Starting a Diet? Answering These 7 Questions Will Set You Up for Success
Have you come to the point where you are saying, “Enough is enough! I have to lose weight!”
Dropping excess weight will help your health and your self-esteem but without adequate planning and resolve, it can be tough to do.
As with any challenge in life, it helps to set realistic goals, plan your moves and track your progress. Naturopathic doctor, Daemon Jones says that the right time to start a diet is when you are mentally prepared: “You must spend time thinking through how you will accomplish your goal before you get started.” According to Dr. Jones, success starts with these seven questions:
1. What is my motivation?
It is important to identify why you want to lose weight. You have a better chance of success if it's because you want to improve your overall health but, whatever the reason(s), write it down and refer to it when you feel your resolve flagging. Dr. Jones asserts that “if you don’t have a clear reason for getting started you won’t be successful.”
Make sure you actually need to lose weight. Use an online body mass index (BMI) measuring tool to find out if you are actually overweight. Most tools will also help you to determine what your daily calorie budget is.
2. Is this the right time?
If you have recently experienced a major loss or are planning a large event, now may not be the right time to adopt a dramatic lifestyle change. It is critical that you've addressed any medical issues, like depression or eating disorders. However, it is also important that you don’t make too many excuses for not getting started. We can always come up with reasons for why right now is not the right time. Really assess whether the “major” life event will actually hinder your chances of success.
3. Are my goals realistic?
If you're counting on dropping 15 pounds in two weeks so you can wear a bikini on vacation, you may be disappointed. A healthy rate of weight-loss is about 1- 2 pounds per week. Some lose faster and some slower.
Losing weight means adjusting behaviors. Incremental change is easier to manage than a full-out lifestyle overhaul. For example, adding fifteen minutes of exercise to your day is more doable than adding an hour. You can always increase your commitment as you develop new habits. Keep in mind that accomplishing a little goal is the stepping-stone toward building a lasting habit.
4. What actions will I take?
A solid weight loss plan involves more than just resolving to skip dessert. “Weight management should address nutrition, fitness and emotional habits,” says Dr. Jones. Make sure your strategy is SMART:
- Specific: When will you start? What will you focus on? How will you do it?
- Measurable: How often will you do this? How much will you do? What will you track and how?
- Action-oriented: What eating or behavior will you change? What is your fitness routine?
- Realistic: Can you complete this goal? Be honest! Setting small goals makes it easy to track your progress.
- Time-framed: How long will it take you to reach your goal? What are your milestones?
Examples include following a meal plan instead of grabbing food on the go, have a family dance party instead of watching T.V. and dealing with stress by going for a walk instead of reaching for the cookies. Having a plan of action will set you up on a path for successful weight-loss and weight-maintenance once your goal is reached.
5. What are my options?
Dr. Jones stresses that it is important to “explore options for support.” You don’t have to do everything by yourself. “Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves to weigh each item and prepare well-balanced, portion-controlled food for every meal.” There are plenty of solutions that can support you in your healthy eating journey. Whether it is a prepared meal plan service or acquiring the assistance of a health coach to find out which healthy, convenience items to choose, healthy eating can fit into your crazy, busy life. Before you get started, investigate some of the options out there.
6. What’s holding me back?
Think about all of your challenges around food and plot how you’ll overcome them. Are you tempted by the coffee shop on the way to work? Consider changing your route. Do you end up skipping your evening workout when you're pressed for time? Perhaps a morning jog will work better. "Your goals will be much more achievable, because you've thought about all the kinks in the plan," notes Dr. Jones.
7. How will I track my progress?
If you're stepping on a scale, be sure to weigh yourself at the same time every day. Many people choose to weigh once a week because it is more likely that they will see results and find encouragement. Be aware that a scale may not give an accurate picture of your progress. A sign that you are doing well is if you're sticking to your plan. Watch for clothes feeling looser or keep a journal to track increased energy. Before you start your diet, think of a non-food related reward for your weight-loss milestones. Start with small goals like 2, 5 and 10 pounds lost and reward yourself as you achieve them.
If you have come to the point where “enough is enough” and you are ready to make a change, answering these questions will get you started on the path to weight-loss success. Dr. Jones offers another important piece of advice: “if you are dealing with a medical condition, be sure to speak with a qualified individual to make sure that the weight-loss plan you chose will specifically address your health concern.”
Author: Brandi Redo
Brandi is a Certified Health Coach at Diet-to-Go, based in Lorton, VA. Balance is the number one mission in Brandi’s life. In her spare time she loves to bike, do Zumba and play tennis, but hates gym exercise. She is an amateur gardener and nature walker, who is on the constant look out for interesting insects and small animals. Brandi encourages people to “find the sweetness in life.”