When it comes to losing weight, it’s tempting to seek a quick fix with dramatic results. But, usually, making slow, lifestyle changes are what lead to long-term success. And, having a plan of action can help. David Knieriem, MD, a family medicine doctor with ProMedica Physicians, offers these tips for building a weight loss plan:
Talk with your doctor first. It’s best to consult with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program. He or she can help build a weight loss plan that’s customized to your fitness level, nutrition needs, medical conditions, and lifestyle. If you already have a diet or exercise program in mind, explain it to your doctor or take it with you. He or she can also address any potential risks and point you to helpful resources before you get started.
Set goals. Don’t just focus on losing weight; focus on a healthy makeover. Set realistic goals, changing your actions little by little until they become healthy habits. And, make sure your goals are specific so that you can easily gauge if you’ve achieved them. An example of a healthy goal may be to walk for 30 minutes, five days a week, rather than just saying you’ll “walk more”. Having goals will help you stay focused and will give you a basis of measurement to take pride in your weight loss progress.
Be accountable. Join a weight-loss support group, work out with a buddy, or keep a food journal. It’s easy to let yourself slide when you don’t have to account for yourself, but knowing that your friend is waiting at the gym will keep you going.
Identify triggers. When you watch television at night do you tend to nibble mindlessly? When having a bad day at work, does exercise seem overwhelming? Make a conscious effort to avoid stressors or reduce their impact as best as you can. Take a walk in the evening instead of watching TV, or practice deep breathing to relax after a confrontation. If you aren’t sure of your triggers, keep a food and exercise journal to see if there are any patterns in the way you feel or act.
Reward yourself. Making lifestyle changes is tough work. Keep a positive attitude about your new lifestyle and reward yourself for reaching your goals. But don’t give in to the temptation of using unhealthy food as a reward. Instead, go to a movie or have a spa day. Even better – find a way to incorporate your next goal into your reward, such as buying new workout clothes.
Weight loss is a journey. Start your journey today by making an appointment with your doctor to discuss a building a plan that’s best for you.