My 12 guidelines for losing weight and keeping it off for good!

1) This is going to be a lifestyle change. Commit yourself to the fact that the habit changes you are going to make are going to be forever. This is not going to be a “diet” that you will quit once you lose the weight.

2) Know your goals and why you want to achieve them. Why do you want to lose weight and get healthy? Write down all the reasons why it’s important to do this for yourself and review this often. If you don’t know why you want to work for this lifestyle, you won’t take steps to do it.

3) Find support. Ask your spouse or close friend to change habits with you (forever). The closer this person is to your proximity, the better. You need support and someone to keep you accountable. Engage this person and gain their commitment to help support you. At the very least, find an online support community or someone who you can check in with frequently that will keep you accountable to your commitments.  Or, email/Facebook/Tweet me!

4) Start a journal. Write down everything you eat, and track your weight and measurements periodically. Write down how you are feeling about your mood, your appetite, your workout and your overall progress.  Having the ability to look back to see what worked for you or didn't work for you can help you make adjustments along the way.  Also, you can track your progress and use the journal for motivation to see how far you've come.

5) Clean out. Go through your kitchen and rid yourself of all items that will tempt you to fail. These are items that are high in sugar or lack nutrients. Most of your packaged items are not nutritious foods. This doesn’t mean you can't have ice cream ever again. It means that maybe it’s not a good idea to have ice cream in your home at all times. If you only keep healthy options in your home, you will go there first. Then, you know if you truly want ice cream you can go out, get one serving and be done with the craving.

6) Research and shop.  If you don’t know what’s healthy, educate yourself by surfing the internet or send me questions directly! There are many resources for healthy meal plans including books and websites. Look for unprocessed foods with five ingredients or less. Keep track of fresh foods you know you like and look for new things you may want to try. When you’re shopping, be creative. Stick to the outside of the grocery store and avoid the aisles where processed foods reside. Or, skip the grocery store and shop at local farmer’s markets and butcher shops.

7) Always have a plan. If you know what to expect, you won’t have a chance to make a poor choice. Plan your meals a week in advance. If you're going to a party on Saturday night, know ahead of time that is your “splurge meal” for the week. Schedule your workouts on your calendar and treat them as appointments you can’t miss. If you are going out to eat, look at the menu online ahead of time to choose a healthy option. Then, you don’t have a reason to open the menu when you get there and be tempted. Always know the what you are eating before you eat it. Then, you can make an informed decision.

8) Always ask yourself – is there a better option? If you are trying to decide between eating a turkey burger and a “real” cheeseburger, determine what you will gain by eating the unhealthy option. How will you feel? Will a turkey burger be satisfying enough that choosing a healthy option will be worth it? If you don’t feel like working out, ask yourself what will you be doing instead? Is it going to get you closer to your goals? If you would rather sit and watch television versus working out, promise yourself that you will workout for 10 minutes. If you still prefer to be watching television after 10 minutes, you can quit and do so. This doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”. Just be sure to weigh all of your options prior to making decisions about what you want to do.

9) Be honest with yourself.  If you eat something that’s 500 calories and you only journal 300 calories, you still ate 500 calories. You’re not fooling anyone!  If you're going on vacation for a week and you don’t feel like journaling, the journal fairy isn’t going to come down and zap you. Know that if you choose not to journal, your week may not be as successful as if you did journal. Accept this fact and accept that this doesn’t constitute you “blowing everything”. When you return from vacation, return to journaling and your healthy habits.

10) Every day is a new day. If you overindulged on pizza and beer last night for dinner, doing it again today likely doesn’t get you to where you want to be. Forgive yourself for yesterday and focus on what you want to accomplish in the present day. If you feel guilty, write about it in your journal and be done with it. Maybe next time you overeat, you’ll go back to your journal and remember how awful you felt. This will compel you to do something different the next time around.

11) Always keep changing.  Your body is designed to adapt and be efficient, so you need to keep challenging your body - keep it guessing!  If you eat 1600 calories and the same foods every day, plan a cheat meal once per week.  Consistent calorie reduction can be more harmful than helpful.  A cheat meal serves many purposes - it gives you something to look forward to so you stay on track the rest of the week, it can help with deprivations, plus a higher calorie meal will surprise your body.  Also, change your strength workouts at least every six weeks by increasing weight, trying new exercises or decreasing rest time in between reps.  If you do cardio, your body will quickly adjust to going 45 minutes at the same speed.  Doing a shorter high intensity workout can actually be more beneficial than a longer, steady cardio workout.  Focus on the quality of your workout, not the quantity.

12) Repeat these actions so they become habits. If you lose your accountability partner, find a new one. Spend 30 minutes each month researching new meals or cleaning out your cupboards. Spend 15 minutes once a week making your plan for the upcoming week. If your habits start to slip, just start over the next minute/hour/day – whatever you and your mind can agree upon! Know your options and make informed decisions. Revisit and refresh your goals often. It isn’t easy to change habits, but it can be done with repeatable steps and intended action!  Never give up!

1 comment:

  1. these are great points Heather!

    11 is really, really important - I think it keeps us on our toes. it's easy to get in a rut when you do the same things over and over again. also, it's very possible to be in a plateau phase so changing things up is key to getting out of that position.

    really excellent post!