How to Start Losing Weight
Weigh can get away from us. Perhaps we take a new and demanding job. Perhaps we get injured and can’t get out to exercise. Perhaps the holidays hit, a time when it’s too cold to go for a run while there’s plenty of bad things to eat inside the warmth of your house or apartment.
For me, my greatest challenge came when I started having kids. Having little souls running around puts a serious cramp on time, and the first thing to go is often exercise. The second thing to go is often healthy cooking as you opt for fast food and frozen pizzas. That’s what my wife and I did at least.
But, if you’re wondering how to start losing weight, you’ve hit on the most important thing — just getting started. Getting started can be tough, though, and it’s often discouraging when you don’t see immediate results. So, to help you answer the questions of how to start losing weight, here are 5 ideas for getting started and staying on track.
1. Identify the Problem … And Be Honest
There’s a place way down deep inside ourselves where we can be perfectly honest. We just don’t like to go there. And that’s one of the things that’s held me back in the past when I’ve fallen out of shape. I’ve had a hard time being honest about:
- Spending more time stretching and chatting at the gym than actually exercising
- The on-my-way-to-work donut stops when I didn’t have time to eat at home
- Gorging on fatty foods I thought I had earned after hard workouts
- Drinking too much beer on the weekends
- Dessert … after almost every meal
I would do these things and wonder why I couldn’t get back into shape or back down to my ideal weight. Well, an honest heart-to-heart with yourself can help you identify the problems. Then you can turn toward finding the solutions.
2. Start Small
If you haven’t worked out in a year, it’s not a great idea to decide to run a marathon. Rather than choosing a big, dramatic goal, start with something small.
- Decide you’re going to walk around the block after dinner
- Decide you’re going to eat only lean meats and vegetables for a day
- Decide you’re going to cut out dessert for a week
Find small victories when you’re just starting out, and you may find that you’re more capable of fighting the larger battles.
3. Drink More Water
Looking for something small you can do? Start by drinking more water. I’ve found that a lot of people trying new diets get incredibly famished, not because they’re eating less but rather because they’re dehydrated.
How much water should you drink each day? The Mayo Clinic recommends 3 liters for the average man and 2.2 liters for the average woman.
But let’s make it easier than that: If you’re trying to eat healthier and you find that you’re so hungry you can’t stand it, trying drinking a glass of water before you grab the potato chips. You might just find that you’re more thirsty than hungry.
4. Shop the Perimeters
Here’s another easy one, a game you can play when starting to lose weight: Go shopping but stay only on the perimeters of the store. Why? Because the perimeters are where all the good stuff is — the produce, the lean meats, etc.
It’s when you get into the middle of the store that you encounter the processed foods that pack a huge caloric punch. If you can train yourself to stay on the perimeters, you’ll find that you return home with a lot of good stuff and a lot less temptation.
5. Create a Plan
Any weight-loss endeavor needs a roadmap. Where are you now? Where do you want to go? And how will you get there?
And don’t forget our “start small” approach. Don’t create a roadmap to next year or even to next quarter. Start with a month or even a week. How much weight do you want to lose? How will you accomplish it?
Good, lasting weight loss is most often the result of 2 things:
- A balance of exercise and dieting
- A deliberate approach with slow weight loss over periods of time
It’s fun to think of dropping 20 or 30 pounds in a month (if you have that much weight to lose, which I have in the past), but losing that much weight in that short a period of time isn’t healthy. And such rapid weight loss isn’t likely to be permanent either.
6. Do Things You Love
When considering different types of exercise, make sure to find something you enjoy. Some people hate the gym, but they grudgingly go thinking it’s the only place to workout. That’s nonsense.
If you love nature, find a trail to hike.
If you love the water, swim laps or pick up kayaking.
If you love a sport you used to play (like soccer), join a rec league.
Life’s too short to spend doing stuff you don’t like, even if it’s in service to a worthy goal like losing weight.
7. Build Diet and Exercise Into Your Routine
It can feel like weight loss takes time. Not just the weeks and months it takes to see results, but also the precious minutes and hours that go into exercising and eating healthy. So, instead, trying to build diet and exercise into your existing routine.
On the diet front, go to the store on Sundays and pre-make your meals for the week that night. Then, when you’re in the middle of a busy Wednesday, you don’t have to effort to eat healthy. Your meal is ready to go. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up in the drive-through lane because I failed to pre-make meals earlier in the week.
And on the exercise front, consider biking to work or walking on your lunch break. You can also make your desk and workspace a fitness space, too. Try swapping out your desk chair for a large exercise ball, or install a desktop that raises and lowers as needed. You can use it as a standing desk for an hour a day until you build up more stamina.
8. Inspiration and Accountability
Two things that I think are essential to weight loss:
- You must have inspiration.
- You must have accountability.
On the inspiration front, think about how much weight you want to lose, what you want to look like, the things you want to be able to do again. Make these things your mental mantra: When things get tough with diet and exercise, focus on where you want to eventually be.
There was a time when I wanted to be able to walk on my hands. I was too heavy to do so at the time. But I tried every day. And I failed day after day after day. But, as I failed, I got a little bit better at holding myself up and balancing. And then, one day, after losing the weight and gaining the strength, I did it.
You can also post a picture of someone else wearing something that you want to be able to wear or who looks the way you want to look. It’s not a jealousy thing; it’s an inspiration thing.
And, finally, have a friend or family member who knows what you’re trying to do and who is willing to check in on you. The road to weight loss can begin to feel lonely if you don’t have accountability.
9. Track Your Progress
When I have pounds to lose, I weigh myself every day. Here’s the thing: When most people overspend, they’re afraid to check their bank accounts. The same thing goes for weight loss, when you feel like you aren’t doing well, you won’t want to look at the number on the scale.
But there’s no hiding from the truth. Track your progress and know where you stand. If you’re falling behind, you’ll know you need to double your efforts.
10. Just Do It
There’s no waiting for weight loss. Don’t put it off until after a vacation or after the holidays. And don’t say you’ll enjoy a binge week before getting in shape on Monday. Launch your weight loss now. There’s no better time.
Final Thoughts on How to Start Losing Weight
Remember that it can be done, but also remember that it won’t be easy. Weight loss requires hard work, effort and focus, and those things require conviction. So decide that you’re going to get it done, and then go out and follow a plan to do it.
I love looking at before-and-after weight loss pictures, and they can provide added motivation as you get started. I know I’m not alone because the Internet is full of weight loss success stories. You can find them at People.com, at Women’s Health and at Health.com, plus other places, I’m sure. I know that if they can do it I can do it, and I know that if I can do it that you can, too.
Have you enjoyed weight loss success? Let us know about it in the comments section below, or you can reach out directly using our contact page.
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