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Creating A Plan That Works For You
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Creating A Plan That Works For You

We all know that trying to lose weight can be a daunting task. There are so many diets and weight loss plans out there, as well as conflicting information, that it's difficult to know where to start sometimes. It doesn't have to be complicated though, and creating a custom plan that suits your lifestyle is much easier than you might think!

While I'm not a weight loss professional or even a personal trainer, fitness has been a hobby for the last ten years or so and I've spent much time researching and experimenting to figure out what works for me and what doesn't. The information contained in this article is the result of my efforts, and hopefully it can benefit others as much as it has benefitted me!

The first step to creating a weight loss plan that works for you is to sit down and map out your strategy. Rather than thinking of it as a "diet" though, try to get into the mindset that you are creating a more healthy lifestyle - focus on the fact that you want to make permanent, positive changes to your lifestyle and once you implement those changes the weight loss part should fall right into place! I find that it's much easier to stick with it if I think in these terms, rather than obsessing over sticking to some diet or other.

Get yourself a notebook or binder and jot down some notes on things you would like to add to your diet as well as things you know you need to cut out. Also, write down your goals, then break them up into smaller, more manageable goals - such as sticking with your eating plan and exercise regimen day by day. I always keep a calendar, and make a red "X" when I stick to my eating for the day and a blue "X" when I fit in my planned workouts. It sure is motivating to look at each week and see the days full of both red and blue "X" marks! Once you've written down your goals and decided on some lifestyle changes you want to make, you can move on to mapping your nutrition plan.

Nutrition is a broad subject and can get really complicated and overwhelming once you start getting into calories and how many grams of protein you need as opposed to carbs etc. Again, you can make a successful plan without getting too much into this!

Obviously to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in each day, but if you eat proper portions this really should take care of itself as well. What works for me is breaking my daily calorie intake into 5 or 6 small meals, spaced 2 to 3 hours apart - I tend to eat my morning meals closer together (about 2 hours apart) and my afternoon/evening meals about 3 hours apart. I also don't really eat carbs after 4pm, but that's a personal thing and each individual should experiment to see what works best for them.

Start out by building your meals with a portion of lean protein, a portion of complex carbohydrates and a vegetable. As far as portion sizes, I keep my proteins about the size of my palm, my complex carb portions about the size of my closed fist and my fibrous vegetables about that size as well. I don't add vegetables to every meal, for at least 3 of my meals per day. Do some research online to find out good sources of lean proteins, complex carbs and fibrous vegetables, make a list and create your meal plans around these foods!

One big tip I have as far as sticking with your eating plan is to cook a bunch of stuff at one time, then create and freeze meals in the correct portions so that you can grab a meal and take it to work, for an easy dinner etc. Trust me, it makes life a whole lot easier - especially when it comes to sticking with your plan at work!

Allow yourself one "cheat" meal per week though where you enjoy one of your old favorites that may have been cut from your diet, or just something that you've been craving - it helps mentally, and makes it a little easier to stick with the healthy eating the rest of the time!

The topic of water consumption is one that's widely debated these days, but as a general rule I've found 8 to 10 cups per day works for me. Again, experiment and see what feels right to you - try for a minimum of 8 though because hydration is very important and soda doesn't cut it once you're on the path to a healthy new lifestyle!

How should you go about adding exercise into your plan and what kind of exercise should it be? Again, different things work well for different people and it's a matter of experimenting. The one given is that you definitely should exercise! A mix of weight training and cardio works best for me, and it's also what I enjoy most. Incorporating weight training into your routine three times a week is very beneficial though, as it helps firm and tone your muscles and burn fat. I think that adding three cardio sessions a week (on the days you don't weight train) is a good balance and helps optimize fat burning as well. I always take one day a week off from training, to let my body recover.

There are a lot of variables with exercise though, and again it's just a matter of trying different things until you figure out what fits best with your schedule and works for you. Not everyone has access to a gym or weights, but just about everyone can get outside and walk or run! There are lots of ways to get your exercise in - hiking, biking, swimming... Aim to add some of these activities into your daily routine 5 to 6 times a week for 30 to 40 minutes at a time and you'll already be burning more calories than you did before you decided to embrace a more healthy lifestyle!

Supplements are the last topic I'd like to touch on with this article, and I really don't have a whole lot to say. I think that you can get most of your nutritional needs from whole foods, if you're making good choices as far as what you're eating. One thing I do add to my diet though and would recommend investing in if you can is a good protein powder. It makes life that much easier when you have to eat on the run and you can just mix up a shake in a blender bottle and go! I also find I can't eat enough whole foods a day so protein shakes instead of a couple of meals help with that. Once again, you just have to try some of the choices out there until you find one you like! My general rule is to stick with a protein powder that's low in sugar and carbs if you're going to use one.

Just from adding some exercise into your daily routine and changing your eating habits a little you should start to see some results fairly quickly. Keep in mind though that weight loss is a slow process, especially once you get past that first week or so where you dump a bunch of water weight and see the scale drop!

Consistency is the key to getting results and keeping the weight off once you lose it, so create a plan especially for you and that you feel you can incorporate into your daily life and stick to. Don't stress if you miss a workout or have an extra cheat - just pick up right where you left off and keep moving forward. After a few weeks, your new eating plan and exercise routines will become habit and it gets easier and easier to check off the days with red and blue "X" mark!. After a few weeks of eating "clean" and exercising you will be feeling so great about your healthier new lifestyle that you'll never want to go back to those old, unhealthy habits!


Street Talk

Garry2  

Great article rachel6, I really like your idea about preparing a bunch of food in advance and freezing it in proper portion. That is a very helpful idea. You seem very knowledgable about your subject, so I hope you will continue to write and share your knowledge with others. I also hope you get a site going at some point, if that fits into your life.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Thanks Garry2! I'm in the process of building a site right now... just researching and learning. It's a whole lot of fun, that's for sure!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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