With obesity becoming an epidemic in most of the developed world due to an overabundance and easy accessibility to high caloric foods, people are scrambling for ways to stay slim and healthy. As a result there are a miriad of diet programs, pills, exercise equipment and gyms opening up in every neighborhood. These are all excellent tools (except, arguably, the pills), but despite their availability obesity (and all the health problems that result from it) is on the rise. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that many people don’t know how to use these tools effectively to meet their fitness goals. This article seeks to explain what you need to do to achieve success in the battle for weight management.
Step 1: Set a goal – Fitzhugh Dodson said “Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” And like setting the course on your voyage, your destination should be specific. You should not just say that you want to lose weight, but you should also state how much weight you would like to lose. Goals can make the process of losing weight fun. Such goals as planning to run a marathon or aiming to wear a size 6 dress or striving to bench press 100 pounds can give you a target and a frame of reference that lets you know how you’re improving. There is a rule of thumb that says that goals should be S.M.A.R.T. That stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. So, instead of saying “I want to lose a hundred pounds”, you’re going to want to say “I want to lose two pounds a week in order to reach my goal of becoming 100 pounds lighter by my next birthday (a year from now).”
Step 2: Come up with a plan – It’s easy to say I want to lose 100 pounds, but where many people fall short is not having a plan of action. Consulting with a fitness coach or a personal trainer can be helpful in this area, but if you can’t afford one, there are websites that can help. This calorie calculator lets you calculate (based on your weight) how many calories you have to consume to maintain your weight or lose weight based on your weight, heigh, age and how much exercise you do on a regular basis. Knowing this can help you to plan your meals so that you do not eat too much. There are also websites, books and diet programs out there that plan out your meals for you. You should also have an exercise regimen. You can buy exercise videos from the video store. However, if you are lacking funds there are exercise videos on youtube. And if you only use the internet at a library or a cyber cafe, there are exercise programs on PBS. If you do not have access to any of these, you can come up with your own exercise routine. Some of the most effective exercises are free and easy to do at home. You can start by running. Train yourself to run by alternating between jogging and walking every day. You can start by jogging for a minute, then walking for a minute, then jogging for two minutes, then walking for two minutes. Do this for half an hour. Do it every day, gradually increasing the length of time you spend jogging until you are able to jogging steadily for 30 minutes without walking. Remember to stretch before and after jogging! Taking up a highly physical sport like basketball, tennis or football is a good plan of action to get you burning more calories (thus losing weight). Especially if you are practicing often (like every day or every other day). In summary, plan your meals and plan your exercise!
Step 3: Measure your progress – It’s easy to lose track of how you’re doing and then get discouraged because you aren’t aware of any real progress being made, or think you’re doing good when in fact you haven’t done a thing! A good way to avoid these pitfalls is to measure your progress. There are many ways to measure your progress. One way would be to keep a “fitness log”. A journal (which could be a physical notebook or an online blog) can keep you conscious of what you’re doing and how well you are keeping up with your plan. Some things you can write down in your fitness log include: your daily intake, your daily exercises, how much water you’re drinking, how any servings of fruits and/or vegetables you’re consuming. At the end of the day you can look at how you’ve done and know if you did well or if you should try to do better tomorrow. Another good way to track your progress over time is to create a chart. Graphs and charts are a good way to visualize a large amount of data such as progress over time. You can do this by creating a spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel. You can track such information as whether or not you went for a jog today (with a 1 or a zero), how much you weigh today, how many servings of water/fruits/vegetables you consumed, how many calories you consumed, how many pounds you can bench press and much more. Then you can turn this into a graph to see visually how you’ve been doing. This can be good motivation to do better or to beat your own personal best. If you don’t have a computer, you can write all of these things down on a piece of paper (the old fashioned way!)
Step 4: Seek support – Some people like to do things on their own. Maybe they’re afraid to be teased or they don’t trust people. However, many people when taking on a huge task like trying to lose 100 pounds, need support and motivation. It might just be someone to talk to at the end of the day, or someone to go on those 3 mile runs with. You may not even want to talk about food and exercise. You may just want to share your feelings about what’s going on during the day. Bottling up your emotions can lead you to self medicate with things like alcohol, drugs or food. Surround yourself with a supportive group of people! There is a website called weightlossbuddy.com that allows you to connect with people who are also trying to lose weight. It also includes a blogging feature and ways to measure your progress. This might be an excellent tool for you! You may also want to speak with a counselor or just a friend. Many diet programs such a weight watchers have meeting where you can network with other dieters and find support. You can also do a search for Overeaters Anonymous groups in your area for guidance and support in overcoming compulsive over eating.
Step 5: Don’t give up – Unless you’re starving yourself, you should not be losing more than 2 to 3 pounds a week. At some point you may not even lose a pound for weeks, even months at a time. You may even find yourself gaining a pound or two (this might be due to gaining muscle mass). Occurences such as these may make the whole weight loss process seem unproductive, pointless and even hopeless. However, don’t give up! A wise person once said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Keep taking steps towards your goal! You are getting closer. Always remember that.
So, there you have it. You don’t have to go on the Biggest Loser to lose 100 pounds. The key is inside you. You just have to commit yourself and follow these steps. If you have any questions about anything you read today, leave a comment or do an online search on Google or Bing. There are plenty of websites and resources available on all of these topics. Be strong and never give up!