Now, make a plan that works for YOU.
Whether you have decided to make a change in your diet or exercise (or maybe both), you need to set a goal and make a feasible plan to achieve your goal. You need to create a destination.
Once I decided it was time to make my change, I created two goals – one to start eating healthier and the other to get back into running. As I mentioned previously, I was working crazy hours at two different jobs as well as having the usual wife/parent duties. My plan needed to be reasonable and work for my schedule. I wanted to succeed this time around.
First off, I chose an eating plan – for me, I went for a plan based off of the Ketodiet. I researched the diet, jotted down recipes and shopped to prepare myself for the change. Preparation is important for success! I made sure I had appropriate snacks around in case I needed something quick and wasn’t tempted to have a bad choice. Another very important tool in my eating plan was tracking my intake/outtake. Do yourself a favor and download a food tracking app on your phone – many people use MyFitnessPal or LoseIt!. I hear many people say, “I don’t eat that bad” and rattle off their daily food choices which may not sound too bad. However, I truly don’t believe you realize what you are putting into your body until you start tracking.
“Hands down, those that record their food intake in detail are far more successful than those who don’t,” says Stephanie Middleberg, R.D. and founder of Middleberg Nutrition in NYC. “It shows a level of commitment, mindfulness, reflection, and honesty.” (Shape Magazine, June 1, 2015).
Your app should have you enter in personal information to inform you of how many calories you will need per day based on your overall goal. My plan included a goal of losing 2 lbs per week until an ideal weight I had selected.
A few pointers:
- Be honest with serving sizes. In the beginning, get a scale or the measuring cups to become familiar with how much your chicken breast weighs or how many berries you consumed.
- You may not have to create every meal. Often, another user will have entered something similar to what you have eaten – check to see before starting to enter all the details.
- Try to enter your intake after you consume. I found it much easier to take a couple minutes after each meal to enter in to my app rather than waiting until the end of the day. In the beginning, it may take some time to track, but over time you will have built up your food library and it should be easier.
- Review at the end of the day. Especially when you first start, take time to look at the breakdown of your day. How many calories did you eat? How many grams of fat? Protein? Carbs? The app makes it much easier for you to see where you may be getting off track.
- Don’t forget to add in your exercise!
“I promised myself at least 30 minutes to exercise and scheduled this time into my day just like any other item I needed to accomplish.”
Alright, my eating changes were underway and I started to think about exercise. Being a former runner, I knew I wanted to start running again to help with my weight loss goal. At this time, my son was starting the spring session of the local kids’ running club. Each Tuesday and Thursday, my husband and I decided to walk/run (definitely was more walking!) during practice and then 1-2 other days/week, I promised myself at least 30 minutes to exercise and scheduled this time into my day just like any other task I needed to accomplish.
Future posts will go into more detail about sticking to your plans and dealing with obstacles, but for today I want you to focus on creating your goal. Take some time and think about where you’d like to go; what you’d like to do.
Create a S.M.A.R.T. goal:
- Specific: I wanted to lose weight over the next year and be able to run a 5k without walking. I would work out at least 3 days/week and change my eating habits by watching my calorie and carbohydrate intake.
- Measurable: My initial weight loss goal was 40 lbs. I also had a daily caloric intake goal and a number of carbohydrates I would not exceed per day.
- Attainable: I felt my goals would be achievable as long as I prepared and planned accordingly.
- Realistic: Scheduling 30 minutes to exercise and having the app to track my intake/outtake helped my goal be relevant to my life.
- Timely: Commit to a deadline. At a weekly goal of 2 lbs. weight loss, my plan would take approximately 9 months. Be flexible to keep your morale high as there may be setbacks. Have mini deadlines within your overall timeline.
Remember, the same plan will not work for everyone. The diet or exercise regimen your friend was successful with, may not work for you. Research and decide what will work for you. Be flexible and realize you may need to adjust along the way.
Today is a new day; a new beginning. Set your destination.
Until next time,