The Most Important First Step to Losing Weight

Follow each of these critical steps for effective weight loss

first step to losing weight
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When weight loss is your goal, do you know the most important first step to losing weight? If you're shopping for one of the many weight loss plans on the market, feel a little uneasy. There are so many diets to choose and so many steps to take. The process can be overwhelming. Before you begin your weight loss journey, there are a few important things to do and the first one is critical.

The First Step to Weight Loss

The first thing you should do if you want to lose weight is to make an appointment with your health care professional.

If you are overweight or obese, your doctor may hold the keys to effective weight loss and motivation.

Your doctor can tell you how weight loss can affect your health status and your risk for disease. Your doctor may also be able to tell you how much weight you need to lose to see improvement in your medical profile. And your doctor may be able to refer you to a registered dietitian or a physical therapist to help guide your weight loss journey.

Your doctor may also be able to help you choose a diet. Most likely, your doctor will say the best way for you to lose weight is to cut calories from your daily diet and to start a program of physical exercise.

In some cases, your doctor may discuss prescription weight loss medications or weight loss surgery. But these treatments are usually reserved for patients who are obese and who have tried traditional weight loss methods without success.

Weight Loss Step 2: Put It in Writing

So how do you change your daily diet to lose weight?

Experts recommend that the best way to begin is to keep a food diary. A food journal is a smart way to check your health habits (both good and bad) and find the trouble spots where changes need to be made.

After you begin your diet journal, the next step to losing weight is to set a goal. This important step is overlooked or ignored by most dieters and that's a big mistake.

If you set a goal correctly, it will guide the weight loss process like a road map, providing direction and motivation as challenges come up along the way.

Weight Loss Step 3: Find the Best Diet

The best diet for you isn't necessarily the diet that helped your friend lose weight or the weight loss program that your neighbor followed when she slimmed down. Each dieter is unique. You have a different lifestyle, a different medical profile, different food preferences and a different budget than your friends and family. So take the time to investigate several different diets before you choose one.

Need a little help? Use these resources to begin your search:

Weight Loss Step 4: Rally the Troops 

You might be able to manage the entire weight loss process by yourself, but most people can't. So it's important to get weight loss help.

Some diet programs and commercial weight loss plans provide counselors and support groups. But there is also help available for the do-it-yourself dieter if you design your own program. Set up your support system before you need it, so it's already in place when typical weight loss challenges arise.

Don't be afraid to get creative when you ask for help. You can ask friends and family for help losing weight. Or you can even gather a group of co-workers and set up a plan to lose weight at work. Some people even successfully find weight loss support at their church or synagogue.

Weight Loss Step 5: Prepare a Back Up Plan 

Weight loss often comes down to trial and error. Many dieters have good weeks when they slim down and a few bad weeks when they gain.  This is normal. The important thing is to not give up.  

So how do you stick to your plan when the going gets rough? Prepare for the challenges now. Learn how to boost your motivation when you want to quit, find out how to troubleshoot your diet when it's not working and figure out how to manage a weight loss plateau when it happens. 

If you follow these steps to losing weight, you'll put yourself on the fast track to weight loss and to lasting health and wellness.

*This article was edited by Malia Frey, About.com Weight Loss Expert

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