The Worst Way to Start a Diet... And the Right One
When the thought occurs--Must lose weight!--rarely do women take a moment to plan before leaping into action, says health and fitness expert Michelle Bridges, the trainer famous all over Australia for the miracles she works on that country's version of The Biggest Loser. Instead, they begin immediately, cutting out entire food groups by dinnertime and signing up for a marathon without so much as a warm-up jog.
While every woman's inner drill sergeant tells her that slimming down is urgent and there's no time to wait, Bridges and other experts say it pays to pause. The groundbreaking idea behind her 12-Week Body Transformation is to prepare your mind, your body, your kitchen cabinets, and even your family for the changes you want to make--so that those changes happen, and stick. Bridges calls it "preseason weight loss," and sets aside two to three weeks for the prep work. You'll still get results, don't worry. "I've seen clients drop eight pounds during the planning stages because they are becoming more conscious and they are getting real," she says. Tackle these basic tasks before launching into your next diet and exercise program, and postseason will look like this: you, back in your favorite jeans, possibly crying tears of joy.
1. Make a "why" list
Grab your iPad or a journal and write down all the reasons you want to lose weight, says Bridges. Think of this as a bucket list for your future, slimmed-down self. What would you do if you were to whittle away those extra pounds? Go to your next college reunion? Hike Machu Picchu? Have more sex with your husband? Lower your cholesterol and live a long, healthy life? Bottom line: It's hard to stick to healthy habits over the long haul if you don't know what real, bigger rewards you're working toward every time you, say, pass up a cookie.
2. Do a "body scan"
This may be hard to believe when you're staring in shock at the scale in the doctor's office or your bathroom, but those three digits staring back at you aren't everything. In fact, the reason we often give up on weight loss--sometimes weeks, sometimes hours after the Yikes! moment--is our focus on the pounds. Chris Powell, the trainer on ABC's Extreme Weight Loss, says it's important to know a few other baseline numbers before starting your slim-down plan; some weeks, the scale won't budge, but you can look back at all these stats and gauge your progress:
1. The circumference of your chest, waist, hips, and thighs.
2. Your clothing size (stretchy pants don't count).
3. The time it takes to run/walk a mile.
4. The number of push-ups and sit-ups you can complete in one minute.
Related: The Magic Food Formula That Makes You Lose
3. Find four "teammates"
You probably won't get the all-in support you're expecting from friends and family, cautions Susan Albers-Bowling, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Women's Health Center at Cleveland Clinic. So make sure you have at least four key people on your side as you approach weight loss: