Weight Loss 101: Get Started on the Right Foot

I used to take for granted that “everyone” in the whole world knew about weight loss. I assumed that because I knew a lot about weight loss even though I looked like this:

This is when I weighed the most - about 305 pounds.

This is when I weighed the most – about 305 pounds.

I had been through the first weeks of Weight Watchers so many times that I really could have led the classes myself except that I would not have had much credibility.

As I lost weight using my own plan, which you can find in my book, I was asked a lot of questions about how I was losing the weight. I was a little surprised at the things people did not know. My surprise continued as I began teaching a weight loss class in our church and to this day, I am sometimes surprised at people who are well read, well spoken, and highly intelligent that do not grasp the basic concepts of weight loss.

Because we are at the beginning of the year, I thought I’d give you all a refresher course on the basics of weight loss. For some, this will be familiar and for others, this will be new. No matter where you are in your journey, I hope that you will find it helpful.

Weight Loss 101

10 Steps to Successful Weight Loss

1. Assess Where You Are

Take measurements, weigh yourself, check in with your doctor, and assess your fitness level. Once you have done those things, make sure you are mentally prepared to lose weight. This includes addressing emotional eating, getting your friends and family on board, and making a mental commitment to changing your lifestyle and relationship with food.

2. Decide on Your Weight Loss Plan

There are hundreds of weight loss plans out there. Some are good and some are awful. When deciding whether a plan is right for you, look for a plan that encourages real food, encourages regular exercise, and is sustainable for the long haul. Run like the wind away from plans that are hard to follow, require special supplements, and are extreme in anyway.

3. Have a Tracking Plan

People who track their food and exercise lose more weight than people who never do. You do not have to track every day if that doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle, but checking in with yourself in terms of how many calories/nutrients you are consuming is a smart thing to do. Some of my favorite websites with mobile app capabilities include Sparkpeople and MyFitnessPal.

4. Set Goals

Setting goals is a vital part of weight loss. Be sure to set goals in at least three areas: Weight, Exercise, and Life Goals. Do not ignore the life goal part because you do not want to be so focused on weight loss so as to forget what is going on in the rest of your life.

5. Have a Reasonable Expectation of Progress

It’s great to want to lose weight but it is not so great to expect to lose 10 pounds in a week and then be disappointed when it does not happen. Have reasonable expectations of your weight loss progress. Remember that weight loss is often fastest in the beginning and slows down as you get closer to your goal weight.

6. Remember That Exercise is a Tool

Some people start a weight loss program with the idea that they can exercise their way past a bad diet. Exercise is an important part of a weight loss program, but in the end, your food choices are often what dictate your success.

7. Expect Plateaus

It is normal and natural to have weight loss plateaus during your dieting experience. Be prepared for them by understanding why they happen and how to stay motivated through them. Here is a post I wrote previously on plateaus.

8. Have a Support Group

You can have a support group of one, tens, or hundreds. One would be if you and your friend or spouse are in this together, tens if you have a group of friends supporting you, and hundreds if you are part of a large online weight loss community. Whatever you choose and are comfortable with is fine – just have at least one person who supports you, can encourage you, and understands your struggles.

9. Deal With Emotions

Ignore the emotional part of weight issues at your own peril. Weight issues often have their roots in emotions. For example, I used to eat every time I was stressed out or sad. Identify your emotions and find ways to deal with them without falling back on food.

10. Identify Obstacles and Triggers

Everyone has an obstacle or two when it comes to weight loss. Identify those obstacles and triggers that stand in your way. An example could be an unsupportive family member who brings unwanted treats into the house. Another could be the fact that every time you watch a food commercial you want that food right then. Knowing what may trip you up can help you avoid those very issues.

The Take Away

Weight loss isn’t easy but it is worth the effort. I hope that you found this basic list helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions through email or in the comments.

What are some of your basic weight loss rules that you found helpful when you were first starting out? Diane

8 thoughts on “Weight Loss 101: Get Started on the Right Foot

  1. Leah (goodnight, cheese) says:

    Great list! Some things I’ve figured out/read that have been helpful:

    – Your body can’t defy physics. If you keep going, the weight will come off.
    – You can have a pretty bad day with food, and still lose half a pound that week by not letting that one day spill over.
    – You can change what you eat, or how much you eat. That’s the basis for any diet. Pick which works better for you.
    – It’s really really really hard. I think the hardest thing about it is being patient, knowing that you might work really hard every day for six months before you see real changes in your body. But that’s ok, because you can do hard things.

  2. Michelle F says:

    This was very timely. Thank you.
    I’ve restarted my weight loss efforts at the beginning of this week. So far it is going well. I used this list to think about my plan and I’ve got most of the bases mostly covered. I find that tracking calories or points to turn me off of trying to lose all together, so I’m not specifically doing that. That being said, I have an idea of how much and what I’m eating and can follow that and the scale to keep on track.

    I’ve used your steps to outline my plan on my blog. I think it helped me summarize my plan. Thank you.

  3. Natalie says:

    I did a nutrition class last year. I am in my 40s, most of the class was 18 or 19, straight out of High School. We did a quiz in the first class to show our beliefs about nutrition and I thought it was pretty straightforward, I’ve done a lot of reading over the years. But other people’s answers were a real eye-opener. Like around 40% of the class thought that alcohol was low-calorie! And many thought that there was carbohydrate in meat. Basic stuff I assumed everyone knew. Maybe some people genuinely don’t know that fast food is fattening and unhealthy.

  4. Carole Lee says:

    I think the biggest lesson for me was that food was my friend not my enemy. I learned more about the food(s) I was consuming – appreciating it’s taste, nutritional value and overall effects on my body. It’s really helped me in making positive choices.

  5. Judy says:


    How do you go about calculating so you get your 30% of calories from fats and your % for protein etc. My friend and I both have your book but we just don’t get what or how you did that breakdown? Can you clarify for us?

    Thank you

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