Where Should I Begin?

By Sandy Smith, Weight Loss and Wellness Coach

By the time most women begin to work with me as their Weight Loss Coach, they have usually tried so many programs and fads that their head is spinning.  As a result, worried that this will be “just one more” time they tried and “failed”, there is a great deal of confusion in their minds about that first step.

So, here you go:  a road map

to getting yourself back on track with a Healthy LifeStyle You’ll Love to Live.

Step 1:  Clean out your environment!

Go through your kitchen, office, car—anywhere you keep food.  Ask yourself if this food is helpful for your goals or getting in the way.  If it is helpful, keep it.  But if it is getting in the way, you have 3 options:  Replace it (with a more goal friendly substitution) or Remove it.  Some foods are a problem for you but a “must” for others you live with—in that case, choose option 3—Relocate it.  Store the item out of sight, out of reach, or somewhere you will think twice about reaching for it.  One client stored the pair of shorts she very much wanted to wear while on vacation in the freezer in front of the ice cream her husband insisted on having in the house.  Simply having to move the shorts out of the way gave her enough of a pause to allow her to rethink a decision to indulge in ice cream (and, yes, she did wear the shorts happily on vacation)!

Step 2:  Plan your meals and possible healthy snacks for the next few days. 

Focus on eating as many unprocessed foods as possible by leaning heavily on veggies and fruit.  Note the issues that come up for you when doing this planning and flip them into opportunities.  Think you hate veggies?  Ask family members or friends what veggies they like and how they like to cook them, or simply go to the produce aisle in the store and pick out one interesting new vegetable or fruit you’d be willing to try.  Don’t know what to do with it?  Ask the produce manager for suggestions or simply Google recipe ideas right there in the store.  I recommend clients aim for one fruit and/or vegetable with every meal and snack.  Not only will you be adding lots of flavor to your menu, but you will be adding lots of low calorie nutrients that will help your “engine” run more smoothly, and increasing fullness and satisfaction.

Step 3:  Set up accountability and support partners.

Choose wisely here—we’re not looking for anyone to be your Food Police and sometimes your closest friend can undermine your efforts with her own agenda.  Examine what in the past has stopped you from achieving and maintaining your goals, then brainstorm who might help you get around those obstacles.  These can be personal trainers, weight loss coaches or groups, others on a similar journey, or folks in your life who can pitch in and help you make the time you need to take care of yourself.

Step 4:  Prepare for the “down times”.

It can be easy to be excited and motivated in the beginning, but sustaining motivation is key to maintaining the consistency needed to create true change in your lifestyle.  What inspires you?  Does watching Ninja Warriors make you want to move?  Go for it and channel that connection to move off the sofa and into your activity.  Love to collect recipes on Pinterest?  Start a Board with healthy recipes—and try at least one new recipe each week.  Reading success stories encourage you to push through obstacles?  Find sites online, read magazines, join a weight loss coaching group so you can share in the excitement and energy—and pick up new strategies!

Step 5:  Begin Tracking or Journaling your food and activity. 

Studies have shown that folks who write down what they eat and when/how they exercise tend to stick with it and lose the weight.  The only “magic” here is the awareness we gather from the act of journaling.  One of my favorite (free!) apps is MyFitnessPal.  This app has it all:  a robust tracking library, a barcode scanner for quickly finding packaged foods information, target information based on the physical parameters and goals you input, and a blog with healthy recipes, tips and exercise strategies.

And finally, practice Mental Flexibility.  

The ability to change how you think about things and rewrite “your story” will allow you to change your “I can’ts”  into “I cans” and recover from setbacks.  For instance,  Book Club with my girlfriends often includes good food and a glass (or two!) of wine, and sometimes I find that the best laid plans for an on track social event went astray with extra appetizers, a second helping, or a bigger piece of dessert than planned.  Mental flexibility allows me to stop berating myself for going off plan and to stop generalizing (“I’ll never be successful”).  Instead, I can acknowledge that I had a good time (yeah!), note the positive steps I took so I can repeat them, understand where having a good time led to unhelpful choices so that I can plan for next month’s book club, and decide how I want to help offset the effects of the night before (a longer run or bike ride, perhaps?).

As a Coach, I work with you to brainstorm ways to bring these skills into your life so that you can love the life you are leading—and feel fantastic!

Would you like to get away for a weekend with a group women who are also creating a healthier lifestyle?

Join me and Dr. Deadra Wagner for

YOU CAN—A Girlfriends Getaway Weekend

Sept. 16 – 18, 2016

For more information, visit