I'm 15, 5' 8”, and weigh about 200 pounds. I have been overweight for most of my life. I started a plan to lose weight in January and slowly started getting into it. I have always wanted to be like my friends when I go to the beach with them and be able to look good. I want to be at about 145 by next summer since I know I won't make it this summer. I don't play sports, but I do have a treadmill at home that I walk on every week. I used to walk every day but I have stopped dieting and exercising for some strange reason and just don't feel like it. Please help me! – Sasha*
You started out with the right approach — a plan to lose weight gradually. Congratulate yourself on that because too many people have unrealistic expectations of losing weight fast and they end up disappointed.
Managing expectations is a key part of weight loss. It's tempting to compare ourselves with friends, but that can leave us feeling frustrated and discouraged — not a good way to be in control. Instead of focusing on how friends look or the number on your scale, take a look at behaviors you can change that will lead to eating less and exercising more. If you exercise and eat better, the weight loss will follow and you'll feel healthier.
For example, eliminate sugary drinks and drink water or low-fat milk instead. Cut back on extras with your meals (like mayonnaise, salad dressing, or butter), reduce the size of your portions, and eat more fruit and veggies. Schedule your meals and snacks and eat only at those times.
Exercise should be a daily habit too. Have you thought about why you stopped using the treadmill? Maybe it was too boring doing the same thing every day. Try walking outside with a friend or family member and save the treadmill for rainy days. Take an exercise class like pilates or yoga. Mix things up a little, and be sure to include aerobic activity, some strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Make exercise something that fits into your schedule every day. If you can't exercise in large chunks, shorter activity breaks can accomplish the same thing. Just make sure it all adds up to at least 60 minutes each day. Write it all down in an exercise log to help you keep track.
Slow and steady is the best approach for keeping weight off, but it can be hard to stay motivated when weight comes off slowly. Writing down your plan can help. Make a list of things you can do (like no sugary drinks) and look at it every day. Make the items on your list your accomplishments, not pounds lost.
When you stick to your plan, give yourself a small reward. But if you slip up, forgive yourself — it's only natural. Then get right back to the plan. You can do it! If you keep going with the small changes long enough, they should become new habits that fit into your life easily.