Weighing In: How do I get started on my lifestyle makeover?

Heather Reese Health Guide

    Question: I am 100 pounds overweight and I desperately want to lose weight. Every day I make a weight loss plan, promising myself that, starting tomorrow, I'm going to exercise at least an hour a day and follow a strict diet plan until the weight comes off. The only thing is: I never start. How can I get over this hump to lose my weight?


    Heather: Let me tell you, you are not alone. I think we are all guilty of promising we will start "tomorrow" or "Monday" or "after a big event". Taking that first step towards anything is the hardest one and if you are feeling ready, why wait until tomorrow morning?

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    Start now by making healthy choices at your next meal. And instead of promising yourself that you'll start working out tomorrow, get up and take a walk around the block right now. While it may not be the vigorous workout you're planning for tomorrow, it's definitely better than sitting on the couch. And it might just motivate you to actually follow through with your work out plans tomorrow.


    Small Goals

    You might also want to consider dialing back your new lifestyle plan. You've certainly set lofty goals for yourself, to work out at least one hour everyday and follow a strict diet. You may be subconsciously intimidating yourself with your plans. Working out every day and following a strict diet may be more than you're ready for. Remember, you don't have to make vast changes to your lifestyle to reap the benefits.


    Consider taking baby steps towards your workout and diet goals by setting short-term goals. Instead of working out at least one hour everyday, try to get 30 minutes of exercise in a day. Or plan to workout for an hour three days a week and work your way towards your goal of daily activity. Any increase in physical activity is going to make a difference and even 30 minutes counts - so start there. Also, if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle up until now, taking on an intense exercise regimen could lead to injury. Don't forget your body isn't used to being that active; you need to work yourself both physically and mentally to the point of being ready to exercise an hour a day.


    F is for Forever

    Too often we plan to be "good" starting tomorrow so we think of today as our last day of freedom. Weight loss is a journey, especially when you're talking about losing a lot of weight. Studies show that you will be more successful if you make lifestyle changes instead of dieting. Cutting foods that you love out of your diet completely can leave you feeling deprived. If you aren't absolutely sure you can go forever without a food item, don't give it up. Instead, work out a meal plan that lets you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. You are much more likely to stick to a weight loss program that includes the foods you love to eat. Don't forget, any food - in moderation - can be part of a healthy diet.


    Buddy System

    Another way to get on track and stay on track is to enlist help. Find a friend to meet you at the gym or to meet you at a specific time to walk around your neighborhood, you are more likely to go if you are accountable to someone else. Plus, we often fall off our diet plan when we are out with friends who aren't eating healthfully. If you enlist your friends and they are also trying to eat healthfully and be more physically active, you may be more likely to make healthy choices when your social plans include food. And don't forget to plan social events that are focused on something other than food. Mini golfing, bowling, going somewhere to play pool or to dance are all fun activities that allow you to enjoy the company of your friends without overindulging in foods.

Published On: April 29, 2008