You’ve been reading my blog, you’ve been gathering up your courage, and now you feel like you are ready to begin your own journey? That’s so exciting! I am over here rooting for you in a BIG way.
But before you decide to start anything, I’d like you to ask yourselves some questions: Am I ready? Am I going to make time to get healthy? Or am I “too busy”? Do I have support? If not, how do I feel about that? Am I willing to change everything I know about food and my relationship with it? Can I afford to join a gym? If not, will I make a commitment to workout at home? Will I make excuses or will I find a way around every obstacle?
It’s not that you shouldn’t or can’t give it a go regardless of your answers. But you need to be realistic with yourself. I encourage you to start any time. But I don’t want you to get down on yourself. You will not be perfect. You will have stumbles. But you absolutely can do this.
Okay so have you decided? Are you REALLY ready? I hope so!
Here are the steps I followed. You’ll find more info on each of them below.
- Decide your motivation. It has to be something that will never let you go back.
- Lose any and all of your excuses. If you eat badly or don’t work out for the day, it’s on you. Period.
- Use the BMR calculator to determine how many calories you’ll eat daily. Break those down into meals.
- Figure out what healthy foods you like (sometimes by trial & error) and eat them. Pick recipes to try for dinner.
- Work up an exercise plan.
- Keep a food (& exercise) journal.
- Tell the world about your journey. And keep telling them.
Sound simple enough? Here’s some more information…
1. First, you have to decide what your motivation is.
It’s probably a combination of two or more. Some ideas:
- to be thinner
- to be healthy
- to have more energy
- to live longer
- to have a healthier family
- for your kids’ future health
- do you have another one??
I purposefully put “to be thinner” as number one because I think it’s usually what we think of first. However, I think the proceeding bullet points make the journey deeper and keep it going long-term. Because I’ll tell you what: I got super thin, and then I realized that it wasn’t enough. There is SO much more to being healthy than being thin.
2. Think about your excuses.
Decide here and now that they are all crap. I had so many of them.
- I have no time.
- I’ll start to exercise now, and then do the “diet” later. (or vice versa)
- My kids won’t eat the healthy stuff.
- I don’t have the money. Eating healthy is expensive and so are gym memberships.
It’s all junk. You make time. Do you make time to watch TV? To surf the internet? To read? To go out for drinks? That’s what I thought. Doing one without the other (gym/eating right) will not lead you to be your healthiest. Your kids WILL eat the healthy stuff. Trust me on that. You don’t have to be rich. I’m not rich. You don’t have to join a gym. It helps, but it’s not mandatory. Fresh foods do cost a little more, but cutting out the fast food will help offset that. It’s definitely manageable.
This is all about priorities. My priorities change all the time, but I am always responsible for my actions. My health journey is my own, and I can always make the “right” decisions. If I don’t, I don’t! There’s no judgment involved…I just have different priorities at the time.
3. Next, figure out your plan.
How many calories you’ll eat. The foods you’ll eat. Your exercise schedule. If you don’t need to lose weight, you’ll still need to figure out these things. You’ll want to get an idea of calories, even if you don’t plan to restrict them at all.
To determine the number of calories I needed to eat, I found a calorie calculator (below). I filled it out (I selected little/none for exercise) and went to the BMR tab. I then decided how many calories I wanted to eat daily based on the “extreme fat loss” number. I’m not suggesting you do that. Everyone is different. I had a LONG way to go, so I felt the need to be drastic.
My numbers have changed throughout my journey from 1550 down to 1200 and back up to 1800. But regardless of the total, I find it immensely helpful if you plan out your day ahead of time. That way you can easily create easy meals. It takes out the guesswork in my opinion. And if you decide to have a big meal, you can just adjust the rest of your day.
Here’s a sample breakdown:
Breakfast – 250
Morning Snack – 250
Lunch – 400
Afternoon Snack – 150
Dinner – 500
Total – 1550 calories
Regardless of the total number you choose, please be healthy and realistic. If you’re burning 3000 calories a day, you will not benefit from eating only 1200. It looks good on paper, but it’s not sustainable and it will have negative consequences. I would absolutely never recommend eating less than 1100 calories, and I personally don’t feel satisfied when I eat less than 1500 at this point in my journey.
4. Once I decided how many calories I needed to eat, I had to figure out WHAT to eat.
What do healthy people eat? I certainly didn’t know. So I asked a friend at work, and she gave me some great ideas. (I learned about avocadoes!) I also researched online. I’ve tried to do some of the work for you on my resources page. You need to take the ideas and mold them to fit your plan based on the calories.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed. I’m a list maker. And then I get overwhelmed by my lists. But they do help, and it will get easier. The ChooseMyPlate.gov site helped me a ton because I looked at each food group and learned about the different foods available. I also looked at what everyone in my family should be eating out of each group. I would be a big fat liar if I said we follow their guidelines perfectly, but just implementing some veggies and fruit into our diet has been a vast improvement!
So get a food plan in place. I like to create big lists, but I eat the same things most of the time. And I may get tired of one thing and move onto another. You don’t have to eat something completely different every day. I mean I used to eat Big Macs like 5 times a week. Just try a bunch of stuff and figure out what works for you.
I do not sit and plan out my meals for the week. When I first started, I was working full time and my wonderful husband packed my lunch for me daily. In my half-awake stupor each morning, I would tell him what sounded good for that day for my snacks and lunch. And he’d pack it. Now, I really just try to keep healthy food in the house for all of our meals. We go through spurts where we like to try new recipes, but honestly, we spend most of our time eating our favorite simple meals. You can find a bunch of recipes right here on the blog.
5. Okay, so once you have that semi-figured out, you need to start thinking about exercise.
So here’s the thing. With the exception of walking & hiking, I don’t actually LOVE exercise. But I love how it makes me FEEL. When I finish a workout, I feel amazing. I feel so powerful and on top of the world.
My exercise situation has changed a billion times in the last five years. I started out with just cardio, then I added weight training (with a personal trainer). Then I slacked on cardio, then I quit both. Then I tried to do them both again. Then I stopped. In the last year, I’ve finally found a way to be active every single day. By walking. It isn’t intensive, and it doesn’t burn a lot of calories. But it keeps me moving.
What I have learned is that there are a lot of exercise options out there, and the key is finding one that you truly enjoy doing. Or at least, find one that you enjoy doing for a time. Nothing has to be forever. A few years ago, I wrote a very basic post about exercise. My regimen doesn’t look like that anymore, but that’s because I’m always changing how I do things. And that’s okay! The point is to move consistently.
6. Once you have your plan, you need to implement it!
And write it all down every day. Log it in a fitness app, or keep a paper journal. That part doesn’t matter. The point is to be mindful of your daily food intake and activity. It’s so much harder to get off track for long periods of time if you’re holding yourself accountable. And guesstimating the amount of food you’re eating every day is the opposite of being accountable. (I’m speaking from experience!)
7. Now that you’re on your way, you need to tell people about it!
Okay, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I know for sure that this blog changed my life. Writing my decisions out for the world to see made me realize that I’m in control of my actions. It hasn’t made me perfect – for sure. But it keeps me accountable. I love feeling like staying on track (or getting BACK on track) is recognized and maybe even helpful. It inspires me to keep going.
And this is all there is to it. (Easy, right?! Ha!) Start learning, and then learn some more. When you start a new hobby, you have to figure out everything about it. This is no different. It’s so worth it!
If you still feel overwhelmed by this process, I get it and I’m here to help! I’ll soon be offering coaching sessions to help you navigate through these murky waters.