We spend a lot of time and mental energy thinking about the best way to lose weight. What food plan should I follow? Do I need to get specialty foods or supplements to be successful? How many meals and snacks should I eat? What should I do if I get hungry? What’s the best diet for losing the most amount of weight quickly? We bombard ourselves with a million questions then wonder why the process feels so unmanageable and overwhelming.
The good news is that the principles of weight loss are simple. Staying consistent in following these principles is where the challenge lies. I started this blog to help motivate women to stay consistent with their health and fitness goals, but the question I get asked the most is: What do I do? Not, how do I do it? I want to get you started with the basic principles and structure of a sound weight loss routine. That way, you can put all those preliminary questions to rest, begin to establish healthy habits and spend more time working toward your goals.
Here are the first 3 steps I think you should take to getting started on your weight loss journey. Focus on these 3 principles, and you can stop spinning your wheels and get working on the real issue: creating manageable and repeatable healthy habits that you can do consistently, resulting in weight loss and better health.
Step 1: Choose a Food Plan
At any given time, some 49% of American adults are trying to lose weight. We try exercising, eating less food, eating more fruits, vegetables and salads, drinking lots of water and eating less junk or fast food. A majority of people use two or more of these methods to lose weight. We try various diets, including intermittent fasting, Paleo, gluten-free, low-carb, ketogenic or high-fat, and the Mediterranean diet.
So what’s the best diet to follow? Researchers have concluded that the best diet for anyone is the one they will follow to lose weight. It turns out that most diets are equally effective. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. Did I just say that most diets are equally effective at helping you lose weight? Yes!! That’s fantastic news because it means we have an answer to all those questions about the “best” diet. There isn’t one! Any of the top diet plans will help you lose weight, so the only real work here is to consult with your doctor to determine if one of these diets is better for you from a health point of view. For example, should you stay away from a high-fat diet because of your cholesterol, or should you eat the healthy fats found in a Mediterranean diet because of your cholesterol? One trip to the doctor is all it should take to whittle down the list of current diet plans to find one that works for you. Perhaps you already know which food plan would be best for you. If so, step one is taken care of. You don’t have to question it anymore, just select the plan and move on to step 2.
For me, the best food plan was a whole-foods diet. It made sense to me to eat whole, unprocessed foods, and it quickly resulted in steady weight loss. Read my weight loss story.
Now that you have an eating plan to follow, let’s move on to step two.
Step 2: Get Moving
Choose 1-3 types of exercises that you enjoy and feel you can add to your lifestyle. For example, you might choose walking and strength training. Walking is an easy cardio exercise with heart-healthy benefits. Here’s a link to my article on finding a base cardio. Strength training builds muscle and burns fat and is essential to weight loss. Read more on strength training benefits. You might want to add some stretches or yoga for joint health, better flexibility and stress relief. Again, this step is simple in principle.
Your goal here is to add exercise to your daily routine. The type of exercise is less important (for the moment). The focus should be on adding movement to each day. Start by getting 30 minutes of activity into each day—that could be walking, an upper- or lower-body strength training routine or a yoga session. After you’ve done one 30-minute workout for the day, you do another one the next day and so forth. Start to create a movement habit.
Step 3: Get Yourself on Repeat
My blog is called HodgeonRepeat because to lose more than 60 pounds in my 50s, I had to prioritize my health by putting healthy actions on repeat. Consistency was my constant. I wasn’t always perfect with my eating (and I don’t think that should be anyone’s goal), and I didn’t berate myself if I went off my food plan and ate a processed food one day. In other words, I allowed myself to make mistakes, have some wiggle room to enjoy off-plan foods when I really wanted them and stayed committed to the idea of eating my whole-foods diet consistently. Once I took the focus off questioning whether my food plan would work, or chasing down the latest weight-loss craze, I settled into a pattern that I repeated each day.
Instead of chasing a new diet or workout, I chose consistency. It isn’t sexy, and it sounds simple, but it was the daily routine of eating well and exercising that resulted in a steady weight loss rate of two pounds per week: no guesswork, no angst over the scale, just healthy eating and exercise.
Once you can say that you have been on your food plan and exercising consistently for 30 days, you will quickly realize that you are on the right path to a healthy, sane system of weight loss. And while I’ve broken down the steps into a simple 1-2-3 guide, I realize that you will have to exert tons of effort to make these steps a part of your lifestyle. No bullshit here—this takes work!
However, once you get your health routine on repeat, you will begin to see progress, and progress is highly motivating. Want to learn more about motivation and how to keep it going? Check out my ebook on motivation for weight loss. It’s packed with information on how motivation works. Understanding motivation is a perfect next step once you have these basics down.
Last, remember that you’re not on this journey alone. I’m here because it motivates me to know that I’m sharing some of my success with other women. Once I learned what it took to achieve the weight loss I had wanted since childhood, I didn’t want to keep it a secret. Drop me a comment and let me know how things are going, or connect with me on social media to see how I stay motivated to keep myself on repeat!
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