Just as you wouldn’t begin an important and complex project at work or home without making plans beforehand, don’t start a new weight loss plan without taking some time to set yourself up for success.

You can make your journey easier by doing the following before you start making changes to your eating habits:

Determine the real reason(s) you want to lose weight. Maybe you have one big underlying “why,” such as “I have a family history of diabetes and I want to do everything in my power to stay healthy.” Or maybe you have a list of reasons, including things like, “My joints won’t hurt as much if I lose weight,” or “I want to be able to go hiking with my kids next summer.”

Spend some time thinking about your personal reasons for wanting to lose weight. Write them down to remind yourself of your deepest motivations during your weight loss journey.

See your healthcare provider, especially if you have any medical issues. Let your doctor know you plan to take steps to improve your health. This is a good opportunity to record your weight and any pertinent test results. You’ll have a record of exactly where your weight loss journey began.

Set a reasonable goal for weight loss. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider about what an appropriate goal for you is. If you have a lot of weight to lose, break the larger goal into smaller increments.

Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Why tempt yourself with foods that are not on your proposed healthy eating plan? Toss (or donate if packages are unopened and unexpired) everything you know you shouldn’t be eating.

If other household members need or want foods you won’t be eating, see if you can store the foods that might tempt you someplace where you won’t see them every time you’re in the kitchen. Perhaps you can give them a cabinet, shelf, or drawer all their own.

Make a list of strategies for when you’re tempted to go off your plan. What possible obstacles or challenging situations can you foresee? Maybe an annual holiday party approaches, or your yearly vacation. What if someone brings birthday cake to work? Create some if/then scenarios to help you cope.

Enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member. Share your weight loss plans and ask for their support during the process. You might even form a support group of people who want to lose weight.

Collect the basic tools you’ll need for measuring food portions, meal preparation, and cooking at home. It’s much easier to whip up a healthy home cooked meal when you have a sharp knife, a good non-stick skillet, and accurate measuring utensils!

Losing weight is a process that requires changes to multiple lifestyle habits. Set yourself up for weight loss success by preparing for these changes before you start your new diet plan.

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