Good intentions for weight loss are wonderful. Like a whole lot of folks, I swore I would start to exercise more, go on a diet, and lose those extra pesky pounds for good. Months later, I'm still deciding on the 'best' diet for me, and paying the monthly gym dues for visits that I am 'just about' to get around to. What's the hold up? I had the best of intentions to lose weight and keep it off. I never got started. According to the experts, I failed because I didn't have a specific, workable, weight loss plan.
Studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people with firm action plans were more likely to engage in goal driven behavior, (eg.weight loss). In my case, I wanted to lose weight and start a healthier lifestyle. But as you can guess, this isn't as easy as just writing down "Lose weight and exercise more", and sticking it on the bathroom mirror.
Developing an action plan is a process you must go through, really think about, clearly visualizing what you want. By answering the following questions, you can create your own weight loss and exercise action plan.
What are my goals? What, exactly, do I want to achieve? Get those ideas out of your head and on to paper. That helps to make them concrete and doable. Who doesn't like checking off lists when they get done?
There are five specific things you should keep in mind when writing down all of your weight loss goals:
1. Make your goals specific. Don't say you 'need to lose weight' or I'm 'going to lose weight', say you will do it. For example: "I will lose 15 lbs and take a walk every evening."
2. Make your exercise and weight loss goals measurable and specific. 'I'll walk on the treadmill three times a week for a half hour at a speed of 3.5 miles an hour'.
3. Write down your chosen goals. Create both short term and long term goals for losing weight. Keep a chart or journal to track progress and give yourself some encouragement as you reach your weight loss milestones.
4. Set deadlines. Make your weight loss goals not only measurable, but time specific. Set your weight and exercise goals realistically. It's hard to pursue goals that can never be attained. Unrealistic goals that never seem to be reached can add to your stress level.
5. Give yourself emotional reasons for continuing to lose weight. What moves you to action? Imagine your feelings when you succeed. What will your reward for achievement be? Write it down and plan for it.
When should you begin? How about right now! It's decision time. You can continue to dream about a healthier life style, starting to lose weight and looking better, or you can do something about it today. You can stay stuck in your rut, or you can make a change. You can put off your happiness until another day, or you can begin doing positive things now, that you know you are capable of doing.
The choice is yours. It's easy to fall into the trap of 'someday.' Someday I'll lose those extra pounds, but right now I have so many other things to take care o'f. The truth is, you will always have things to take care of, people to see, and places to go. You have to make time for a better life for yourself because you are worth it.
Now that you know how to set up a specific, goal oriented, weight loss action plan, there is nothing stopping you!