Weight loss is a journey. Make sure you’re in the right frame of mind by mentally preparing yourself for the road ahead.
Losing weight — and keeping it off for good — requires both physical and mental preparation. You need to determine a weight-loss planthat you are able to stick with for the long haul. It’s not easy, but there are steps you can take to stay motivated.
10 Ways to Get Psyched for Weight Loss
1. Commit. “The first step is making a commitment to yourself,” says Anne Wolf, RD, a registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “Make a commitment and then share that commitment with somebody else.” This will make you more accountable to your diet, exercise plan, and weight-loss goals.
2. Make a plan. “Think about you as a person, as a whole being, and come up with a plan that’s going to be best for you,” says Wolf. It should be a program that will help you lose weight, but also be easy to stick to. This goes for both diet and exercise.
3. Don’t wait for the “right time.” At one time or another, everyone has determined what they think is the perfect time to start a diet — after the holidays, after vacation, after tomorrow. “I think it’s important to recognize that there’s never a perfect time to start,” says Martin Binks, PhD, director of behavioral health research at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center and assistant professor at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
4. Get in the right mindset. Don’t fall into an “all-or-nothing” way of thinking, stresses Binks. You don’t have to give up all decadent foods or exercise strenuously every day of the week. It’s about small changes in your lifestyle that you can stick with and that will brings results overtime.
5. Be realistic. “Think about how your life is right now, and what you can realistically achieve in terms of an exercise and eating plan,” says Binks. That means considering all aspects of your life, including work and family responsibilities. “If you will be traveling for business over the next two months, you probably need to think of a plan to eat healthily in restaurants instead of a stringent plan you would always need to modify,” says Binks.
6. Make time for exercise. Fitness is a key component of losing and keeping off weight. It’s important to create an exercise plan that’s realistic according to your schedule. “Think about how much time you’re going to have for exercise. Anything that gets you moving in the right direction is a good start,” says Binks. Decide to make physical activity part of every day. All those extra steps add up to pounds lost, and it’s even easier when they’re steps that you don’t really consider exercise — like a walk during lunch hour or hiking in a state park on the weekend.
7. Figure out what motivates you. Ask yourself questions to figure out what will help you meet your weight-loss goals, advises Wolf. For example, “Do you need a workout buddy? A reward at certain goals? How can you incorporate healthy foods that you enjoy? What types of activity don’t feel like work to you?” These answers will help you formulate a plan that you can stick with.
8. Don’t think diet, think life change. Preparing to lose weight isn’t about starting a diet, it’s about “starting to make healthy adjustments that you’re going to fit into your life,” says Binks. Being “on a diet” implies that it will end. To maintain a healthy weight, the diet and exercise changes you make in your life should be permanent.
9. Create a network for weight loss. “There’s a social network that begins to develop as you start to attend fitness classes,” says Wolf. Taking a yoga, aerobics, spinning, or kickboxing class gives you support. Make friends at the gym, or visit online community groups to find individuals with similar weight-loss goals. Not only will losing weight be more fun, but it will also be more effective.
10. Use outside resources. “If you have a difficult time with meals, there are companies like Jenny Craig that prepare your meals for you, if you have the money for them,” says Wolf. She also suggests considering what sort of gyms, classes, and parks you have nearby — facilities that help you achieve your weight-loss goals.
It’s not about preparing for a diet, but changing your life so that you don’t need to diet. Eventually making healthy food choices and getting regular exercise will become a part of your day you don’t even have to think about!