Whether you want to lose weight or just maintain, the first thing you want to start off with is setting some goals for yourself. The best way to know where you are now and where you are planning to be is to set a long-term goal and supporting short-term goals. So, grab yourself a piece of paper and pen and let's get started!
For your long-term goal, think about something you want to accomplish in the next 6-12 months. This can be a 30-pound weight-loss, decreased use of medications for disease, better overall eating plan, run a 5k etc. One thing I really want you to think about is why this goal is important to you. Maybe, you just want to look or feel better. Maybe, you want to fit into a certain piece of clothing. Whatever the importance is, write it down on paper. This is something that can help to keep you motivated as you begin your journey.
Next, think about some small goals that will help you to accomplish your long-term goal. Let's say you want a healthier eating plan. Some short-term goals would be to eat 3 vegetables per day or 2 fruits per day. If you want to lose weight, maybe you will start increasing your physical activity so some goals might be to exercise 30-minutes per day or get a gym membership.
After you have all your goals on paper, think about what are some barriers to you reaching your goals. These could be lack of time, lack of support, inadequate knowledge, no access to gym equipment, etc. Then, think about ways you can get around these barriers. There is always going to be something standing in your way of your goals, the key is how you will plan to push through the barrier and stand victorious on the other side.
One of the most important things with accomplishing your goals is to track your progress. You can do this in a couple of ways. You can make or download a chart with the days of the week at the top. Then, you can check off the days you met your goal. You can also journal your intake or progress in a notebook. Lastly, you can use a phone, computer or tablet to download an app to track progress. My favorite is probably MyFitness Pal. It is free and has a ton of features. There is also a community setting where you can post updates. I really like that you can scan barcodes instead of just typing it all in. Tracking helps you to see where you are now and where you are at the end of each week. Even if you didn't meet your goal like you thought, you can think about ways to improve for next week. Think positively about your progress. Negativity about your week will only make it that much harder for you to keep motivated.
Here is an example of everything all put together:
Long-term goal: Improve overall health
Short-term goals: Increase fruit intake to 2 per day. Increase vegetable intake to 3 per day. Plan meals.
Barriers: Lack of time. Unsure how to make food taste good
Ways to get around barriers: Prep meals in advance on days off. Stock up fridge with frozen cut veggies for convenience. Subscribe to a daily healthy recipe via email.
Tracking: Use MyFitness Pal to track intake.
Don't forget that this is a lifestyle change, not a diet; so if you slip up, don't beat yourself up over it!