Before dieting, do this
If you’ve spoken to a smoker about quitting, they know they need to stop smoking because of its hazardous effects on their health. They may stop and then start again, or they may say they will stop smoking tomorrow, and never do; or, they’ll keep pushing the date further and further into the future, because of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, or a friend’s wedding is coming up…because holidays are stressful events. You can apply this same behavior and mindset to people who want and need to lose weight. Yes, it’s hard. Breaking bad habits are difficult. Stressful, or even fun events make change more challenging, so I came up with a to-do list before someone embarks on their weight loss journey to make the process an easier transition, with a much higher likeliness of success.
- Sign up for blog posts on weight loss (yes, like mine here!), that deliver helpful information at least once a week. You don’t need to follow any of the advice, just read the articles.
- Buy at least one book on weight loss and read a little bit each day. You don’t have to follow any of the tips yet, just read it. Just reading about how to lose weight, typically gets people motivated to make changes. (You can find my diet book, The High-Five Diet, on Amazon for $14.95).
- Exercise daily. Ideally, you would do some sort of cardiovascular activity like walking for 30-60 minutes 3-4 days a week, work on flexibility, such as a yoga at least once a week; and weight train 2-3 days a week, to start. For many people, just the act of exercising make them more motivated to make better food choices.
- Pick a date that you’d like to start changing your eating habits, and circle it on your calendar. Put bi-monthly reminders on your phone or computer that reads: “Starting healthy eating habits today!” This will remind you that good changes are coming.
- Buy cookbooks that are designed for healthy eating, with the calories listed. (You can check out my cookbooks on Amazon: The High-Five Diet, and Slimming Dairy-Free Smoothies & Desserts). Each meal should contain no more than 500 calories. Look through the cookbooks, and flag the ones you want to make when you start your diet.
- Tell everyone you know, the exact day you’re starting your diet, and that you’d like them to support you in your efforts.
- Buy clothes that are attractive that fit your current body. There’s no reason to wait until you lose weight to look and feel good about yourself right now.
- Anytime a negative thought about your past weight loss failures comes to mind, like “you’ve done diet programs before; they don’t work,” or “you’ll never lose weight,” or “you’ll lose it, but you’ll gain it back and be even fatter,” stop. Remind yourself that you are strong. Other people have lost weight so you can too. This time is different because you’re dedicated and you’re trying a new method (such as the steps outlined here). Being positive has a profound effect on your results, so assume you will succeed.
- Ask a fit person over 30, who cares about the food choices they eat, how they refrain from giving in to cravings. Remember that everyone can be overweight if they eat too much, and most people like to give advice, and will be honored that you asked for their opinion. You’ll find that everyone has trouble saying no to treats and overeats from time-to-time.
- Search out restaurants and food prep companies for healthy options that you can go to when you start your diet so you have that information ready when the time comes to start your new diet program.
I acknowledge that this list is quite long, but, be assured that you can take your time. It’s okay to pick a date to start your diet, six months or even a year from now, but it’s really important to pick a date, and stick to it. Know that you’ll slip up, but dieting, or transitioning to healthier eating, which I prefer, is something that is an ever-changing work-in-process. I started my weight loss by cutting out Top Ramen noodles and Jimmy Dean sausages; I could never have eaten as clean as I do today, back then. The trick is to keep trying, never give up, and be as consistent as you can.
Photo: Yep, that’s me. Making healthier food choices was not easy for me, but having fruit ready to grab, and not having candy in the house, made a big difference in how I felt.