You Must Have a Plan

Every journey needs directions, and the ones who will find their way to the destination are those who are prepared for a hard, rocky journey.

These individuals will take into account that the going isn’t always going to be easy – there are many terrains, boulders and hills standing in the way.

It is exactly the same for someone wanting to lose weight. Throw yourself in unprepared, and you will soon be returning home defeated. If you are serious about achieving your exercise goals, you must have a game plan set out.

This game plan must be realistic – losing 10 kilograms or dropping your body fat percentage by 5% in a week is both unrealistic and often detrimental to your goals.

You must acknowledge what your limitations are, as well as how hard you can push yourself. Recognise your body type and shape – if you are under 5 foot tall and stocky, you won’t be walking down the catwalk anytime soon.

It can be tough, especially when the media focusses on what the ‘perfect’ body should look like. We are starting to see a shift in this thinking, with role models embracing a ‘natural’ look – refusing to fall into the line that is often expected.

The truth? Chances are, you won’t end up looking like Cindy Crawford or Brad Pitt. Most of us simply do not have those body types. You need to overcome aiming for an unrealistic and unachievable body shape, and embrace your body for what it can be.

Instead of hating your body when you are carrying extra weight, learn to love it and recognise that you can change it. You need to do this before you can move forward on your journey.

Just think: If you have hated your body for a while now, but has it helped? Have the kilograms kept creeping on? If you hate your body, you won’t do all in your power to protect it and make the most of it. If you start to love your body, you will start to work harder to keep the weight off.


Setting Your Goal

The best way to set your ideal goal is to ask yourself what you really want. What are you looking for? What would you like to achieve? Is it purely weight loss, or do you want to achieve a high level of fitness too? Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to reverse your health condition?

To set yourself a plan, you must be perfectly clear about what you want. You must be smart about it:

S – Specific
Be crystal clear about what you’ll do and where you are going.

M – Measurable
For your own sake, and for measuring your progress, you will need to get the exact numbers. Have your weight, measurements, body fat percentage and blood pressure measured. Try on your ‘skinny’ clothes, and use these as a comparison.

A – Achievable
You must be able to achieve your goal. Take into account time restraints, such as work, family life and other committments.

R – Realistic
Be realistic. Aiming to lose twenty kilos in two weeks is definitely not realistic. Aim to lose 1 or 2 kilograms a week if you are extremely overweight, however concentrate on your health first rather than the numbers.

T – Time
Once you’ve set your ‘ideal’ weight target, you will need to calculate a day-by-day, week-by-week plan, including how much weight you plan to lose, what you will eat and how you will exercise.

The words ‘want’ and ‘try’ should never appear on your plan. The difference between ‘wanting’ and ‘going to’ will mean either failure or success. Use positive terminology like ‘I’m going to lose ten kilograms’ – you will find it easier to attain your goals rather than just ‘wanting’ to lose it.


1. Jump on The Scales

Though your overall weight is not the best indication of weight lost, it is still important to measure. If you really want to know exactly how much fat you are losing and how much muscle you are gaining, invest in a set of Body Fat Scales. These will measure your fat and muscle percentages, as well as overall weight and even hydration levels.

Ensure that you keep track of these measurements in a journal. Try to measure yourself at around the same time everyday.


2. Strap on the Tape Measure

Next to the scales, a tape measure might be the most dreaded thing in your life, however it is a vital tool for your weight loss goals.

Measure your chest, hips, thighs, waist and arms. Be accurate, and don’t pull the tape measure too tightly. As with your weight measurements, record the tape measure measurements, and make sure that you do it the same time each day.

Chest: For females, run the tape measure across nipple level with the bra on. For men, do the same (minus the bra!).

Waist: Measure around the belly button.

Hips: Measure your hips at the widest point.

Thighs: Measure the distance from the tip of your pelvic bone (iliac crest) down to the side of the knee joint.

Arms: Measure from the tip of the shoulder joint down to the elbow. Halve the distance, and draw a mark. Now wrap the tape around the mark to measure. Do the same on the other arm.


3. Take a Photo of Yourself

Take a photo of yourself wearing normal clothes, and if you’re bold enough – take one in your underwear. Try taking a few from the side also, as this can often be a better indication of weight lost.

Also, if you have bought ‘benchmark’ clothes (clothes that you would like to fit into), take a few pictures wearing them. It will feel great to see a comparison when your journey is over.


4. Invest in a Calorie Counter

Counting calories is never easy, however the more educated you are, the easier it gets. A calorie counter is a book (preferably Australian) that lists the exact calorie counts for most foods.

In order to achieve your weight loss goals, you will need to know exactly how much fuel you are taking on board, and how much you are burning.

