- Motivation – It's why you've decided you need to change. Without proper motivation, be it negative ("I got stuck in a restaurant booth today") or positive ("I am going to Cancun in a dental floss bikini in 6 months"), you won't get far or achieve results you're going to be happy with. So make sure you remind yourself, often, about why you're embarking on this life-changing experience.
- Set a GOAL – You don't get in the car (usually) without some idea about where you're going. Let's say Nancy and Sarah both want to go to a new restaurant downtown for lunch. Nancy is OCD, paranoid, just a plain FREAK about being on time – so she Google Map's directions. She knows which streets to take and that it's going to be a 15 minute drive. She's going to be there RIGHT at Noon, dammit! Now, Sarah – she's a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl. She kinda has an idea of where the restaurant is. She doesn't go downtown often, and she's so laid back she leaves at the last possible minute. I'm going to bet she doesn't make it on time, if she makes it at all. Naughty, naughty, Sarah! The moral of the story is this: Have a clear and concise goal (know where you're going) and have an idea of about how much time it's going to take to achieve it. Plan on having a map (a plan) and insist on achieving your goal on time.
- Plan – As the old cliché' goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." This isn't always the case, but it usually is when it comes to weight loss goals. People who don't plan waver when their motivation levels take a dive. These people try to change, but never actually get to the real change part. Know what and when you're going to do something, and how you're going to do it.
- Support – Some people can go it alone and do just fine. Most do not. So tell your friends and family what you're doing, share your excitement about it with them, and ask them for their help supporting your goal. Who knows, perhaps you'll inspire some people along the way.
- Evaluate Constantly – Weigh yourself, take tape measurements, photos sans clothing or in a bathing suit, and body fat (if you have the means). Do it however often you need to (at least monthly, preferably bi-weekly) – make sure it's part of your plan, use it to increase motivation, and make adjustments so you stay on track to reach your goal. If you're disappointed with what's happening, talk to your support to help you figure it out. Maybe you'll score a new workout buddy to boot. (See how this is all tying together? It's like a freakin' tapestry!)
- Celebrate Wins – No matter how small your win, pat yourself on the back – often – for taking a stride toward your goal. Rewards don't have to be months and months away. Reward yourself weekly for a job well done. Get all of your workouts in? Eat well 80% of the time this week? Go out to a nice restaurant, buy a new pair of shoes, have a damn ice cream cone. Yes, it's okay to have what you've been craving here and there. It will help you stick to your plan (make it part of it) and reach your goal. The last thing that will be productive to you is a Ben & Jerry's binge because you've limited yourself more than a prison inmate in the bowels of Argentina.