January 1st is around the corner and you know what that means? You will have another New Year’s resolution to lose weight and the start of yet another diet! You hope this diet will be the best. However, one way to ensure your success is to start right, start smart with these best first steps to weight loss.
I have been on my weight loss journey, get healthier journey for about 15 months (and lost 80 pounds) and I have learned that it’s important to take the right first steps, or have as much as you can in place to stick to your plan. This is especially important if you have a lot of weight to lose.
So there are my best first steps to weight loss.
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You may have heard this before – When you know the why, the how becomes easier. Or the stronger the why, the easier the how. They are based on a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th-century German philosopher. His original quote is – If you know the why, you can live any how.
Whichever version resonates with you, it’s clear that before you embark on another diet or lifestyle change, it’s best to figure out your why. Why do you really want to lose weight?
This year, we have seen yet another reason to be at a healthy weight. COVID-19 is a new addition to the long list of diseases that you are at risk of if you are obese.
In addition to COVID-19, obesity and overweight are linked to the following diseases:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and strokes
- Certain types of cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Pregnancy problems, such as high blood sugar during pregnancy, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean delivery
And if you are overweight or obese, you know that you can add a few emotional issues to the list, including:
- Low self-esteem
- Low confidence
So much of your life is affected when you are overweight. For example, I was always conscious when taking public transportation. I feared that I would take up more than my share of the seat. Also, I was not only out of breath with minimal activity, I feared that if you sat next to me in a meeting you could hear me breathe.
And of course, I avoided doing any physical activity in public or with others since I was embarrassed of being the slowest or the worst. I have many examples and the list goes on and on.
We are all different and I do know overweight and obese people who are healthy, confident and happy. But if you want to reduce your weight, the first place to start is why. Your answer will be the best motivation especially when times are tough (and there will be a few).
Here is my reflection on why I wanted to lose weight.
Choose a Diet for the Rest of Your Life
It has taken me a very, very long time to realize that you can’t go on a diet for any period of time and at the end of it expect that the weight will stay off for good while you return to your old habits.
I recently heard a trainer say that we should never go on a diet that has an expiration date.
So rather than a fad diet, make changes to your food choices that you can live with the rest of your life. No, you don’t have to eat grilled fish and a garden salad forever. This is what I eat and don’t eat to lose and maintain my 80-pound weight loss:
The truth is changing your diet is hard and if you are hungry it will be even harder. But if you eat protein and fiber at every meal, you will be satisfied for a longer period of time. Consequently, you are more likely to stick with your new eating habits.
You may also be interested in 52 Zero-Calorie Foods and Drinks to help you make smarter choices.
Fiber can be your weight loss secret weapon. Foods Rich in Fiber for Weight Loss
I am sure you heard a lot about drinking more water. Here’s how much water you really need to drink for weight loss: How Much Water to Drink Daily for Weight Loss.
So now you have the foundation of what to eat. Plan what you will have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for weekdays and weekends. If you are like me and not that great in the kitchen, you will need to get at least two weeks of healthy dishes.
You may have heard that abs begin in the kitchen. Well, I will go further and say that all weight loss begins in the kitchen. In other words, you really have to learn to cook healthy meals.
You can follow me on Pinterest for healthy recipes or just Google a healthy version of your favorite dish. There are so many healthy options available you really don’t have any excuses any more.
Furthermore, get rid of any junk food that will only make your new healthy lifestyle harder. As a mother, I know this may be hard for the rest of the family. But you are not going on a fad or restrictive diet.
Why not give the gift of health for the whole family? Both my husband and son actually enjoy eating better and both have lost weight.
Have a back-up plan in case you have to eat out so you won’t resort to fast food or junk food. My back-up is a naked chicken burrito from Chilpolte.
Plan ahead and get your healthy shopping done ahead of the week. Otherwise you’ll just end up eating junk. Don’t forget to get not just meals, but snacks as well. Snacks for home, and on the go.
Sixty-six days – that is on average on how long it takes to break a bad habit and adopt a new habit. You may have heard that it only takes 21 days to change your behaviour, but a 2009 study found that it takes on average 66 days to break and form a new habit.
