How to Lose Weight in Five Steps

Karen Frazier
woman excited on scale

The perennial question, "How To Lose Weight?" has been the center of research for decades. There are dieting tools in the form of pills, books, programs and foods. What are the best tools to lose weight and how to incorporate these tools into today's highly marketed, advertised food-pushing environment? While there is no perfect plan for everyone, the following information will help you decide how to lose weight according to your specific needs.

Real or Myth

First, it is important to remind yourself companies are in business to make money. With this in mind, it is best to stay clear of any marketing that sounds too good to be true. If claims of easy or simple, fast or rapid, guaranteed, no dieting necessary, or similar statements are made, most likely it is not the plan for long-term success at weight management. It has long been known that reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity is one proven ways on how to lose weight safely and effectively.

Step One: Set Realistic Goals

As with any action plan, setting realistic goals is key to motivation and determination.

Make Goals Realistic and Achievable

If your goals are unrealistic, you are unlikely to experience success, which can be disappointing and de-motivating.

  • Use tools, such as a height, age and weight chart, a BMI chart, or an ideal weight calculator to determine a realistic goal weight, keeping in mind if you are especially muscular or have a larger frame, you may need to adjust the number up to remain realistic.
  • Aim for somewhere in the middle of your ideal weight, not at the very bottom number. You can always adjust this number down later.
  • Keep time frames realistic. A steady loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week is the safest, healthiest and most sustainable rate.
  • Remember, plateaus happen. Be patient with yourself and deploy strategies to break through the plateau if it lasts more than a few weeks.

Set Long- and Short-Term Goals

Your long-term goal provides you with a roadmap of where you ultimately want to be, while short-term goals can keep you motivated and moving forward.

  • Short term goals: These are the goals that keep you going from day to day, week to week, month to month. Keep these goals realistic and attainable. This is how to lose weight to your advantage. If your goals are too lofty here, say a ten-pound weight loss in two weeks, you may be likely to set yourself up for disappointment. It is much better to reach your goals and feel good about it than set high goals but miss them completely.
  • Long-term goals: This goal is your ultimate goal. You can express it however you wish, but keep in mind your final goal is expressed as a weight or clothing size may not be your best strategy. While this can certainly be part of your goal, set your sights on the big picture, which incorporates making permanent, healthy lifestyle changes.

Use Goals as a Motivational Tool

Losing weight is much more about the mindfulness and thought process than simply saying no to dessert. Keep your goals at the forefront of your mind whenever you encounter temptation. For example, if you are at a party and there is a dessert table piled high with all your favorite chocolate indulgences, saying no will be easier if you are mindful of your goal to fit into that bathing suit in a couple weeks on your cruise to Jamaica. If you're not going on a cruise to Jamaica, remind yourself of how important your health is to your quality of life and how getting those extra pounds off will dramatically reduce your risk of several harmful health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Step Two: Seek Support

This step is critical to determining how to lose weight for you.

  • Join a local weight loss or fitness group.
  • Gather a friend or group of friends to join you on your journey. Sharing goals with others and progressing together may motivate you.
  • Join your workplace wellness program.
  • Tell your family what you are doing and ask them to support you. Tell them specific things that would make you feel the most supported (such as not bringing home a box of doughnuts for you).
  • If you are a social person, perhaps a group program like Weight Watchers, is an option.

Step Three: Make It Sustainable

The best weight loss program for you has two important aspects:

  • It works.
  • You can stick to it.

In practical terms, this means you need to find an eating plan that matches your preferences and lifestyle and a fitness regimen you enjoy. Otherwise, it will be difficult to sustain for the long-term.

  • There are many different eating plans that can help you lose weight. Evaluate each to see which most closely fits your lifestyle. For example, if you just can't give up bacon, then you may want to try a low-carb eating plan. If you prefer to have lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods, then a low-calorie plan may be your best option.
  • If you don't have a lot of time for food prep, then consider a meal delivery plan that delivers nourishing and delicious meals right to your front door.
  • Choose an exercise activity you find enjoyable. If you're not a treadmill and weight lifting type, look for unconventional forms of exercise you might enjoy, such as hiking, hula hooping, dance exercises like Zumba or Nia, or martial arts.
  • Avoid extremes. For instance, don't cut calories so low you're hungry all the time, and don't engage in exercise so strenuous you are constantly exhausted and sore. Balance is important here since you are making lifestyle changes for the long haul.
  • When you travel, have a plan. Take nutritious snack foods that fit your diet, and scope out local restaurants with menu items to help you stay on track.

If, at any time, you are not feeling balanced with these aspects of your diet plan, then reassess your approach. For example, if your food plan requires you to cook up homemade meals, drinks and snacks, yet you are not the stay-at-home type, then you may need to look into food products that are convenient for you to choose while you're traveling.

Step Four: Reward Yourself

treat yourself to relaxation

Losing weight is more than just the final result; it is also about the journey of self-discovery. When you say no to the chips or the candy bar, give yourself the pat on the back you deserve with either a reinforcing, positive statement to ourself, or that new CD you've been eyeing. Changing habits is not easy and is not accomplished overnight. It is a long process that requires encouragement along the way to keep you in track.

  • Set medium-term goals (such as a certain number on the scale or clothing size) and then plan a non-food reward for when you reach them, such as a trip to the spa or a massage.
  • Reward yourself for engaging in health promoting behaviors. For example, if you meet your fitness activity goal for the week, buy some bath salts and candles and take a long, luxurious soak.

Step Five: Never Give Up

Never use a slip as an excuse to give up. Everyone slips from time to time. In fact, progress toward goals is seldom a straight line, but it often dips up and down a little on the way. Don't beat yourself up or allow yourself to be overcome with guilt. Instead, reaffirm your goals and get right back on track before your guilt becomes a shame spiral that sinks your ship entirely.

  • Allow yourself to enjoy whatever it is you've chosen to indulge in. Feeling guilty while eating it won't be a satisfying experience, so if you've consciously chosen to go off-plan, give yourself that moment.
  • Forgive yourself. You're human. You are not weak or lazy. You slipped.
  • Put it in perspective. One slip isn't going to bring everything crashing down, and one missed workout isn't going to force you to pack on the pounds.
  • Treat yourself kindly. While you have an end goal, pummeling yourself into compliance mentally or physically will only hurt you in the long run, and it isn't sustainable.
  • Remind yourself of your short and long-term goals. Take the time to journal about your goals to reset them in your mind and remind yourself why you are doing this.
  • Plan some treats into your goals - in moderation of course. For example, try having a small piece of chocolate instead of the whole chocolate bar, or one cookie instead of the whole box.

Smart Weight Loss

To lose weight, you need to address what you eat, how you move, your habits and your emotional needs. This simple five-step plan fits in any weight loss program you choose and allows you to lose weight in a smart, compassionate way.

How to Lose Weight in Five Steps