The Best Time to Start Your Weight Loss Journey
By Sheryl Kraft
If you're trying to lose weight but dragging your feet about starting, you may be toying around with this question: When is the best time to begin?
And it's no wonder you might be pondering this, since we're approaching the start of a new year, when many people take that opportunity to start fresh and make up for their misdeeds of the past. Alas, losing weight will always remain in the top 10 New Year's resolutions, no matter what the year.
But while it's true that the new year can give you the push you need to make changes as well as the momentum to keep going, it might not hold true that the new year is the best—or only—time to start your weight loss journey.
So, is it a "There's no time like the present" moment? Or, "Now is the right time"?
Not unless you have the time, energy and burning desire to put in the work required to lose weight. You have to be emotionally and physically ready to change your mindset and your activity level. Without that motivation, you may set yourself up for failure. It's no wonder that so many people yo-yo between sizes, and drop and regain so many pounds that they can't keep count. Learn more about Why Diets Fail.
- Ask yourself: What's my personal motivation for losing weight? If it's to fit into that dress for your cousin's wedding or to wear the jeans you saved from years ago, that's simply not enough. (Of course, we all want to look good/better, but you need more of a motivation than just that.) If you're motivated to lose weight for your general health, well, that's something that will carry you through to help you make a permanent change for long-term success.
- Consider your life's circumstances right now. If your life is filled with stress, a new job, mounting responsibilities, too much time away from home or some other unstable situation, now might not be the best time to set about losing weight, which requires consistency and discipline. Of course, stress can't always be avoided and should not be an excuse for (sustained) poor eating behavior.
After a while, it might be a good idea to reexamine your stress and see if you can make room for more healthy eating and exercise. They're both natural stress relievers and may counteract the stress you're feeling!
Studies have found that foods like oatmeal, salmon, green leafy veggies and blueberries can mitigate stress and depression and improve immunity. And exercise mitigates the mental effects of stress, according to research.
- Examine your habits to see if there are some you need to change to help you lose weight. Are any of these habits leading you on the wrong path?
- Skipping breakfast (which leads to overeating at your next meal because you're so hungry)
- Eating while watching television or another distraction
- Not paying attention to portions
- Drinking too much alcohol (which loosens inhibitions and leads to overeating)
- Overestimating the number of calories burned while exercising (it's not as many as you probably think!)
- Starving yourself all day and rewarding yourself with a (too-large) meal at the end of the day
- Forbidding yourself to eat certain foods (which leads to cravings and bingeing)
- Confusing hunger and thirst
- Not getting enough sleep
- Speeding through your meals
- Keep your expectations realistic. You may be tempted to go on that diet that promises quick and easy weight loss: Eat just cabbage soup and melt off 10 pounds in a week! Eat 16 jars of baby food a day plus one regular meal and melt off the pounds! Eat ice to melt away the fat!
One word: DON'T. Most medical experts advise that losing one to two pounds per week is the safest way to lose weight and the surest way to keep it off.
- Choose a plan that fits your lifestyle. With all the diets to choose from, there are likely some you would never be able to follow and others you would have an easier time with. What's important is that you cut your calorie intake—but remember that doesn't mean total deprivation or an all-or-nothing approach.
- Go easy on yourself. That doesn't mean letting yourself go—far from it. Losing weight requires more than just saying you want to do it. It requires diligence, patience, persistence and perseverance. Being in control, caring for yourself and achieving better health are goals worth working for.
- Remember that success is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, if you expect it, you're more likely to achieve it!
- Allow yourself some slack. The occasional slip-up doesn't doom you for failure. Get right back on the course, and shed the guilt.
The best time to begin? It's when you're ready to commit to a healthier, leaner lifestyle.