Getting started on your weight loss journey can feel absolutely daunting. However, instead of trying to solve everything upfront, it's often an easier start by identifying smaller things you can do right away that will allow you to take practical steps to losing weight naturally.
Obviously, the very first thing you need to do is identify WHY you want to lose weight. As with any goal, a well-defined and documented reason will not only reinforce your goal in your mind, but it will also be a great reference when the will-power runs low.
Here are two additional articles on understanding the mindset of weight loss:
- More Than 100 Pounds to Lose? Your First Steps to Weight Loss
- Recognizing the True Cost of Being Overweight
Once you’ve defined your WHY and decided you’re ready to get started tackling the weight problem, here are some practical steps to losing weight naturally –
Focus on Small Changes
It’s important that you focus on small changes at a time. If you try to completely uproot your life and change everything in a single day, you’ll have a tough time sticking to your new lifestyle.
There is no award for figuring everything out on day one, so give yourself some grace and aim to make one small change at a time. It’s better to build on your changes than to crack under the pressure of changing everything at the same time.
Here's an article on how Ellis (admin for this website) made smaller calorie changes to his diet that resulted in him losing over 100 pounds in less than 1 year:
You don’t have to do everything at once, but there’s something you can do every day!
Love Yourself and Eat Well
Eat like you love your body. If you view a “diet” as torture, that’s exactly what it will feel like. Shifting your mindset to view your new eating habits as self-love will make a much more positive impact on your weight loss journey.
Choose an eating pattern that is doable for you will increase the longevity of your success. If you’re a meat and potatoes type of eater, a vegan diet probably isn’t for you. Do some research, find something that looks and sounds enjoyable to you, and make a commitment. You don’t have to even commit to a certain style of eating, such as Paleo or Keto.
Counting calories is a reliable way to monitor your food intake without restricting any certain types of foods. There are a variety of free calorie tracking apps available.
When you're thinking about a meal plan to lose weight, opt for the foods that you enjoy, and foods that do your body good. There are plenty of healthy food choices. You're bound to fall in love with some. Check out Favorite Healthy Foods that Make Losing Weight Easier.
Drink More Water
One of the easiest things you can do to jump start your weight loss is to increase your water intake. There are a lot of ways to get your water in these days, but a great place to start is to purchase a large water bottle. A water bottle that is 32 ounces would only have to be filled four times per day to get you to a full gallon.
A helpful tip to make drinking that much water easier is to use a straw. It seems like a silly small thing, but not having to unscrew a cap, or remove a lid makes your water much more accessible. The more accessible your water is to you, the easier it will be to drink.
There are a lot of great reusable water bottles and straws on the market now, treat yourself to a fun cup that you’ll love to carry with you everywhere! Try to find one with a handle or that will fit easily into a cup holder.
Easy Extra Walking Steps
Every morning when you show up for work, don’t automatically take the closest spot to the door. Park at the end of the lot and get an extra hundred steps in to start your day.
Select to pay inside when you go to the gas station instead of paying at the pump. Park at the end of the lot when you head to the grocery store. Be a good human and return your cart when you’re done.
Walk the perimeter of the grocery store before you start making your selections. Shopping the edges of the grocery store tends to put you in front of the healthy and fresh whole foods as well. When you take this approach, you’ll get extra steps and make better food choices.
You can apply this tip to anywhere you go. Think of all the places you go in a day or week. This is a great step to losing weight naturally by getting in more steps
Just Get Up and Move
Exercise can feel extremely intimidating. Maybe you haven’t worked out in months, or even years. That’s completely okay. You don’t have to pick up and run a marathon to lose weight, quite the opposite actually.
Start by going for a walk. We’re not pushing for records here, just movement. If you can only make it to the end of your street before you’re out of breath, that’s totally fine. The important thing is that you’re taking action. Strive to go further each day.
Walk outside if possible, treadmills can get boring and you don’t want to get burned out quickly. When the weather is nice, look for hiking trails or scenic routes to make your workout fun. Fresh air and a little vitamin d from the sun can even uplift your mood.
During bad weather, treadmills are still a great option. If you plan to walk for an extended period of time, read a book or watch your favorite show while you do so. The time will pass much more quickly this way.
Many shopping malls welcome walkers as well, and during the winter it can be nice just to get out of the house. A change of scenery can make your workout more enjoyable.
Mix it up!
If you’re ready to move on from walking, mix it up! Join a gym, and ask staff to assist you if you’re unsure of how a piece of equipment works. Don’t worry about feeling dumb, that’s why they are there! You may even consider hiring a personal trainer to help keep you accountable and create workouts personalized to your goals and current fitness level.
If the gym isn’t your thing, there are a ton of great home workout programs out there, both paid and free. YouTube even has a wide variety of workouts, from dance fitness to guided circuit training.
Make it Enjoyable
Find something that you look forward to doing, and make it exercise. Do you love to play basketball? Look for a local recreational league to get you up and moving. Being with other people and involved in a team will help you with accountability.
Try your hand at yoga, you’ll be surprised at the variety of body types you’ll see in class. Swimming combines low impact with full body work, and may be a better workout than you thought. Pilates is another low impact workout that yields great results with time.
Schedule Your Workout Like an Appointment
If you know you have to be at work every morning at 8am, you don’t just show up at 9am whenever you want, right? Or even worse, you don’t skip out entirely!
Treat your workouts the same way. If an early AM workout best suits your lifestyle, getting it done early can set the tone for your whole day. If the thought of getting up even earlier than you have to makes your skin crawl, make sure to schedule your workout first thing after work.
Going home and sitting on the couch first to “relax a minute” is a surefire way to talk yourself out of getting your workout done. If you feel too tired to get it done, do it anyways. Your workout will more than likely leave you feeling more energized than when you started.
While it’s important to prepare and have a plan, you don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Start scared, start nervous, start before you feel ready.
Find something you can do right now, and start today with some practical steps to losing weight naturally!