So, you want to lose weight? Here are your first steps in coming up with and starting a weight loss plan that works for you.
It’s easy to find diets, but when you are trying to build a healthy lifestyle you actually enjoy living, there isn’t a one-size-fits all.
After losing 100 pounds and realizing I could still live a normal life (I don’t live at the gym and I still eat chocolate), I got passionate about helping other women build their own unique healthy lifestyle, too.
Before I dive into the steps to get you started, I want to point out a couple of things.
#1 – Your weight is not your identity.
When we start looking at your starting weight and other measurements, the temptation is to feel embarrassed, shameful, and like a failure.
These numbers measure parts of your body, not your worth.
Let your weight be your weight. You don’t have any choice other than to start right where you are and that’s okay!
You are making the choice to start making changes today. Focus your hope on your future, don’t beat yourself up about the past.
Today is a new day.
#2 – Yes, you can do this.
The beauty of creating a healthy lifestyle that is unique to you is that it will help you lose weight:
- with your body
- with your schedule
- at your age
Everyone will face unique challenges in their weight loss journey, but instead of seeing them as reasons not to even try, see them just as things you figure out how to work around.
Start By Asking Yourself The RIGHT Goal-Setting Questions
I have a 10-question Christian goal-setting process I go through every time I set a new weight loss goal that helps me lay out my main goal AND the action steps I need to take to achieve it.
These questions are Christ-centered, which help me get to the heart of the matter instead of just trying to fix my surface layer habits (that only ever works temporarily).
Should You Use A Weight Loss Calculator?
Let me start off by saying, weight loss calculators are not going to give you a magical answer. You might actually end up frustrated because they can give you different results.
I just tried 10 different calculators and got 10 different answers.
The results ranged from recommending I eat 1,000 calories a day (warning – DO NOT DO THIS!) up to 2,800 calories a day.
Quite a difference there, right?
If you use a tracking site like MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople, they have a calculator built-in, which can be helpful in tracking your patterns.
It’s possible for these calculators to give you general goals to aim for, but just be aware of the differences and make sure you aren’t aiming for something unhealthy or unreasonable (if it tells you to eat under 1200 calories a day, click away and don’t look back!).
Use A Weight Loss Tracker
It’s important to record your starting place.
I recommend recording your starting weight and also your starting measurements (chest, waist, hips, bicep, thigh).
I also have this neat little hand-held machine that calculates my body fat percentage, which is important to me since I want to be careful of losing weight AND losing muscle.
I made that mistake a lot on my weight loss journey, especially since strength training is not my favorite.
Using a weight loss goals chart is a great way to record your starting place and see your progress along the way.
I’m a huge fan of bullet journaling and they have some really fun layouts and weight loss charts for tracking your weight loss out there.
Using Smart Goals for Weight Loss
Now that you have your starting place recorded, you can work on coming up with some goals.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are trying to lose weight is setting bad goals.
Goals like this do NOT work well:
- I want to eat better.
- I want to lose weight.
- I want to exercise more.
- I’ll try to eat more vegetables.
They are all great intentions, but hard to turn into specific actions.
It’s hard to measure when you “eat better,” but you can easily track a goal like, “I am going to eat at least 4 servings of vegetables every day this week.”
The goals you set are incredibly important in your success, so spend some time coming up with goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
I have a whole post here with tips for setting the best SMART goals for weight loss.
A few questions to consider before you set your SMART goals:
- What has worked well for you in the past?
- Even if you didn’t like ALL of a diet or program, were there parts of it that worked well?
- What do foods and exercise do you absolutely hate?
- What are your favorite healthy foods and exercises?
It’s likely that your goals will make you uncomfortable. Exercising, eating vegetables, and drinking water
Start with eating the healthy foods you like and slowly broaden your horizons.
When you’re choosing workouts, try to come up with things you might enjoy. For me, that was dance workout videos and walking with friends.
It’s a delicate balance between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and designing a lifestyle you will enjoy living, but make sure you keep your preferences in mind.
Have Long-Term Dreams, Make Short-Term Goals
When you are setting your SMART goals, I recommend setting short-term goals (90 days, max).
That doesn’t mean you can’t have bigger dreams!
(These are the 4 steps that took me from calorie counting to food freedom.)
Losing 100 pounds was not going to happen in 90 days, no matter how badly I hoped it would.
You can still dream of your goal weight, no matter how far it is.
Use that dream to help you come up with your goals.
Think of your short-term goals like stepping stones that will bring you closer to your big dreams, one step at a time.
Progress, Not Perfection (One Small Change)
Speaking of doing things one step at a time, that is my favorite approach to weight loss.
If you know me at all, you know my answer to the question, “How did you lose 100 pounds?” is always:
One small change at a time.
Seriously. Ask me how I learned to like drinking water (fun fact – I didn’t like plain water until I was 25 years old).
It was never an overnight change for me.
It was leaving the last handful of Cheetos in the bag, hiding shredded carrots in my spaghetti sauce, parking at the back of the grocery store parking lot, and watering down my juice little by little.
