When you are trying to lose weight and gain health, it is sometimes difficult to get started. With any structure, building on a weak foundation threatens its stability. Therefore, I have created a five-step guide to help you to develop a strong foundation for your weight loss program and healthy lifestyle.
5 step guide to build a strong foundation for you weight loss program:
Set a purpose for your weight loss program
In business and other areas of our lives, we have been challenged to consider our why as a source of inspiration and motivation to achieve our goals. I challenge you to also consider your weight loss why. Getting healthy and fit is not only about exercising and eating well. It’s about being whole-life healthy and productive in our business, family, and social lives. We are connected to communities that rely on us to give our best, and being healthy and fit can only enhance and accelerate our ability to excel in every area of life. Create a mountain top goal, an overarching achievement that you want to reach in your weight loss journey. This should be a distinct, product goal such as “lose 40 pounds” or “get my blood pressure to 118/70” or “get my cholesterol to 170.”
Along with setting a mountain top goal, set smaller, process-oriented, SMARTR goals. SMARTR is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Sensitive, and Rewarded. A SMARTR process goal would be to “I will walk a mile per day.” It’s specific (walk), measurable (one mile), attainable (you can do it at your own pace), relevant (connected to your why and your mountain top), time-sensitive (within a 24-hour period), and rewarded (do something nice for yourself upon completion). This smaller process goal, if done each day, should be instrumental in achieving your mountain top, product goal.
Finally, in setting your purpose, consider potential pitfalls and plan for them (CP3). One reason why we are often unsuccessful in our weight loss efforts is because we fail to plan for potential obstacles that could derail our progress. If you are cognizant of how stressful situations cause you to eat poorly, busy times at work lead to calling for pizza delivery, or how certain people may influence you to make poor food choices or distract you from your exercise time, it’s important that you create a plan of action for overcoming those pitfalls.
Set a start date. Mark it on your calendar
Setting a date to start your weight loss program accomplishes several feats. First, it allows you to get organized and mentally prepared. Often, starting a program means buying new workout clothes and equipment and reconstituting your brain to know that this change is coming in your lifestyle. Second, it affords you time to set your goals, consider your pitfalls, and create plans for accomplishing your goals and defeating your pitfalls. Third, setting a start date affords you the chance to get the junk out of your system and out of your fridge and pantry. I like to set Monday as a start date. That way, I take the weekend prior to really live it up! I also take time to hit the grocery store to load up on healthy foods while cleaning the junk out of my cabinets, freezer, fridge, and pantry. Finally, setting a start date creates a psychological contract with yourself. You have told your brain that you have committed to start your journey on that day!
Do your homework and create a plan
There is a healthy lifestyle plan out there for everyone, but the reason why many people are unsuccessful with weight loss is because they, placing unrealistic demands on themselves, try to completely change their lives overnight. Do your homework and create a plan that can be successfully integrated into your current lifestyle.
- Consider your rhythms – if you’re a night owl, workout at night. If you’re a morning person, workout before the sun comes up. Don’t commit yourself to working out at 5:30 am if you hate mornings. You’ll set yourself up for failure.
- Go to the doctor – see a physician to make sure that you don’t have conditions that may be counterproductive to your weight loss program
- Research healthy meal plans (not diets). This may involve seeing a nutritionist, dietician, coach, trainer, or joining a support program like Weight Watchers.
- Find an exercise program that you will find enjoyable. This might involve joining a gym, hiring a trainer, joining a group fitness program, or playing a sport. Also, invest a good amount of money into an exercise program. It’s a lot harder to skip out on workouts when you know that a great deal of money will be wasted if you do.
- Create a workout calendar. Set workout appointments on your calendar the same way that you schedule important business meetings, dates, or events, and don’t allow anything to take precedence over that time.
If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle, don’t let the fact that you may be out of shape or overweight stop you from taking action. The old proverb “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” is especially true with your health and fitness. Start somewhere – walking, a beginners’ class, swimming, taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Doing something is always greater than doing nothing.
Create a system of accountability
Accountability partners are great, and I believe you should have one or more people to keep you accountable, but people have their own lives for which they are accountable. Make accountability partners a portion of your overall accountability system. Having an accountability system means that if one portion of your system falls through, another will step up to shore up the shortcoming. Your accountability system might include an accountability partner, journaling, a fit tracker, a personal trainer, setting alarms and appointments on your phone, prayer and meditation, and keeping visual reminders (photos, inspirational quotes, etc.) in eyesight.
This may all seem very labor intensive, but it’s important to count up the costs. If taking the time to build a strong foundation for your weight loss program means that you will develop lifelong habits of health, fitness, and wellness that will dramatically improve the quality of your life, it is very well worth the time and energy to lay a great foundation.
With these tools, I am confident that you will exceed your weight loss goals and finally achieve the whole life wellness you desire.