6 November 2012 Feeling Overwhelmed Before Starting Your Weight Loss Journey?

Are you hearing tons of recommendations from your health care providers and don't know where to start first? It can be really intimidating to start a weight loss program. There are dietary changes to make to help you trim calories but there are also basic healthy eating guidelines to ensure an adequate nutritional intake. Then there is the recommendation to engage in moderate-intensity exercise for about an hour a day. And on top of all that, foods you should or should not consume to help control blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. What takes top priority?

Serious Medical Problem?

If you have multiple health issues to address, then ask your doctor for help. What does your doctor see as the most important first step to take to make the biggest difference in your health? Can you do it? Do you need more help? Consider asking for a referral if you need more guidance. For instance, a physical therapist can help you with an exercise plan if you have pain, a dietitian can help you with an eating plan, a mental health specialist can help you control depression, a sleep lab can help identify sleep apnea, etc.

Cherry Pick Your Goals

Instead of a laundry list of behaviors you have to change right away, decide which things you feel you can change and just pick a few goals. Try to implement those changes consistently over time. When you feel confident that you have achieved the behavior change (e.g. reducing how frequently you dine out), then identify another 1-2 goals.

If you do not feel ready to identify behavior change goals, then simply log what you are currently doing for food and exercise. After a few weeks, review your log to see where you can make changes. Also consider reading Ryan's post from 11/1/12 regarding a study that found folks who simply logged for 8 weeks before starting a weight loss program actually did better during the maintenance phase than those who dived right into weight loss without prior reflection first. Also, for more information on how to set goals, see my older post from 1/3/12.

Physical Activity

If you struggle with weight control and also have high blood pressure and/or Type 2 diabetes, then one of the most important changes to make is to increase physical activity. Doing so will help you control all three health problems at the same time. If you can't do activity for more than 10 minutes at a time, then do 10 minutes in multiple sessions throughout the day. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical with a goal of eventually working up to 60 minutes daily.

Eat Meals

If you are a meal skipper, then your very first step could be to start eating three regular meals a day. This is very important if you are trying to lose weight – meal skippers tend to consume more calories throughout the day. Also, meal skipping makes blood glucose control very difficult. If you skip breakfast because you feel you do not have time or you have no appetite in the morning, then try a high protein shake instead of skipping the meal. It is easily digested and light enough to get you going without discomfort.


Although cutting out carbs will result in weight loss – be practical about what you can actually follow for the long haul. One of the most basic and simple meal planning tools for controlling carbs while still getting a balance of nutrients is the Plate Method: 1/2 plate filled with non-starchy veggies, 1/4 plate with whole grains/unprocessed high fiber carbs, 1/4 plate with heart healthy proteins, + 1 small piece of fruit, and + 1 cup nonfat/low fat yogurt, milk, or milk substitute. Here is a link to the Healthy Plate on Kaiser Permanente's website.

Good luck! And remember – the only sure fire way to fail is to give up.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Weight Loss/Behavior Weight Loss/Weight Loss Tips & Quips

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