Food Journal Before you bolt from the diet shoot, take a few moments to review what really needs changing and where you should start. Fixating on a desirable figure is not a matter of just losing weight. You want to lose the right kind of weight – namely fat weight – and you want to lose it for good without sacrificing your health. Here are the four essential preparation steps to take before venturing down the road to weight loss.

1. Throw out the scale. Instead, have a trained health professional check your body fat percentage, that is how much of your total body weight is fat weight. Women should aim for a range somewhere between 18 to 25 percent, while men can shoot for a little lower. Or, use the ball-park measure of over-fatness – the waist-to-hip measurement, which requires nothing more than a tape measure and third-grade arithmetic skills. Women can divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement; if the ratio is greater than .80 or the total waist measurement is greater than 80cm (approximately 32 inches) then you probably need to lose some fat weight.

2. Review what you are eating and how you are exercising.  Keep a journal for a week to see what changes need to be made, or if you are even ready to venture into the dieting zone.

3. Consider why you are eating. Do you overeat when under stress, bored, tired, lonely, depressed, or excited? Do you eat to relax or as a reward? Do you ignore hunger, but then feel deprived and overeat? Do you eat unconsciously, i.e., in front of the TV, while reading a book or magazine, or when preparing meals? You may find that the real issues are why you eat, not what you eat.

4. Set goals. Goals are your roadmap to weight management. Without them you won’t know where you are going or even if you got there. For a goal to be useful, it must be specific (decide exactly the what, when, where, and how of your weight-management plan), realistic (establish both an obtainable long-range goal and the little goals that will take you step-by-step to success), and flexible (you might need to modify your little goals along the way, if you find they are too easy or too difficult). Keep in mind that goals should be challenging, not overwhelming.

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