Ready to create a healthier version of yourself? Great! You are about to make changes that will improve your health, give you more energy and have you feeling amazing. As you may already know, weight loss does not come easy for everyone. This weight loss quick start guide will help prepare you for this long-term commitment.
Setting goals is a great way to stay focused. However, many people set unrealistic goals and end up giving up because doesn't seem achievable. Let’s say you need to lose 50 pounds. While that’s your end goal, you should have smaller goals in place.
You can make mini goals of 10 pounds. You want to be focused on hitting your next goal and that goal alone. Thinking beyond that can be overwhelming.
Once you reach that goal, find a way to reward yourself. It could be a new outfit, new shoes, spa day, cooking gadget...whatever makes YOU happy.
Knowing & Tracking Your Nutrition
It’s important to get the nutrients your body needs every day. You want to be sure you are getting the right amount of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) to fuel your weight loss. Each meal should have a lean protein (about 4 ounces), a lot of vegetables, a small portion of healthy carbs and an even smaller portion of healthy fats. Stay away from high amounts of sugars, sodium and saturated fats. If you are not confident in reading food labels, check out this article, How to Read Food Labels.
You want to get your body on a new eating schedule so it knows when to expect food. When your body is confident that it will have the nutrients it needs when it needs them, it will stop storing fat for survival.
Breakfast is essential to starting your day off the right way. A good breakfast will help you to not crave unhealthy foods all day. If you’re not a breakfast person, click here to learn about small changes you can make to incorporate that into your day.
Having a weight loss or calorie counting app makes this process so much easier. They allow you to enter your foods and will keep track of your calories and macronutrients. There are several available for Apple and Android devices. Learn more about the top apps here.
Stocking Your Pantry
When you are starting your journey, you want as little temptation as possible. Clear out anything that will tempt you to make unhealthy decisions. You want to have low-sodium marinades & broths, low-calorie salad dressings, healthy fats like olive oil, and a spice cabinet of your favorite flavors. Get healthy snacks like popcorn, Fiber One sweet treats, granola, etc. Make sure you have a good amount of fruits and vegetables, too.
Planning Your Meals
Meal planning and prepping will be your ultimate tool to success. It takes the guesswork out of what you’re going to eat next, which helps you to make healthier decisions.
Before you go grocery shopping, think about what you would like to eat for the week. Choose a couple lean proteins that you can make. Next choose a few vegetables that you like and don’t mind if there’s a lot of them to eat. Finally, choose some healthy carbs to round out your meals. Try to match up ingredients in recipes as best as possible so you don’t waste anything. For example, if you have a recipe that calls for half an onion, try to use a recipe that can use the other half. Always try to save money by getting bulk packs of foods like chicken. You can have chicken every day, just change up what flavor it has (marinades to the rescue!).
Now that you have some ideas of what you would like to eat, let’s put it all together.
Create a calendar of meals and put in a protein, vegetable and carb in all of your lunch and dinner slots. You can mix and match to keep it interesting.
For breakfast, you can go a little heavier on the carbs. Plus it’s a great time to add in some fruits. Some great breakfast ideas include Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, overnight oats with fruit, smoothies, etc.
Make sure to have options for low-calorie snacks, too. A good rule is to prepare 100 calorie snacks. You can buy them already done for you, but if you are snacking on produce, it’s always more cost effective to prep them yourself.
Once you have filled in all of your slots, make your shopping list. After you do it for a little while, it will not only get easier, but you will come up with your own tricks to keep yourself on target.
Planning for Exercise
While weight loss is about 80% of what you eat, you want to add exercise to your routine for optimal results. It burns calories and helps you to have the caloric deficit you need to lose. This doesn’t mean you need to be at the gym four hours a day. Schedule 30 minutes of activity every day. Aerobic exercises (cardio) are exercises that get your heart pumping, like walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, etc. Check local fitness clubs for group classes, the class goes by quick and you’ll meet new people with the same goals.
Strength training is another way to get the extra calorie burn. This can be lifting weights at the gym or purchasing some dumbbells to use at home. When you build muscle, it helps burn more calories than fat tissue does. Essentially the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn.
Remember that the more activity you do, the more calories you will burn. Sneak a little extra movement in wherever you can. Take the stairs, park far away from the store or work, take quick walks on work breaks, dance while you’re cleaning...every bit counts!
When you’re on your weight loss journey, your body will start responding to your diet and exercise. Know that it is perfectly normal to gain a few pounds at the beginning. Your body may take a little time to get used to the fact that you are eating on a regular basis and still store fat like it used to. Plus, muscle weighs more than fat so as you start exercising, you will start building some muscle, which may cause the scale to go up slightly.
Log your starting weight and measurements either in an app or in a notebook. You want to have access to it for future weigh-ins. Always weigh yourself first thing in the morning. And always do measurements, too. It’s possible that the scale won’t budge but you’re losing inches. It’s important to see your progress to stay motivated. You should weigh in no more than once per week. If possible, every two weeks.
Document the Journey
Many times you will not see your progress when you look in the mirror. You may see the scale and measurements going down, but it can be difficult to actually see it for yourself. Taking photos at each goal or each weigh in will allow you to see the changes in your body.
When you take photos, note what new things you are feeling, experiencing and what is working for you. Also note what you need to work on. This will help you to stay on track and understand your habits so you can prepare for anything.
Celebrate Each Win
As you hit each goal, pass up your favorite unhealthy food, walk when you don’t feel like it, or any other situation where it was difficult to make a healthy decision, you should celebrate it. Each little win that you achieve gets you closer to your next goal. Recognize it to yourself, post it in a weight loss support group or yell it from the rooftops...whatever you choose, just be sure to commend yourself and feel good about it.
Lastly, remember that you CAN do this. Best of luck on your journey!
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