Set Realistic Goals
Setting goals give you something to work toward. Start with small, short-term goals (say 2-3 lbs in a month) so you are able to celebrate your victories (more about that later!). Your ultimate goal should be within 10 lbs of your ideal weight. You can find your ideal weight by calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index). Your current BMI will tell you where you measure on the scale from normal to obese. Once you know where you are on the scale, you can determine how much you need to lose to put yourself in the “normal” BMI range. You can find a BMI calculator here.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
This is another part of reaching realistic goals. You want to be able to set your goals and achieve them in a way that lets you maintain your weight loss. This basically means no yo-yo dieting. Instead, you should focus on a complete lifestyle change. If you are currently a couch potato, this means adding in exercise to your daily routine. It also means revising what you eat, when you eat and how you eat. Most surgeons recommend that you maintain a stable weight for at least six months before you have surgery so that you are able to keep your weight in check after your surgery. If you need extra time, don’t hesitate to reschedule your surgery. You shouldn’t try a “fast-diet” to lose any extra pounds at the last minute. These are easily regained and can alter your results.
Don’t Go on A “Diet”
Fad diets can help you lose weight fast, but they are not good at keeping the weight off for long periods of time. These types of diets are usually hard to maintain for long periods of time because you have to deny yourself of the foods you love. Real weight loss comes from changing your habits. Instead of cutting out certain foods, you should look at how much you are consuming. For instance, it is totally ok to eat a serving of Oreo cookies (a serving is 3 cookies by the way!) but it is not ok to binge eat the entire bag. Counting calories allows you to add in the occasional sweet treat without completely derailing your efforts.
You are not an island! You need help, reassurance and a shoulder to cry on when things don’t go as planned. Find someone who will hold you accountable in a loving, supportive manner. Your mom, your husband or your best friend seem like good options, but often these people will skirt around the truth so they don’t hurt your feelings. Instead, try joining a class, such as Curves or Crossfit, where you can get (and give!) encouragement from others who are going through the same weight loss journey as you are.
Make Exercise a Part of Your Daily Routine
Exercise is a big deal when it comes to weight loss. Eating right can only go so far without adding in exercise to burn calories. Walking, biking and swimming are great beginner exercises that help you get into a routine. When you are ready, add in some cardio exercises and weight lifting to get the maximum impact from your exercise routine. Start out with 30 minutes of activity 3-5 times a week. You can increase your time as you build more stamina. Keep an exercise and food journal to help you see how you are progressing and to help you set more goals. If you need a little extra help, try a fitness app for your phone. There are plenty to choose from including MyFitnessPal and C25K (The Couch to 5K Running Plan).
Learn to Love Water
Staying hydrated is crucial to weight loss and overall health. Some people just don’t like water or feel they need a little variety to their drinks. If this is you, try adding fruits and veggies to your water for added flavor. Try lemons, watermelon or cucumbers for a refreshing treat. You can also try freezing natural fruit juice, such as orange, pineapple or cranberry, into ice cubes to add to your water any time of the day.
The best way to stay motivated on your weight loss journey is to reward yourself when you meet your goals. This can simply be a day of rest, a night out with friends or a new outfit. Try to stay away from rewards that are not good for you, such as a high-fat meal at a restaurant or allowing yourself a day of eating whatever you want.
Find Ways to De-Stress
Emotional eating is one of the biggest reasons that people become overweight. When you are sad, angry or stressed, try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to calm your nerves and settle your mind. Wait at least 15 minutes after you have calmed down before eating to ensure that you are actually hungry.
Make Sleep A Priority
Sleep seems to be the last thing on our list of priorities, but sleep is so essential to good health. Without the proper amount of sleep, your weight loss will be difficult as you will be too tired to exercise, your emotional health will be altered and you will experience a reduced metabolism which is the part of the body responsible for burning calories.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
It can be very frustrating when you are losing weight. It is normal to feel like giving up. Always remember that losing weight is more about being healthy than looking good. A positive attitude goes a long way in ensuring you reach your goals!