Improve your exercise routine, eat better, get more sleep; you probably already know that these are important components of losing weight. However, if you’re still struggling to make the progress needed to reach your goals, the problem may be that you simply haven’t made an actionable plan that will help you to implement these new habits into your day-to-day routine.
Knowing what needs to be done is much easier than beginning and holding on to new habits that will help you create a healthier lifestyle for yourself. In order to do so, it’s essential that you make a plan.
Before approaching your weight loss goals by heading straight to the gym or trying to completely renovate your entire diet in one day, certified athletic trainer Marisa R D'Adamo suggests that you take the following five steps—all things you can do today— which will help you to come up with an organized strategy that can help you successfully reach your goals, one step at a time.
1. Write down your goals; be as specific as possible.
Research has shown again and again that when we write down our future goals, we are more likely to hit them.
Begin by writing down short-term goals. Start with daily and weekly goals. Don’t think, ‘I need to lose 20 pounds.’ Start with something smaller, like aiming to lose two pounds per week. A week is more quantifiable and wont overload you with what may seem like a difficult or overwhelming task.
2. Quantify and schedule.
Try to make your goals reachable and not vague. For this, units of measurement are preferable. Such examples are: aiming to drink eight glasses of water a day, planning to eat four small meals and two snacks or scheduling 20 minutes of cardio. Even write down the time of day and the place where your workouts will occur. Just like with scheduling a meeting at work, it’s more likely to happen if it’s on your agenda.
3. Keep a checklist for your goals, large and small.
It is always gratifying to check a box and know you accomplished something. Next to each day, each quantifiable unit or each scheduled ‘event’, leave a box to check it off. This way you can chart your progress and keep an eye on what’s left. If you have eight boxes, one for each water you need to drink, you are more likely to notice each time you check one off that more are left. And you will be proud of yourself for your progress when you complete a task or goal.
4. Enlist assistance.
You are more likely be successful if you work with a friend that is working towards a similar goal; someone who understands and is struggling with you is always good company, and having a friend to be there for is extra motivation, too. For example, make appointments in your agenda to walk together, take an exercise class, eat a healthy lunch or even check-in via a phone call to get extra motivation.
If you don’t have a friend in the same camp, check out all the online apps available to you. A great example is MyFitnessPal.com. Here (both online and on your phone) you can track calories, exercise, write your own goals and share some great words of encouragement with a large community of users!
5. Hire someone.
Hiring a nutritionist or a personal trainer, if you can afford it, is a huge plus. Not only is it great to have a professional helping you out, but the main bonus is being accountable to someone else. You are less likely to skip a gym workout if you are paying for it, and you are less likely to eat that pastry if your nutritionist will read it in your food log!
If a nutritionist or personal trainer isn’t available to you. Try relying on the support and advice you can find online, like with the community on MyFitnessPal.com (as mentioned earlier) or by following a healthy lifestyle blog that you enjoy and can interact with.
Follow these tips and you will find success thanks to an organized plan, extra empowerment and positive feedback. It’s not easy by a long shot, but these steps will help to make it a little bit less challenging.