Losing weight can seem impossible, especially with so many products on the market that promise to make it easier. The best way to lose weight healthily, and keep the weight off, is through lifestyle changes and dedication. By setting specific and attainable goals, you’ll find yourself losing weight and feeling better.

The first step in starting your weight loss journey is to make a commitment to yourself. It can be easy to get frustrated with changing your relationship with food. But it is important to keep your promise to yourself and to stay dedicated to your weight loss goals.

When you feel ready to make the commitment to improving your health and losing weight, it’s time to set your goals. Some of these goals can be long-term and focus on what you ultimately want to achieve, as well as why those goals are important to you. You should also set two or three short-term goals.

These short-term goals should be specific, realistic, and forgiving. These goals serve as steppingstones to achieving your long-term goals. For example, instead of making your goal ‘exercise more’ try ‘I’ll do my best to walk for 15 minutes a day, at least three times a week’. This goal gives you something specific to aim for and is also something you can realistically achieve. It also allows you the flexibility to forgive yourself if you don’t meet your goal. No one is perfect, and not meeting all your goals perfectly is no reason to give up on your goals.

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Another important first step is to keep a food journal for a few days. Track everything you eat and drink, when you eat, and where you eat. This will help give you an insight into your eating habits. Do you notice you eat out a lot? Do you track lots of snacks at night while you watch tv?

This food journal can also help you identify obstacles. Does your work schedule keep you from sitting down to eat a healthy lunch? Do you rely on fast food for quick and easy meals? Do you feel like food security is getting in the way of your goals? Once you know what is standing in your way you can make a plan to deal with them.

Talking to your Provider can also be helpful before starting to attempt weight loss. Your Provider can give you insights into ways to diet safely for your health, as well as offer support and advice on strategies for successful weight loss. People who have the support of a healthcare provider are often more successful at losing weight and keeping it off. They can also refer you to other services that may support your goals.

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Now that you’re armed with information from your provider, details about your eating habits, and a set of goals to pursue, you’re ready to start making lifestyle changes to benefit your health and weight. Portion control is a key part of this.

Weight loss occurs when you eat fewer calories than you burn, so cutting back on your food intake is one of the first steps you can take. When you build your plate for meals, try to make it 25% protein, 25% healthy grains, and 50% vegetables and fruits. Reducing your intake of sugary drinks can also help you slim down, feel better, and get healthier.

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As you take these first steps, it is important to focus on your feelings just as much as what’s on your plate. By identifying your triggers, and learning to recognize food cues, you can start building better habits that support all your goals.  When you feel the urge to dive into a bag of potato chips (or chips ahoy) stop to take inventory of your feelings. Are you bored? Upset? Anxious? Stressed? Work to identify what is making you feel the urge to snack.

Dedicating yourself to losing weight and getting healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite snacks and sweets. In fact, allowing yourself the occasional treat can actually help you be more successful with losing weight. As you get started, try to follow the 80/20 rule. This rule suggests you follow healthy eating practices 80% of the time and allow yourself the occasional indulgence. This will keep you from feeling deprived of your favorite foods.

It is also important to focus on positive change. It can sometimes take up to three months to see the change in your body. Since you see yourself every day, it can be harder to notice the changes that take place over time. Healthy weight loss is considered one to two pounds lost per week, but it can be less. Many factors impact your health and weight, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see major changes right away.

Rather than focusing on weight loss, it is better to focus on your overall health. By eating less, cutting back on junk food, and eating more fruits and vegetables, your entire body will benefit. You should notice yourself sleeping better, having more energy, and being in a better mood. Your provider will likely see a decrease in your blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as weight.

When you commit to getting healthy, it can feel like a huge task. But the benefits are far greater than the work you put in. If you start by tracking what you eat each day, it will become easier to find places to make healthy swaps and identify habits of emotional eating. With a specific set of goals you make, you can also easily track your progress. As you start eating healthier foods and smaller portions, you’ll slowly start to see physical changes, and your health will improve.

If you aren’t sure where to start, or you want support as you start living healthier, make an appointment with your provider today and learn about all the services EPIC has to offer!