One small change at a time, those consistent changes transformed my body and my entire life.
Weight Loss Rewards
If you are anything like me, the first reward that pops into your head for, well, just about anything is some kind of food.
- Want to celebrate a hard week of work? Let’s go out to dinner!
- I just ran a 5k? Let’s get a special breakfast afterward!
- How should we make the weekend special? Let’s go out for donuts!
Believe me, I get it. The struggle is real.
And rewards are a really good thing when you are working hard on accomplishing goals.
It’s just when you are working toward a weight loss goal, having food rewards is pretty counterproductive.
Please, don’t sabotage your progress by celebrating with junk food.
But DO plan motivating rewards for yourself along the way!
Don’t wait until you’ve lost 100 pounds to celebrate. Come up with rewards to motivate you for your short-term weight loss goals, whether that’s a couch to 5k or eating 4 servings of vegetables every day for a month.
It may come easily to some people, but I know how hard it is to change those ingrained habits. So, treat yo’self!
I have a list of over 50 weight loss rewards that are NOT food to help you plan those in along the way.
Weight Loss Eating Plan
One of the common questions I get is, “I want to lose weight, so what do I eat?”
And as much as I would love to hand you a magical meal plan that would be perfect for you, that’s not the way it works.
I tried Atkins, juicing, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, The Whole 30, and so much more, and none of those were the perfect plan for me.
So, with a lot of trial and error, I put together my own weight loss eating plan and I recommend you do the same.
That means you can watch your portion sizes, nutrients, and calories and still cater the plan to your schedule and taste preferences.
I eat a lot of one-pot meals that take less than 30 minutes of prep to fit my work schedule and my healthy diet will NEVER include bananas.
How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?
Many diets and weight loss programs will recommend you eat 1,200 calories a day.
You will lose weight eating that amount, but the goal here is long-term success, not simply going on a diet.
Keep in mind that every body is unique, but I recommend 1,500 calories a day as a more reasonable number to aim for.
I do not count calories anymore, but when I was getting started in my weight loss, I needed a number to aim for to know what was “normal.”
An average woman needs about 2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight, so an average woman would lose about one pound a week eating 1,500 calories a day.
The frustrating thing with weight loss is it’s not an exact science and your body doesn’t always spit out real-time results.
Sometimes it takes your body some time after you start making healthy changes to show your weight loss on the scale, but don’t give up!
Every healthy choice you make matters, no matter how small.
It’s okay to pick numbers to aim for and tweak them for your body along the way.
A few notes about the way I eat:
- I eat a ton of vegetables. The more I ate them, the more I liked them. I usually plan my vegetables before I come up with my main dish. Salads aren’t my favorite, but I will eat roasted vegetables all the day long. Veggies are really filling and so low calorie. Eat more vegetables!
- I focus on protein (especially at breakfast). When I was overweight, I was convinced I would have to starve myself to lose weight. I was wrong. I was just eating the wrong kinds of food. I can eat a massive bowl of cereal for breakfast and I’ll be hungry an hour later, but two scrambled eggs (with veggies in there, of course) will keep me full all morning.
- I plan my treats to control my sugar cravings. I don’t do deprivation well. As soon as I diet tells me I can’t eat Nutty Bars (my favorite!), they become the “big red button” and it’s all I can think about. I can resist for a while, but that usually turns into a binge. Now, I am very intentional about planning my treats.
- I never miss a meal plan. If I don’t plan, I reach for junk food. So, every Wednesday, I look at the grocery sales and my Healthy Dinners Pinterest board and I come up with my weekly meal plan. Fridays, I pick up groceries (and I am head-over-heels in love with the free curbside pickup at Walmart!). Sundays, I cook our breakfasts for the week (because I am NOT a morning person so thinking and cooking do not happen before my husband leaves for work).
- I track my food every few months. It is so stinkin’ easy to unintentionally let your portion sizes grow (and grow and grow) over time. To keep your portions in check, you need to give yourself a reality check every so often. Track everything you eat for a few days. It’s kind of like a reset button for me. Here are some other tricks I use for portion control.
If you are on my email list, you know I send out a weekly meal plan every week with healthy meal ideas (usually the ones I’ve been using in my own meal plans).
You can sign up for my email list at the bottom of this post if you haven’t joined yet!
And you can also check out quite a few of my healthy weekly meal plans without being on my email list.
Inviting God Into Your Weight Loss Journey
As a Christian, honoring God with my life is my top priority, but for years, it never occurred to me that God could be a part of my weight loss journey, too.
When I invited Him into my weight loss journey, it changed everything for me.
It gave me hope in my discouragement and motivated to keep going when I felt like giving up.
It reminded my that, yes, I needed to work on changing a lot of my bad habits, but it didn’t all rest on my shoulders, either.
Learning to :
It all helped me to make God the center of my weight loss journey.
If you are trying to do the same in your life, I highly encourage you to check out my ebook, Less of Me – A 30-Day Weight Loss Devotional.