Losing weight is HARD. I mean sure, some people can drop weight easier than others, and you may even find that it’s easier to lose weight during one period of life than in your other. But overall, the process of losing weight (and ESPECIALLY of keeping that weight OFF), is no walk in the park. It takes hard work, dedication, and a lot of life changes. Then you start to consider hormonal imbalances, anxiety and depression, and a host of other potentially complicating factors, and the difficulty level goes up that much more.
I know – I was stuck for TWO YEARS trying and failing to lose weight!
But finally, I am. And while this is still a work in progress, I can already tell that the changes I’m making can truly LAST.
The weight-loss journey is difficult from start to finish (though it gets easier, by a lot!), but the hardest part for me was getting started. I CAN’T be the only one who struggled with the beginning of the journey, so I’ve written down the top 5 things I did to start losing weight.
Start Prioritizing ME
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. Seriously, if you don’t decide that YOU are a priority, you will never take the time or use the energy to make necessary changes. You won’t! I put everyone else above myself and never had the energy (physical, mental, or emotional) to make new eating choices, figure out what to make for dinner, or plan how to fit in a workout. This, of course, caused me to spiral into anxiety and depression, which sapped my energy, which…..you get it.
“But taking care of those around me makes me happy!” Yeah, well, that’s all well and good until it also makes you UNHEALTHY and STUCK. I found that I am better able to take care of those I love if I am also taking care of myself.
When I finally decided to focus on Me, I was amazed at the progress I made, and realized how much I needed it. granted, I probably went a little overboard, and felt slightly guilty about neglecting my husband…. But after the first few days, I was focused on my self-care AND able to take care of my husband and those around me! I found the determination to choose something DIFFERENT for dinner at a restaurant, I braved asking for fruit instead of breakfast potatoes, I made time to read all of my NOOM articles, and I gradually felt more comfortable taking care of myself.
Please, know that you are worth the energy and time!
Set A Weigh Schedule
Weigh yourself! Regularly! Opinions differ on how often you should weigh, but it is important to incorporate it into your routine in some sort of consistent way. That could be every other day, once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, or even daily. Setting a schedule helps you stay consistent and accountable to yourself. It also helps you more accurately track your progress by showing the change over time. I personally like to weigh on a daily basis. Being able to see how my weight naturally fluctuates day to day helped me see that, even if I seem to be stuck in a rut, or the number goes up, it will go down soon if I Keep On Keeping On.
Remember that the scale is NOT the only way to measure progress. In fact, I recommend choosing at least 1-2 other ways to measure progress in addition to weighing yourself. My two favorites are
- Before and after pics, and
- Measure your body!
Before and after pictures give a fantastic visualization of the changes you are making happen in your body. Your face slims down, your hips narrow, your ankles look less puffy… It can be so encouraging to whip those out and think “DAMN! I did that!”
Body measurements have a similar effect. Seeing how many inches and centimeters you’ve lost off your waist, chest, thighs, etc. is really powerful!
Log Every Meal and Snack
“WOA woa woa”, you might be saying; “That’s excessive and unnecessary for weight loss and takes WAY too much time”. Perhaps, perhaps not… I can tell you that logging everything I eat is one of the BIGGEST contributing factors to my weight loss, and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to make a change.
Trust me, I was right there for a long time. I DID NOT want to “count calories”; but when I bit the bullet and logged anyway, I was stunned. Not only was I way overeating each day, but many of the “healthy” snacks and meals I had were calorie bombs! Even the best guessers among us tend to miscalculate our calorie intake by several hundred calories each day. That adds up fast!
When I first started logging my food, I didn’t even try to stay within my budget; I just tried to get into the habit. But within a day, I caught myself making different food decisions and planning ahead in ways I hadn’t for YEARS. I forced myself to log my food before I even put it on my plate, every single meal, and before the week was out it was a Baby Habit. Now it fits seamlessly into my routine and helps keep me within my calorie budget each day! Remember that weight loss comes down to many things, but the biggest one is calories in vs. calories burned.
Set Your “WHY” (and Your Goals)
Before you set out on a difficult and challenging journey, it’s important to know WHY you are doing so; otherwise, what keeps you from turning back when it gets hard?!
So, WHY do you want to lose weight, or in general get healthier? What is that deep, driving vision that is pushing you to make lifestyle changes? Maybe it’s wanting to be healthy again, or wanting to look and feel like you used to. Maybe you just want to prove to yourself and others that you CAN, or perhaps there is a special person that you want to transform for. Whatever it is, WRITE IT DOWN! I don’t remember where I saw it, but I love the phrase
“It’s only a dream until you write it down; then it becomes a goal”
So write it down and make it happen! If you feel comfortable, share it with the supportive people in your life. They can help encourage you and help you remember why you started this journey in the first place!
After that, set your goals. Your WHY is more or less the ultimate goal, but you want to set other goals, too! Make sure they are achievable and reasonable, and that they are spaced throughout your journey. For instance, my first goal was the log my meals every single day for a week. DONE! I felt accomplished and proud of myself, and I only had to work 7 days to get there! My next goal was further out; I wanted to reach a weight I hadn’t been at in two years. I was so ecstatic when I got there! Be sure to set rewards for each of these goals, too. My reward for that particular goal was a new workout outfit. My next goals are all 10 pound increments, and goals including going dancing with the hubs and fancy date nights. When I reach my Ultimate Goal, my husband is taking me on a trip! (Did someone say Disneyland?!)
Make sure your rewards fit the goal, and that you space them out. Rewards can become ho-hum if we have too many of them too frequently. What are some of YOUR goals? Let me know if you want help setting them!
Get Into A Routine
I’m not the most organized or schedule-bound person in the world, but having a routine makes it so much easier to stick to my goals. Everybody’s routine will look different, but making healthy eating and being more active a part of your every day is vital to making progress. A healthy breakfast is doable for me if I know exactly what options I have, where they are, and how long it will take me to get/prepare/eat. Setting a certain time of day to get some physical activity in helps me get my butt out of my office chair and out the door. Added bonus of having a routine is that the other people in your life start to expect it as well! Yay for coworkers who know that I go to the gym at 11:30 every day and will save their questions until I get back!
If you are like me and have a hard time setting up a routine, there are lots of resources online. Fitbook is a fantastic fitness and eating planner! They have a lot of different options, including a trial print-out version if you want to check it out before buying.
So there you have it, folks. The top 5 things I did to start losing weight. Please remember that everyone’s journey is different; what works for me may not work for you, or you may need to adjust it in some way. I hope that what I wrote here inspires and encourages, and hopefully gives you some tools to start your own Health Journey!
Please drop me a comment about your journey; I want to encourage you!