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Creating Your Weight Loss Plan

Updated on November 24, 2007

All the experts tell you that all you have to do is watch what you eat and exercise every day. It sounds easy, so why is it so difficult? Because you don't have a plan.

Realistic Plans

A realistic plan is one that changes your lifestyle gradually. To do this, they must take your own lifestyle and personality into consideration.

Unrealistic plans ignore you as a person. They require drastic changes. They involve pre-packaged menus and workouts designed by someone who has never met you. You need a plan that makes sense for your life, your style, and your goals.

Know the Goal

In planning, you work backwards, so start with the goal. Don't focus on how much weight you want to lose. Focus on what your goal weight is. Be realistic. Look at your BMI chart, and notice what a healthy weight range is for you. Make your goal the greatest weight number in your healthy range.

Figure out your goal right now.

Get the Printable Free BMI Charts

Post it on your refrigerator as a daily reminder of your goal.

Know Where You Are

Take some photos of yourself, wearing nothing except underwear, mugs shot style (front view, side view). Stand up and pose with your best posture. Pull your hair back if you have long hair, so the photo will include a view of your face and neck. Now look at those photos. It's you, fat and all. Hang onto those pictures. They will make you proud when you drop the pounds, and they'll motivate you to reach your goal.

Take your measurements, and write them down. Measure your arms, legs, waist, chest, neck, and anything else you want to measure. Record the size of your clothing. Keep these measurements as well. They too will make you proud when reach your goal weight.

Do it now. (I mean it. Get out that camera and take your picture. Go get a tailor's tape measure from the sewing section of the store, and measure yourself. This page will still be here when you get back.)

Get the Printable Initial Evaluation Sheets

Record all the information about your starting point on one page.

Start a Journal

Every day, take a few minutes to write down how you feel. Day 1 will probably involve sentences like, "I'm so tired all the time," or "I'm ashamed of how I look." As you begin to change your lifestyle, you'll probably start having entries with sentences like, "I get bored when I'm on the treadmill," or "I love getting outside to take my daily walk." As your body beings to change, you'll start writing things like, "I have much more energy lately," and "I'm thrilled that I drop a size, and all my clothes are baggy."

These entries will become treasures as well as motivation. As you look back at old entries, you'll see how far you've come both physically and mentally. If you have a bad day, you can see where you've had bad days before and still made progress.

You'll also want to designate a place in your journal where you can record your physical progress. If you weigh yourself every week, write the date and your weight at the front or back of your journal (or any place you can flip to quickly). The same goes for body measurements, clothing sizes, BMI, and so forth.

To get started, you can create an online journal, print out some journal paper to make your own journal (get creative and learn to bind a book or stick it in a notebook), or add journal to your shopping list, and pick one up on your next shopping trip.

Get Some Support

You need to lose the weight for yourself. True, but having people around you who are doing it with you makes a huge difference in keeping up your motivation. Get some weight loss buddies.

Just for this purpose, I started a group at Yahoo Groups. If you don't have somebody in your family or a good friend who will help you through the tough times and cheer for you when you succeed, then get an online weight loss buddy. My group is at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/chubby_buddies, and it's completely free and open to everyone.

To get started, sign up for my group right now. Immediately. Call a friend or walk over to a family member and say, "Hey, I've decided to lose weight, and I want somebody to do this with me. Would you like to get healthier and even more fabulous looking with me?" Get up and make contact with somebody at this very moment, and ask them to join you.

Add Some New Nutrition Habits

Decide which new nutrition habits you will adopt, and incorporate them into your life a few at a time. Maybe you want to start by drinking more water, eating a fruit and vegetable with every meal, and switching to whole grain bread. When that become a normal part of your life, add some new healthy nutrition habits.

Never think about taking away a food; always add. Add a vegetable to every dinner. Add two vegetables. Add a fruit to every meal. Add a glass of water to every meal. This isn't about restricting yourself. It's about adding healthier foods to your diet. Eventually, you'll find yourself naturally eating those healthier foods instead of the stuff you want to cut down on. You can still eat the bad foods, but only eat them for special occasions (e.g. weddings, birthday's, holiday's, etc.), and no, Saturday is not a special occasion nor are your dates, lunch meetings, and friendly get-togethers.

To get started, just choose a new habit (nothing big), and start doing it right now. Yes, this very moment. Get up and drink a glass of water or eat a piece of fruit.

Add Some New Activity Habits

This isn't starting an exercise routine; it's just increasing the activity in your normal day. Walk around the block before you get your mail. Crank up the music and clean your house. Walk up the stairs instead of the elevator (or at least get up as many floors as you can before you switch from stairs to elevator). Put together a simple strength training or cardio training routine and do it while you watch your favorite television shows. Just add a little something extra to your normal routines.

These little additions to your day don't require huge blocks of time or effort. They help you slow down and relax, making you feel more centered and happier. They also help boost your energy gradually, so you will start feeling better physically too.

To get started, just choose a new activity (nothing big), and decide right now that you're going to do it. Choose an activity that you do every day. If you don't climb stairs every day, then don't pick that. However, if you happen to get the mail every day, go for a walk around the block before you get the mail out of your mailbox. Write down a reminder and post it in a place you can't miss. Set alarms if necessary.

Exercise at the Next Level

The activities you add to your normal routines are important, but if you really want to shed the pounds, you need to workout. Work is the key word. You need to get yourself sweating at least once a day.

Just do as much as you can for as long as you can (5 minutes is better than 0 minutes). Add more time and intensity whenever you feel like bumping it up to the next level (try adding 1 minute every day). You don't have to run a marathon. Just do something every day. Worry about the minimum amount of workout time later. For now, you just want to get into the habit of exercising.

To get started, right now, choose a workout and a time to do it. It could be a brisk walk, a workout program on television, a bike ride, or even a round on that exercise equipment that's collecting dust in your garage. Commit yourself to doing it. Set alarms to remind you.

DO NOT go on an exercise equipment shopping spree. All you need to get started is a good pair of shoes and some dumbbells or resistance bands. Add equipment as you progress. Even better, use new equipment as a reward: "If I walk a mile every day for one month, I can buy that bike I've been thinking about."

DO NOT automatically assume that you need to join an expensive gym. You don't. Start exercising in your home, in your yard, or in your neighborhood. Only consider paying the money for a gym membership if you truly believe that it will be best for you and that you'll go at least three times per week.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Create a log sheet for your exercise progress. Every time you exercise, write down how long you exercised and the intensity of your workout. If you are doing strength training, record the weight you used, the number of sets you did, and the number of reps in each set. It will make you feel proud to see that last week you could only run to the end of the block, but this week you can run to the end of the street. Last week you could only do 1/2 of a pushup but this week you can do 5.

Weigh yourself every week, and write it down.

Measure yourself every month, and write it down.

Take a photo of yourself in your underwear (mug shot style) every month. You can put all of the photos together into a movie and watch yourself get thinner and healthier.

Celebrate Your Success

Every time you lose 5 lbs. or drop a BMI point celebrate! Go to a movie. Buy a new outfit. Take yourself out on a date. Do something you love to do but don't do often enough because of [fill in your excuse here]. (Just don't reward yourself with food unless you want to gain that weight right back.) You deserve it. You're getting healthy because you want to enjoy life. Remind yourself how much you love life with every step closer you get to your goal.

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