After the Good Morning America segment aired on Monday, I was so thrilled to receive so many emails this past week, and the topic that came up the most was “How do I start a weight loss plan?” It can truly be a daunting task, especially if you need to lose a substantial amount of weight and you are starting from ground zero. I have found that in the past, I would become paralyzed with inertia at even the thought of where to start. The truth is, the more difficult you make it, the less your chances are for succeeding. The only way to finish something is to start it! Keep it simple. You need to start somewhere. And most importantly, you must have a plan.
1.) Get real. Be honest with yourself - and commit to it. I can still remember the moment I knew I needed to make a change. Not those dozens of moments when you are talking to your girlfriends and complaining, “I really have to do something about my weight!”, or, when you’re struggling to find an outfit for the night and squeeze into your jeans, barely zipping them while cursing and muttering, “I really need to go on a diet!”. I am talking about that cold light of day sobering moment when you feel in your gut that you need to do something and the strong temptation to stay where you are is nothing compared to the fire you feel rising within you, to make a change. It’s usually a quiet realization. It’s a real moment and you don’t forget it.
2.) Figure out your food. This one point can be so very involved and crucial that people have written books on it. Don’t make it too complicated. There are 2 things you absolutely need to do regarding food especially in the beginning phase of your journey. The first: Decide food is fuel. Sorry if I offend you, but in order to get results you can’t be romanticizing pizza, french fries, or chicken cordon bleu. You need to look at it scientifically. Food fuels your body, period. You need protein, a little bit of good fats, and some healthy greens and fiber. You need to change the way you look at and feel about food. Food is going to help you survive your workouts and aid in your recovery. Food is not your lover or your friend. Food is there to assist you. Don’t let it derail you.
The second: Always be prepared. If you’re a mother, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Remember those days when you carried around cheerios, string cheese, or goldfish for your toddlers, in case they needed a snack? Well, that’s exactly what you need to do for you. You never want to be in the position where you’re out and about and starving and you make a bad choice out of desperation. We have all been there. Take the almonds and apples with you. Find a good protein bar, and always make sure you have a couple in your bag. I’m a big fan of choosing real food over a bar if I can, but nowadays there are some terrific healthy options you can have and it sure beats breaking down and grabbing the chips or fast food.
3.) Sweat it out. There is no substitute for sweat, however, people have such very different likes and dislikes when it comes to fitness. I’ve said this before in my article titled “What is the best workout for your body?”, and it's truly important. Whatever exercise or program you enjoy doing and you can stick to, is the best one. Is it group fitness? Is it working solo in a gym, or with a friend, or with a trainer? What is it that will motivate you on those days you just can’t imagine putting on a sports bra? I do have some very strong opinions (big surprise!) on what you absolutely must do in terms of sweat - whatever path you choose to take. 1) Start slowly. The absolute worst and most disheartening thing that can happen in the beginning of this amazing journey is that you injure yourself. Too many people launch themselves headfirst into a rigorous program when they just yesterday were couch potatoes, and after a couple of weeks they are sidelined for a month or more with an injury. Even myself, if i’ve taken time away from my program, I like to follow a simple pattern of 2-1-3-1. So 2 days of exercise, one day of rest, 3 days of exercise, another day of rest. If you find this is too much, workout every other day and rest two days after the third day. You will not regret this, and its always easier to ramp up than it is to sit out. 2) Get help! If you don’t know what you’re doing, or even if you think you know, you need to get a professional involved. A lot of gyms and studios offer complimentary first time sessions. I firmly adhere to and believe that H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training) which utilizes both cardio & strength training is the best and most efficient form of getting leaner and fitter. Learn proper form, learn proper technique. These things will serve you well for a lifetime. 3.) Invest. There really is no way around this. Whether it’s buying a ten pack of Barry’s Bootcamp classes, joining your local YMCA, or investing in a jumprope, resistance band, and a couple of free weights, you must have something which you have spent your hard earned resources on to call your own when you need to workout. Be smart about this step, and do it after you’ve decided which sweat path you’re going to take.
I could write a book when it comes to beginning a weight loss journey. But truthfully, these 3 steps are the cornerstone of it all. Your heart, your food, and your sweat. That’s it. Everything else stems from those 3 things. The simpler you make this, the higher your chances of success. You got this!