First, congratulate yourself on making a decision to change, then follow these detailed steps to make your new healthy lifestyle a lasting one.
1. Write down your reasons.1 of 15
Why do you want to lose weight? Whether you want to fit in your favorite clothes again, protect your heart health, lower your risk of cancer or disease or simply to feel better, write it down.
Writing down your reasons allows you to re-visit them throughout your journey, especially during your weak moments when you feel overwhelmed and want to quit.
2. Record your starting weight and measurements.2 of 15
Most of us hate the scale, but it is a necessary tool for many. Hop on the scale, write down your weight and record it once every week or every month.
Do not weigh yourself every day. If you don't want to know your number, have someone else record it for you, like your significant other or a trusted friend.
Also take measurements. Measure your arm (around the bicep), your neck, your chest, your waist, your hips and your thigh. Some weeks, the scale will not move but the inches will. Take new measurements every six to eight weeks.
Do not let the occasional weight gain or no-loss weeks get you down. Use these weeks as motivation. What can you do differently? Can you add another workout? Did you overeat? Assess and move on.
3. Hold yourself accountable.3 of 15
If you lack self-control, join a weight-loss program such as Weight Watchers to help keep you accountable. Having a receptionist weigh you in once per week (and having to pay for it) can keep you honest. Plus, you will get to meet others who are on the same journey.
At Weight Watchers, I learned invaluable tips. For example, we were challenged to sit up straight in our chairs for the entire meeting. This made me realize that I slouched often. Now I am working my core and strengthening my back when I sit.
This step may not be for everyone, but if you're looking for a more structured support system, it can really help!
4. Take a "before" photo.4 of 15
It's not fun taking the before photo. However, it does provide constant inspiration. I taped mine to my refrigerator when I first started my journey. I even taped a copy inside my pantry.
Once you get to your goal weight, seeing the difference from all your hard work is indescribable.
5. Set up an anchor.5 of 15
An anchor is something that continually reminds you how far you have come. There are several options from which to choose. I like the paper clip chain because I can make several to hang on my refrigerator, in my closet, in my food pantry and even in my car to remind me to make good choices when on the run.
My first week of my journey, I lost five pounds, so I clipped five colored paper clips together. And so forth. Watching your chain grow is fun and inspiring.
6. Educate yourself.6 of 15
Knowledge is power, and once you find out what you've really been consuming, it will be easier to stop eating it. You will quickly become disgusted and even angered over the facts that have been hidden from you for many years.
For example, I thought dairy was healthy for me. When I gave it up, I lost weight easily. I also lost my migraines, allergies and stomach and digestive problems.
Educate yourself through credible books, documentaries and Internet sites.
7. Give your kitchen a makeover.7 of 15
Get rid of processed foods and any other garbage that you know is bad for you. Be aggressive. Are you addicted to this food? Does it hold you hostage? Remove it and never allow it back in your home. Not only is it making you fat, it's hurting you from the inside. Throw it out.
Now fill your home with whole foods and fresh produce. You can do this all at once, or you can take baby steps by slowly removing and replacing these foods each day. You'll notice a change in your taste buds within a few weeks, and it'll be much easier to pitch the bad foods.
8. Give your dinner plate a makeover.8 of 15
Decrease (or remove, if you're interested) your intake of animal protein, and dramatically increase your intake of plant-based foods such as vegetable, fruits, leafy greens, raw nuts, beans and seeds. Both protein and calcium can be found in whole and plant-based foods.
An easy way to get good food in your body is by juicing or drinking green smoothies. Buy a juicer or high-powered blender and start each day with a green juice or green smoothie. Getting these greens into your body will help change your taste buds and give you amazing energy and clarity.
9. Start eating more raw foods.9 of 15
Aim for about half of each meal to be raw. You won't believe how easily you will start dropping excess pounds. This is because raw foods have all of their living enzymes still intact. While you can still get nutrients from cooked veggies, you won't get those living enzymes.
If you want to get serious about going raw, I recommend buying a dehydrator, a nice food processor, a juicer and a good blender. These changes don't have to come all at once, but if you really want to dive in, try a juice fast.
10. Decrease or eliminate alcohol consumption.10 of 15
Not only is alcohol a toxin, it can also ruin your progress. Either stop drinking altogether, or enjoy the occasional cocktail or glass of red wine…just stay away from the sugary concoctions.
Measure out your intake and stop after one or two glasses. Avoid becoming intoxicated as this not only harms your body, but also makes you want to eat unhealthy foods.
11. Take it slow.11 of 15
It takes years to become overweight, so don't expect it all to come off in a few months. Gain it slowly. Lose it slowly.
If you want it to last, take your time and do it right. Don't rush the process. Instead, enjoy the journey. Learn from the bad weeks and celebrate the good weeks.
12. Surround yourself with positive people.12 of 15
What you are about to do may save your life. If your friends aren't on board or downplay your new lifestyle, get new friends. I know this sounds harsh, but it can make or break your goals.
If your old friends' main goals are drinking, eating bad food and lying around doing nothing, then it's time to find friends who have the same (healthy) goals that you have. If you're lucky, you may inspire several of your old friends to get healthy as well.
13. Start a manageable workout routine.13 of 15
Find something you love to do. I prefer exercising outdoors, but I also love my local YMCA. The classes are fantastic: Zumba, yoga, Pilates, crossfit, running, power walking, nordic walking…the list goes on. This is also a great place to meet new, like-minded friends.
I enjoy hitting the park on nice days, strapping on my ankle weights and grabbing my hand weights for a nice, sweaty power walk. I also love workout videos. I get bored easily, so I change up my workout DVDs or YouTube videos each week.
14. Believe in yourself.14 of 15
Don't set yourself up for failure before you even start. Stop calling yourself weak without giving yourself a chance. Change your outlook to a positive one. Stop selling yourself short.
Believe in yourself. Believe that you will be successful, and it will happen for you. Your past does not dictate your future. This will work.