Getting healthy is important for everyone. Eating right and exercising regularly is mandatory to improve your health, help prevent illness or injury, and improve your mood. Even though we all know this is what is best for us, it is often difficult to know where to begin. Newspapers, magazines, infomercials and even the advice of friends and colleagues can make the process seem overwhelming. It’s best to start with the basics. Here are 7 tools to help you start a successful weight loss and fitness plan. Good luck!
I am neither a nutritionist, a dietitian nor medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All medical issues or questions regarding your health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of a medical professional for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.
Develop a Plan
Before beginning any weight loss or fitness plan, you should have some idea of what your goals are. For example, you need to know how much weight you want to lose, how many days you have each week to devote to training and exercise, and what type of program is best for you. Do you want to try the Keto plan, join Weight Watchers, begin intermittent fasting or maybe you are partial to counting fat and calories? There are many methods available that can bring success, but it is extremely important that you find a plan that is healthy for you. It is always best to discuss the health benefits of the plan you are considering with your physician or naturopath as some plans, both diet and exercise, may not be beneficial to your specific situation. If you have any underlying medical issues, you could be doing more harm than good by opting for the wrong method. Once you have all of the information you can proceed to plan safely and with confidence.
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A bathroom scale is a great tool for monitoring the progress of your weight loss plan. When you start your journey, you can weigh in so that you have a clear starting point. From here you can set a target weight loss goal and a time frame in which to achieve it. Remember to set your expectations at a reasonable rate. Most dietitians say that you should never plan to lose more than 2 pounds per week.
Once you know where you are and where you want to be, you can set a regular weigh in time to monitor your progress. This keeps you informed and on pace. Often when we don’t weigh in, we are not aware of any progress or lack thereof.
Many food plans measure food in ounces. If you read the nutritional information on a bread bag you will see that it labels the serving sizes in ounces or grams, and in brackets says 2 slices. Now picture a loaf of bread. The end pieces are significantly smaller than the middle piece. How can they possibly have the same number of calories?
Other foods, such as meat, vegetables and fruit are not purchased or grown in specific sizes or weights. The mathematical equation used to calculate the nutritional value is often based on weight. To accurately count your calories, fat or point value, you will benefit from using a kitchen food scale.
A fitness tracker measures exercise, activity, heart rate, calories burned and sleep levels. Whether you choose a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other, it will help to monitor your progress. You can see your weight loss progress by logging your weigh-in totals. If you choose a tracker that allows you to log your daily food and can accurately track daily food intake and nutritional breakdown of your food choices. A tracker that has a scanner will automatically populate the foods you choose by scanning the bar-code.
Keeping track of your nutritional values is important. Calories and fat may be key to weight loss, but you have to ensure that you are getting all of your nutritional needs as well.
Write Your Thoughts in a Journal
It is a good idea to journal your daily activity. While the physical facts can be detailed on a Fitbit or other tracker, your feelings, daily events, life events and stresses are not measurable on an electronic device. Your thoughts and emotions often have a bearing on your personal care.
Stress can cause many people to binge eat. Others stop eating altogether. If you are really busy you may not have time to make proper meals, or get in a work out. Writing these down will help you to understand your own eating and exercise habits and how your day to day life affects them. The ability to see a direct correlation between your moods and your weight loss or physical activity progress helps you to better understand your own needs. This tool will also help you to learn to adjust and cope with other parts of your life so that you are able to stay on track.
An example of this might be if you find that work, family or other responsibilities consistently make it difficult to make a healthy meal on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, you could opt to prepare meals for these days in advance and freeze them. This will not only reduce the pressure to get dinner on the table on those days, but it will keep you from resorting to fast foods.
Free Weights and/or Ankle Weights
A set of light weights can increase the effects of your exercise plan. If you are walking, a pair of ankle weights will increase your work, therefor increasing your calories burned. Carrying weights and moving your arms while you walk will work your upper body as you move along.
If you are doing resistance training, a set of weights in hand helps you to increase the amount if resistance and will work your muscles even more. Each 5lb weight provides added exercise while doing the same movement.
Implementing a light weight lifting routine into your arm workouts can help you to tone and define your upper body. The weights don’t have to be very heavy to increase the effects of a workout.
You should be wearing proper footwear with strong ankle and arch support. If you are walking or running this is especially important to reduce impact on your joints and your feet. Excessive walking and running can cause back issues, leg issues and even foot pain if you are not wearing proper shoes.
Water is one of the most important elements of a health and fitness plan. You should be consuming plenty of water daily to avoid dehydration. It also helps to make you feel full so you are not hungry throughout the day. It boosts energy and helps to flush toxins out of your system to improve health. Carrying a refillable water bottle with you throughout the day provides easy and consistent access so you are sure to consume enough each day.
Safety is important for all meal and fitness plans. Even a diet or workout plan that worked for you five years ago, may not be what is best for you now. Your body may have changed. You may have physical challenges or medical issues that you didn’t have before. Improper or extreme dieting and workouts can do more harm than good. Always make sure to consult a medical professional to be sure your plan is what is best for your current individual needs.