However, the same study found that there were huge individual differences; anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for a new habit to stick. Are you more average, on the low end or high end?
Be patient with your diet changes. It truly is a long, slow marathon. You should aim for consistency rather than perfection. It’s okay if there are a few times when you have a cheat meal or even a cheat day. You are making changes literally and figuratively, for the rest of your life!
I found it was easier to think of moving more and being more active rather than what we normally think of exercising. I feel when we think of exercising we envision a set time and place to workout. But in my opinion at the beginning of your journey just get up and move as much as you can.
Instead of sitting at your desk, can you stand and walk on the spot? Or can you use an Under Desk Cycle? Can you also walk on the spot while watching TV, on the phone, checking text messages, on social media? You get the picture, just move more.
I like counting steps because it shifts the focus on being more active. Don’t worry about having 10,000 steps a day. Start adding 500 steps and work your way up. And depending on your starting point, you may only need to have 7,500 steps a day.
Read more about steps here: Do you need to walk 10,000 steps a day for weight loss?
If you want to start exercising, the best exercises for overweight individuals are walking, cycling, swimming and strength training. Read more here: The 4 Best Exercises for Overweight Individuals for Weight Loss.
Also consider starting the 30 Day Step Challenge for Overweight Beginners.
If you are like me and are more comfortable working out at home, here are 11 YouTube workouts that you can do in the comfort and privacy of your home. 11 Best Home Workouts for Overweight Beginners.
The workouts range from 15 to 30 minutes. They are perfect for beginners and even include workout that you can do while sitting.
You want to turn your body into a calorie burning machine and increase your metabolism by being more active and gaining muscle. Read more here: Can You Really Increase Your Metabolism?
Write it Down
Keeping a food diary will help you stick to your changes and lose weight. One study found that those who recorded what they ate daily lost twice as much weight as those who did not!
We usually underestimate how much we eat. But now when you keep track of your meals, you will know for sure how much you really eat.
I found that I thought twice (or three times) about eating certain things because I knew that I would have to write it down. Logging my meals kept me honest to myself.
You should log all your meals and snacks. I also include the number of calories. It may seem tedious, but it becomes quite easy when you get used to it.
However, you need a convenient system. I love my Fitbit and it helps me track not only my meals but steps, exercise and many more. Read more here: 9 Great Ways to Use Fitbit for Weight Loss. You can try using MyFitnessPal to help you log your food and exercise.
Both Fitbit and MyFitnessPal will tell you how many calories you need to consume to lose one or more pounds a week.
Measure Your Success
Speaking of tracking your meals and exercise, you should also track your weight. I know, I know. You probably hate the scale as much as I do. But I started to like it more when I had more consistent success.
There is some research to show that those who weigh themselves everyday lose more weight and keep it off. One study of overweight and obese gym members found that those who weighed themselves daily were more likely to lose significant weight and then keep it off.
Read more here: 3 Great Reasons to Weigh Yourself Daily
If stepping on the scale every day is too much for you, then by all means, weigh yourself weekly. The best day to step on the scale is Friday. Why? Research has found that we are at our lowest weight on Fridays. Here’s a surprise – and we are at our highest weight on Sundays and Mondays!
So if you weigh yourself once a week, avoid Sundays and Mondays. If you start your lifestyle change on January 1st, you’re in luck, as January 1, 2021, is a Friday. If you prefer to weigh weekly just keep it on Fridays.
I have a Fibit scale which syncs with my Fitbit watch. My scale gives me my weight (of course) as well as my body fat percentage and BMI. All are great to track and see your progress over time.
You can also measure your chest, waist, hips, arms and legs. Your waist measurement, in particular, may indicate if you are at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Women should have a waist measurement of 35 inches or less, and it is 40 inches or less for men. Check out this tape measure for the body if you need one.
Best First Steps to Weight Loss
Take the right first steps and your weight loss journey will be a lot easier. 2021 will be your year to finally lose the weight and keep it off!
I was just like you, I failed so many times that I was not hopeful. But these are the steps that I took back in 2019 and I am sure that these steps made the difference between success and failure for me.
If I did it, so can you!