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Preparing your weight loss program

Harry Mills, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 10th 2016

Preparing a weight loss program means setting up the conditions that will make it most easily possible for you to achieve your weight loss goals. There are numerous important choices to make during the preparation stage, including the form your diet will take, how much weight you will attempt to lose, how you will keep yourself motivated to make progress towards your goals, and how you will monitor your progress.

Understand your motives

making a listAn important first step is to examine your reasons for wanting to lose weight. Are they driven by health concerns, by vanity, by shame, by a desire to move more effortlessly, by a combination of these motives. Do you want to lose weight for yourself, to please others, or a combination of these reasons. Deciding to make a lifetime commitment to diet and exercise is a big step. You will be most likely to succeed in such a program if you want it for yourself and are not merely trying to please other people. Asking these questions is part of your prior planning necessary to establish that your reasons are solid and will sustain you through the trials and efforts of weight loss. If you learn that you really don't care that much whether you lose weight or not, you may not want to invest further time in developing and committing to a weight loss program as you will be unlikely to complete it.

Decide how much weight to lose

Having decided to go forward with your planning, you need to choose a realistic and personally desirable weight loss target goal. It is not necessary that you lose all the weight you possibly could. Rather, you should lose the weight you want to lose.

Government scientists have provided guidelines that help you to know what you should ideally weigh. After figuring out your present Body Mass Index (a ratio of your weight in pounds, divided by your height in inches squared, the result multiplied by 703), figure out how much your weight needs to change in order for you to achieve a BMI between 19 and 25 (the "healthy weight" range). There is no need for actual calculation, as the appropriate weight values can be read directly off of a web-accessible chart

Alternatively, recall the lowest weight you were able to maintain for a while shortly after reaching the age of 21. This weight is likely to be the minimum weight you stand a chance of maintaining as an adult.

You will want to temper your weight goal based on your knowledge of how difficult weight loss has been for you to achieve in the past, and how large your frame is (larger boned people should weight more than smaller boned people).

Decide what diet method to use

Do a review of materials describing several popular reducing plans to decide which one appeals to you best. Keep in mind that all reducing plans work the same way, by restricting the total number of calories you eat so that you achieve a negative energy balance. Also keep in mind that the diet changes you'll need to make are permanent and will not end with you achieving your weight loss goal. You'll simply have to permanently move to a more balanced, nutritionally sound and portion controlled diet if you want to stand a real chance of maintaining your weight loss gains. Choose a reducing plan that appeals to your taste, needs and resources, and provides a sound transitional program for moving to a healthy maintainance diet. The Weight Watchers plan is a very sound choice if you can't think of an alternative you'd rather pursue.

Optimize your diet choice

Having made a reduction diet choice, use your knowledge of past diet efforts to customize it so that you are less likely to fail. Think about the things that trigger you to overeat and generate plans to address these triggers. For example, if you commonly find yourself snacking while watching television, plan to have healthy and acceptable snacks (cut carrots, unbuttered popcorn, etc.) on hand so that you won't blow your diet.

You can also help your diet efforts along by finding ways to fit your diet choices into your regular routines as much as possible. For example, it is really easy to substitute spring water or diet soda for sugared soda, or to substitute low or fat-free dairy products for the higher fat variety. Similarly, a piece of fresh fruit might take the place of a bag of chips.

Decide your diet pace

There is no need for speed in dieting, and in fact, speed can be dangerous to your health. A healthy weight loss rate is one or two pounds a week maximum. Very low calorie diets can be dangerous and the weight loss is likely to be gained back rapidly when the diet ends. Most people can safely lose weight on a simple low calorie diet of between 1200 and 1500 calories a day for women and 1500 and 1800 calories a day for men.

In addition to pacing your weight loss, consider pacing your eating speed and the amount of food you eat. Learn what a serving of a food is really supposed to be and begin to measure your food. Serve the food on smaller plates and eat slowly. Eating slowly will allow you to notice at what point you feel satiated and satisfied. If you gobble your food you eliminate your ability to know when you have become full, and end up overeating and feeling uncomfortable.

Add an exercise program

It's an excellent idea to combine your dietary weight loss efforts with an exercise program. Exercise is the key to sustained weight management. Exercise burns excess calories, reduces stress levels and consequent emotional eating, relaxes the body for better sleep and helps fight mild anxiety and depression. Moderate to vigorous exercise produces a wonderful sense of well-being. Pick a type of exercise you find workable (even enjoyable if possible) and find the time to do it regularly.


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