Once you get into a habit of checking calories (and because most of habitually eat the same foods), it becomes easier.


5. Make a Calendar

Make yourself a large calendar, and place it somewhere you will see it everyday. Use it to mark your target weight week by week, month by month, until you reach your goal weight.

If you plan to lose a kilogram every week, mark it down. Try to be realistic though about how much weight you can lose (and don’t mark down 10 kilograms for every week!)

For expected weight loss, refer to the following table:

Your weight Expected weight loss per week
Less than 100kg 0.5 – 1.5 kg
100 – 129 kg 1.5 – 3 kg
More than 130 kg 1.5 – 5 kg


6. Plan Your Work-outs

The key to reaching your goal is to plan your daily workouts. Write them in your diary, mark them on the calendar and remind yourself the day before. It is absolutely critical to your success that you make the time to exercise.

It seems just too easy for everyone to say “I don’t have time”. That is rubbish. If you have chosen to undertake this weight loss journey, you will need to give 100% – not 75% one day and 10% the next.

Start by setting your alarm clock earlier. Morning training is great because not only can you exercise uninterrupted, but it is also biochemically better for weight loss because your glycogen stores are depleted, and your body must turn to fat to burn as a fuel source.

Book your training time in as an ‘appointment’ that cannot be missed. If anyone asks, tell them that you simply cannot skip the appointment. People are likely not to ask what kind of appointment it is, and even if they do, your training allotment is just as important as any other meeting.

If you sit behind your desk until 7pm at night, restructure your day to include exercise during your lunch break. Most workplaces are very understanding of efforts to lose weight.


7. Get Support

It is so important to have a network of friends and family to support you. You simply must tell them that you are undertaking a weight loss journey, and try to get them to understand how important tis is to you.

You will need to be bluntly honest with how you are feeling, why you want to lose weight, and don’t be afraid to ask for their help and support. They will need to understand about the change in diet, and your exercise patterns.

You may find that if you are shockingly honest with them, they will respect and support you along your journey.


8. Get Rid of The Junk

The easiest way to avoid temptation is to get rid of all the junk in your house. Anything sugary, processed or artificial has to go.

This is another reason why you need to talk to your family – if you explain to them that you have to get rid of the temptations, you are less likely to get any complaints about the lack of ‘junk’ food.

If you have children, and they start complaining, simply remember that you are the adult. if you can’t trust yourself to have a little treat for the children in the house, then simply don’t buy it. Your kids will be able to buy what they want when they move out and pay their own way.

It is your responsibility as a parent to teach your child good eating habits. They need to have well-functioning bodies and a strong sense of self-worth. Being overweight, unhealthy and unhappy is no way to start out in life.


9. Start a Journal

Though it may sound a little bit tedious, keeping a journal is the best way to keep yourself on track. Use these headings to track your progress:

Nutrition – You must write down everything you eat and drink. And that means everything. Make sure you take note on the type of foods you eat too, ie. low-fat, skim, full fat etc.

Use your calorie counter to record the calories, and add them up at the end of each day.

Feelings – Part of any good fitness and weight-loss program is learning about how your moods affect your eating habits. Write down how you are feeling everyday, your energy levels and even how motivated you are feeling.

Workouts – Write down in detail about what exercise you performed – what type, for how long, calories burnt and even how you felt during and after. What was going on in your head? Write down any incidental exercise you did too.

This journal will be like your weight-loss bible. This will help you determine which exercise is working for you, how many calories you are taking in, how many you are burning, and how your diet is affecting your moods.


10. Start a Food Diary

To succeed in a weight loss program, you need to write down everything you eat and drink normally. The first entry in your journey should be your initial measurements. This is what you will compare your end result to.

You will need to be very specific with your descriptions. You will need to record exact amounts, weights and of course, calories. The time of day you are eating is also very important, so make sure you record this down too.

During this 7 day period, make sure you don’t lie in your description. You are only hurting your chances of succeeding. Most importantly, don’t diet during this period. Make sure you eat and drink what you would normally do.

As much as you may want to jump straight into your weight loss program, recording your food, drink and calorie intake is very important.

Using your calorie counter, work out your total calories for each day and the total for the week. Have a look at what you have been eating, and determine where you are going wrong.

Calculate your total calories for the week. If you have been completely honest to yourself, and not altered your eating habits, it should be no secret why you are overweight. By cutting out all the ‘junk’, like biscuits, cakes, chocolates and chips, you WILL see a big difference over several weeks, even without the exercise.

You will need to continue this food diary in your journal, adding up the calories and assessing your progress until you reach your goal weight.