Tips for Successful Weight Loss

by Stephanie on January 24, 2011 · 0 comments

in Weight Loss

Not surprisingly, losing weight is the #1 New Year’s resolution. It’s also one of the least successful. People make this resolution year after year and don’t see positive results. They are often gung ho through most of January and by February they have fallen off the wagon. Since January is quickly coming to a close, it seems like a good time to visit this topic and see how we can all be successful in our endeavors.

First off, I don’t like the word resolution. A resolution is just a statement and there’s rarely a plan to back it up. Usually the time period associated with a resolution is the full year, giving you a false sense of time. I have 12 months to achieve this goal; I don’t have to start today! Then suddenly it’s December 30th, and you realize you never started at all. Plus, they’re associated with being broken. So what’s a better word? GOAL. For me, this word has more meat and meaning behind it, especially if you make it S.M.A.R.T.

Words are just words though. Here are some tips on being successful in your weight loss endeavors, regardless of what you call it!

Set small, achievable goals – You may have 50 or 100 lbs you want to lose but thinking of it in those terms is a daunting task for even the most motivated person. Keep in mind your end game, but set smaller goals that will be achievable in a shorter time. How about 5 or 10 lbs? When you reach the smaller goal celebrate (preferable not with cake & ice cream!) and set another goal. You’ll get to the same place in the end, but you may not be as overwhelmed.

Have motivations other than being skinny – Studies have shown that the desire to be thin is rarely enough to keep you motivated long-term. Try setting a goal to be able to bike for an hour or run a 5k. Focus on setting a good example for your family or how it will feel when you have the energy to play with your kids instead of just watching them. Think of all the ways achieving your goal will make your life better and derive your motivation from them; there are lots!

Have a support group – Having a strong support system is so important in everyday life and even more important when you are embarking on a journey like weight loss. You need positive, caring people who will help motivate, listen, and support you through the little successes and failures. Many people find that support through online communities. Even though the anonymity is nice, it’s still important to enlist people close to you in real life (roommates, family, friends) to be your supporters. You’re more accountable to them and they’re the ones that will be there with you dining out, ordering a late night pizza, etc. If they know what you’re trying to do, they’ll be able to help keep you on track. You may even find they have similar goals and you can support each other. I know it got a lot easier for me when my roommate decided he also needed to lose some weight too. Now we both buy and make healthier foods. That’s much preferable to me eating chicken and veggies while watching him munch on pizza and Oreos!

Find Activities that you enjoy – Exercise is an important part of losing weight. So what’s the best exercise? The one you’ll actually do. Sure, running burns more calories per hour than most other forms of exercise. But if you hate running, you won’t stick with it. Same goes for any activity. So figure out what you like to do. Swim? Walk? Bike? Rollerblade? Maybe you like tennis or volleyball; find a league or set up a weekly game with friends. Try classes at the gym. You don’t even have to be a member since most gyms allow you to buy a punch card for classes. Do a different one every week if you want! Just find something that’ll actually want to go back and do. It’s much less painful this way!

Find tools that work for you – There are innumerable tools, gadgets, and diet plans designed to help you lose weight. Calorie trackers, heart rate monitors, pedometers, shake weights, pills and supplements, meal replacement shakes, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc, etc, etc. What works for one person may not work for another so you’ve got to try different things, sifting through the options until you find something that works for you. This may take time, but don’t get discouraged. If you try something and decide a few weeks into it that it’s not going to work for you, switch. Don’t quit, just try something else. Eventually you’ll come across something that isn’t cumbersome for you and gets results. Then stick with it!

Track Progress in Different Ways – Put down the scale! Weight is important but especially at the beginning of a diet and exercise program it can be stubborn and misleading. Exercise will help you gain muscle and lose fat; however, muscle weighs more than fat so you might see your weight go up initially. Or you may see no change at all. This can be discouraging if you don’t have other ways to track your progress. Be aware of how your clothes fit or have a tight pair of pants to use as a guide. Take measurements on a regular basis. You might see changes here without any movement on the scale. Do periodic fitness, strength, or flexibility tests. If you can run farther in a given time or lift more than you could last month, you’re on the right track. Progress in these areas will get you through the dark days.

Make it fit your life – Does your family have pizza delivered every Friday night? Do you have a weekly date for drinks with the girls? Is there a birthday coming up? Don’t cut out these events. Cut back, sure. But if you take the fun out of food and life, you’ll never want to continue. Eat very light the rest of the day to fit in the pizza or add a side salad to fill you up so you eat less take out. Get an extra workout in so you can have drinks with the girls. Have 2 drinks instead of 3. Plan for that birthday cake in advance then enjoy it and be in the moment, not calculating calories and worrying about your waistline. Your family, your friends, and your sanity will thank you.

Don’t quit over one bad meal/day/week – Weight loss is a process. You’re going to lose, gain, plateau, pig out, conquer fears, celebrate, cry, and learn a lot about yourself in the process. Messing up will happen. You’ll go to dinner with friends and not being to stop yourself from eating half the nachos on the table. You’ll have a bad day at work and comfort yourself with ice cream. You’ll go home for the holidays or on vacation and take the week off. That’s okay. What’s not okay is quitting because of it. Accept, even embrace the overindulgence and then get back on track.

Any tips for weight loss success that have stuck with you? Share in the comments!

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