When you’re trying to lose weight, it isn’t enough to simply have the expectation you’ll be motivated to eat less and exercise more. You need a plan that can help you stay focused when you’re faced with stress or other obstacles that may derail your efforts, even if you have the best intentions.
Going through the process of creating an action plan will help you identify thoughts and triggers which could knock you off course. The plan should encompass actions you can take to modify your behaviour and stay focused on healthy habits, so you can continue to lose weight and actually keep it off. For the best results, personalize the plan to account for your current habits and preferences.
Here’s how to create the best action plan for weight loss:
1.REFLECT FROM WITHIN
Reflect on your life’s unique circumstances, which influence how and when you eat and exercise (or what makes you bail on your diet or workout plans).
A plan is important, but it needs to start with identifying what unhealthy behaviours are holding you back and then identifying the root cause of those behaviours. There is an underlying reason why we perpetuate the unhealthy behaviours we have: Because they serve as a root cause of either escape or attention. You know you shouldn't be snacking on high-calorie foods after dinner. But you do it anyway to serve as an escape from a stressful day.
Once you identify the unhealthy behaviours and the root cause of those behaviours, you can then incorporate strategies to overcome them and help you stay focused. For example, if you identify that a stressful day triggers snacking on high-calorie foods after dinner, implement a healthier coping strategy like going for a walk, calling a friend, or listening to music.
2.CREATE A SOLID PLAN
Simply having a goal to lose 10 pounds won’t budge the scale unless you implement an actionable plan.
A goal and a plan are two very different things. A goal is intangible. It is something that we hope will simply ‘be’ when we wake up one morning. A plan is tangible. It is a series of concrete behaviours that, when followed, can lead to a measurable outcome. A series of behaviour changes can be tracked and confirmed, whereas a goal of ‘eating more healthily’ is a subjective and vague idea.
Therefore, prioritize incorporating realistic behaviour changes into your plan like drinking a certain amount of water at set times throughout the day, meal prepping on a Sunday or increasing your heart rate with moderate-intensity exercise for half an hour daily to achieve your overall goal.
3.TAILOR THE PLAN TO YOUR CURRENT LIFE
Don’t assume a best-selling diet book or a friend’s fitness routine will get you results.
A personalized action plan, rather than a cookie-cutter approach, is what will actually help. Take note of all that you are currently doing, identify the desired areas for improvement or adjustment, and incorporate steps that accommodate your lifestyle, preferences, and responsibilities. There's no point in starting a 5-day HIIT fitness program if you hate cardio. Do what you enjoy and what you believe you can realistically show up to, then consistent results will follow.
It’s also helpful to be proactive rather than reactive and identify real-life obstacles or challenges ahead of time. The kids will get sick at some point, you will have a crazy work week, or you might have an all-inclusive food and drink holiday booked in a few months time. Create a list of steps to work on when life happens so that you're prepared for these situations and able to get back on track.
4.KEEP THINGS POSITIVE
Create strategies that will help you stay focused during those temporary slip-ups instead of figuring out how to punish yourself for falling off the wagon. Focusing on the positives during your weight loss journey will enhance your ability to bounce back from any challenges that arise, stay more engaged in your weight loss efforts, and increase the likelihood of achieving your goals and maintaining your results over time.
Some helpful strategies that I've had my clients use and have also use myself include:
Focusing on Non-Scale Victories: Celebrate achievements that go beyond the number on the scale. These could be things like increased energy levels, improved mood, better sleep, or fitting into clothes more comfortably.
Practicing Self-Compassion: Which simply means being kind to yourself. Acknowledge that setbacks and challenges are a normal part of the journey and treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend.
Using Positive Affirmations: Using positive affirmations daily reinforce your belief in your ability to achieve your goals. You can write them down, say them out loud, or recite them internally through meditation, but the most important thing is to make sure that these affirmations remind yourself of your strengths (e.g., "I am strong and resilient, capable of overcoming any challenges that come my way"), determination ("I am capable of achieving my weight loss goals with determination and perseverance"), and the progress you've made ("Every step I take brings me closer to my ideal weight and improved health").
Creating Visual Inspiration: Create a visual collage or mood board with images and words that represent your goals, motivations, and positive emotions. Display it in a prominent place where you’ll see it every day (e.g., background on your desktop or phone, on your beside table, in your home office) to serve as a visual reminder of your goals and help your subconscious mind stay focused on the end result.
It's important to remember that saying positive isn't about denying challenges or difficulties; it's about approaching them with resilience, learning from them, and moving forward in a way that supports your weight loss goals.
5.CREATE IF-THEN PLANS TO COMBAT TRIGGERS
Map out in writing potential scenarios which may sideline your nutrition or exercise habits. For each example, come up with specific plans to help you stay on target. This involves specifying a triggering situation (the "if" part) and a specific action you'll take in response (the "then" part).
Some examples include:
If I experience a late-night snack craving (trigger), then I will have a cup of herbal tea and read a book to distract myself (action).
If I'm at a social event with unhealthy food options (trigger), then I will fill my plate with vegetables and lean protein before indulging in treats (action).
If I feel stressed after work (trigger), then I will take a 15-minute walk to clear my mind and boost my mood (action).
Having concrete solutions to issues you know you’ll face reduces the chance of split-second decision-making that will throw you off track.
6.LEAVE YOURSELF CUES THAT ENCOURAGE SUCCESS
Add simple yet effective reminders that help you stay on track and make healthier choices throughout your day. These cues serve as reminders and triggers for positive behaviours and are extremely beneficial to have in place on busy days or whenever you’re feeling stressed.
If it is hard for you to muster the motivation to go for a walk or run, place your workout gear by your bedside or front door. If you struggle with avoiding sweet treats at the office, have a mental script at the ready of how you will respond (e.g., "This goal is important to me and I am committed to my action plan"). If you always forget to drink enough water throughout the day, keep a water bottle with you and have other bottles ready in your gym bag, car, or office.
Repeat these strategies until you can hold yourself appropriately accountable and feel comfortable practicing assertiveness. With discipline and consistency, you can create new habits for yourself that stick.
I hope this blog has given you some inspiration on how you can create the best action plan for weight loss that accommodates your current lifestyle, preferences, and circumstances.
After reading this and you're still thinking:
I don’t know how to lose weight without feeling it difficult
I’m struggling to know what plan is best for me in my circumstances
I would love to have the confidence to start and achieve my weight loss goals
What does my ‘perfect plan’ even look like?!
I just want someone to help me stay accountable
I have you covered!
Sculptrition offers 1:1 weight loss programs that are personalized to you and will help you make transformational shifts in your mindset, nutrition, and movement so that your weight loss goals are achieved and maintained in the long-term. You'll learn how to lose weight sustainably and know that it can be accomplished in the simplest and most enjoyable way.
If you're ready to make this your final and most successful weight loss journey, book your free consultation with me today.