Do you tend to bite off more than you can chew when starting a new diet? If you’re like us, you go balls to the wall and do things like go vegan, give up TV, swear off alcohol, and clock big hours on the treadmill. Then on day two, you’re laid up on the couch nursing sore muscles while watching reality TV with cocktail in hand and pizza on speed dial.
Slow down, killer. You have to be realistic and create a lifestyle that you can actually live with. Losing weight is hard enough without adding more to your plate.
Assess Your Goals
According to everything you read online, hear on the radio and see on TV, losing weight is as easy as taking a pill or doing a four-minute workout a few days per week, transforming your body from a size 16 to 6 in as little as 30 days.
The reality is that losing weight is difficult but completely doable if you adjust your expectations and set yourself up for success.
What’s realistic to lose?
Don’t assume you need to lose 50 pounds. Have your body composition analyzed by a professional to pinpoint your ratio of lean muscle mass to fat and determine how many pounds of fat you can safely lose while keeping as much lean muscle as possible.
How long will it take?
Healthy weight loss is one to three pounds per week, so you could lose 12 to 36 pounds in three months. The difference between one, two and three pounds per week is determined by how aggressive you are with the number of calories you consume versus the number of calories you burn. Even then, these results will vary by your age, gender, history and level of fitness.
What will I eat?
Your diet is an incredibly important part of losing weight and it’s even more critical that you choose one that’s sustainable. In other words, it’s not realistic for you to survive on grapefruit and gummy bears. Beyond being unhealthy and not giving your body what it needs to survive, you’ll get bored very quickly. Between your boredom and your body’s demand for fuel, an unrealistic diet is doomed to fail.
Eating real food and avoiding processed foods is the way to go whether you’re dieting or not. That said, buying and preparing real food takes time. You have to factor grocery shopping, finding recipes and cooking meals into your schedule—and that requires a little food for thought before you dive into any diet.
When will I workout?
In the excitement of starting a new diet and thinking about how great you’ll look when you reach your goal, signing up for that 5 a.m. cycle class seems like the perfect thing to do. It is if you’re a morning person, but if you don’t roll out of bed until 8 a.m. then an afternoon or evening workout may be a more sustainable choice.
These are just some of the questions you’ll need to answer in order to create and stick with a healthy weight loss plan. We’ll focus on how to develop a successful plan in an upcoming blog post.