So, I made a new year’s resolution to lose weight. How do I go about it? In my youth, I could easily lose weight by simply going to the gym regularly. Run, do a little strength training, and generally increase my physical activities. This time, however, I knew I need to do a little bit more than that. After all, my metabolism is slowing down. Believe me, losing weight is difficult. You need to plan, execute, track your progress and make sure you remain committed for sustained improvements.
How do you get started? Your first step is to set your goals. This may sound easy, but in reality, is not. When I finally decided to lose weight early this year, I thought that I can choose a target weight based on what I used to weigh. I’ve discovered through time, however, that this might not be the best approach. I realized that the goal of losing weight itself should be further scrutinized. Do you want to lose weight to fit into your old clothes? Or do you want to lose weight for health reasons? Do you even need to lose weight in the first place? There are a number of measures to determine if you are overweight, such as your body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio, and abdominal girth. Keep in mind, though, that these parameters are estimates and do not measure fat content.
Once you are convinced that you need to lose weight, your next step is to set SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. This sounds like a lesson in an MBA class, but works pretty well even for fitness goals. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to target more than 10 percent of your body weight. Experts also say that losing one or two pounds per week is reasonable and healthy. Initially, I set my goal at 20 pounds within six months. As I did a little more research, however, I refined my goals to take into consideration fat content and other measures of health. Overall, however, 20 pounds in six months was reasonable for me.
Once you have set your goals, you are on your way to your weight loss journey. What else do you need to do? The following helped me in my progress:
- Research. Do a lot of reading to help you refine your goals, make adjustments and get tips from experts. I found lots of resources online and these have helped me a lot in planning, developing an exercise program, tracking my progress and generally keeping me motivated. Along the way, my goals expanded not only to losing weight but to keeping a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.
- Consult your doctor. It is always a good idea to consult your doctor before undertaking any weight loss program.
- Develop an exercise program. I started on this excellent 12-week program I found online (http://exercise.about.com/cs/weightloss//a/12weeks.htm). Of course, I didn’t really religiously follow all the recommended exercises, but it really jump-started my journey. READ MORE: CHOOSING AN EFFECTIVE EXERCISE PROGRAM
- Develop a dietary plan. Losing weight is about burning more calories than what is consumed. Balancing a healthy diet with a regular exercise program is key to a successful journey to weight loss. READ MORE: 5 STEPS TO CUT DOWN CALORIES EFFECTIVELY AND SAFELY
- Keep a journal. I found this very useful in setting daily/weekly goals and keeping track of my progress. As I write down what I have achieved, it motivated me further to continue my program. For this purpose, I used the Starbucks 2013 planner. READ MORE: KEEPING A WEIGHT-LOSS JOURNAL