Writing down the various exercises you did each day and the exact number of repetitions will be a strong motivation to keep increasing their intensity and duration.
For your weight loss plans to succeed, you have to be able to incorporate the changes into your daily schedule. A plan on paper is one thing. Executing it is another matter altogether. You need to be optimistic about what is possible but expect setbacks. Don’t hesitate to adjust the original plan if any flaws in your plan get revealed as you proceed with the action of it.
5. Set Generous Rewards for Each Milestone
Acknowledge every small victory. They are the stepping stones to your final goal. It is advisable to set up non-food based rewards that make you feel good about yourself. For women, this can be new shoes, a dress, a perfume, a trip to some place special, a massage or a manicure.
For men, this can be anything from shaving off that beard you’ve been using to hide the double chin to buying a cool pair of running shoes or a sharp new suit. Men should actually experiment and indulge in the luxury of a pedicure. Manliest men who have tried it out- soldiers and avid sportsmen rave about it. So keep this one in mind. Mini rewards for the mini-goals and better rewards for the intermediate goals. Celebrate your final victory with something really special to you.
As Benjamin Franklin rightly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” If you wish to be successful in your weight loss efforts, you have to be well prepared for the challenge.
- Build the right weight loss mindset
- Have realistic and attainable goals
- Break down your objective into short term goals
- Avoid using imperatives in your goals
- Add the specific execution details for exercises
- Make a food list and create a meal plan
- Shop and stock according to your weekly menu
- Track your progress in a journal
- Rework the plan execution as you understand the flaws in it.
- Set up non-food based rewards for every milestone