Eat healthy all year ‘round with these tips to achieving your weight loss goals
New Year’s Day offers millions of Americans the opportunity each year to hit the reset button, reevaluate where you went wrong with your goal-setting in the prior year, and note how you can improve (and stick to) your goals for the new year. For many New Year resolutioners, those goals include ways to lead a healthier lifestyle with the hope of losing some extra weight. Unfortunately, these goals rarely last more than three months into the year. More times than not, this is because the goals didn’t have a strategy to back them up. If you’ve already started to slack on your goals (you know who you are) these steps will help you get back on track – and stay focused for the rest of the year and beyond.
1. Have a plan
How can you expect to reach your weight-loss goals if you don’t have a plan in place? If you’re planning a trip across the country, you don’t just jump in the car and drive. If you did, you’d arrive at your destination hungry, tired, and potentially homeless. Spend the same amount of time preparing for your weight-loss goals as you would a long vacation. Outline the specific changes you want to make and how you plan to get there in smaller, more manageable moments throughout the year. It’s important to break out your goals into steps, rather than trying to get from A to Z in one shot. Which leads to the next step.
2. Make goals
Yes, you can assume that your New Years resolutions are goals. But they are merely dreams and wishes without the strategy and tactics to take you there. Goals measure progress. To create measurable goals, it’s important that they are SMART:
If you want to lose ten pounds this year, aim to lose one pound per month. Sounds less daunting, right? And if you actually lost a pound per month, you’d exceed your goal! Now, how will you lose a pound? You can set goals for working out a minimum of 3 times per week, cutting out bread or sugar from your diet, only eating out once per week. You can even test out all three and see what works best for your body. That’s what is so great about your goals, there yours to change and evolve.
3. Track your progress
The most effective way to reach your weight-loss goals is to hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress. This helps you avoid making excuses. You haven’t lost a pound in over two months? Take a look at your journal and see where you may have fallen short. On the other hand, tracking can also help you see how much you have accomplished. Knowing where you were when you first started versus where you are four months later can help you with feeling proud of how far you’ve come and keep you focused on sticking to it.
4. Don’t give up
It’s normal to see minimal progress at the beginning, or to reach a plateau in your progress at some point. It’s at these moments that you might feel defeated, but be patient. Major life changes, especially the ones that are worth it, take time. See it through.
5. Be prepared for lapses
Lapses, or “cheating” on your diet goals, is a normal part of the process. If you didn’t cheat from time to time, you could make yourself miserable. Take a moment to recognize that you sidetracked and don’t use it as an excuse to give up. Take it for what it is, and use it as ammunition for why you have to stay extra focused in the days to come. Be sure not to punish yourself for the lapse either. Just because you had some French fries does not mean you should skip a meal. Keep focused on the future, not the past.
6. Use your resources
Trying out a fad diet or a miracle pill is not going to help you reach, and maintain, your weight-loss goals. Rather, educate yourself on basic nutrition and understand what your body needs to function effectively. The Internet offers limitless opportunities for research. Unfortunately, this process does take time, especially when most meals with maximum nutrients requires home cooking.
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