Creating Your Weight Loss Plan – Part 4 Changing Behaviors & Keeping Resolutions


With 2016 just a few days away, many of us are thinking about making resolutions for the New Year.  Well, resolutions are really behavior changes.  In the context of a weight loss plan, changing behaviors refers to changing what you have been routinely doing in regard to your eating and exercise routines.  You may also think of behaviors as habits.  Your weight is what it is because of your eating and exercise habits.  While your metabolism plays a significant role, your eating and exercise behaviors are the two areas that you can impact to change your weight.  You will either add new behaviors or substitute new, healthier behaviors for your current less healthy ones.  It is rare to just stop a behavior without replacing it.

Adding Behaviors

New behaviors involve adding something to your current activities, such as an exercise routine.  Often the main challenge is finding the time.  For some, it’s in the morning before the main activities of the day; for others, the evening makes more sense.

As far as exercise, the ultimate goal is spending at least 30 minutes most days of the week doing an activity of moderate intensity.  The more time you spend exercising, the more calories you will burn.  It has been recommended by the American Heart Association that from a cardiovascular health viewpoint, those 30 minutes can be expended all at once or in several blocks of at least 10 minutes each.    It makes sense to start slowly, so 10 minutes three days a week may be the perfect starting point for you.

Substituting Behaviors

These often revolve around eating behaviors.  For instance, instead of drinking sugary beverages, substitute water.  While this may sound simple, it takes planning to make sure you do it.  You’ll probably want to buy fewer sugary beverages and have them less accessible, too.  (Ideally, don’t buy any!)  You may need to put notes in your refrigerator on those sugary drinks that remind you to drink water instead.

As you create your weight loss plan, take some time and identify the behaviors you need to change and which ones you’ll tackle first.  Don’t try to change them all at once.  Make a list and change a few more every week or so.

Don’t forget to check out my website where you can set up Health-e Texts to reinforce your new healthier behaviors.  To use some of these you must register as a member, but membership is free!

Your comments are welcome.

For Your Health! – Dr. Bob

Creating Your Weight Loss Plan – Part 3 Milestones & Rewards


Just as you anticipate and prepare for barriers and obstacles to your weight loss plan, you should build in some rewards for milestones you reach during your journey.


Milestones can be thought of as mini-goals that you must attain on your way to your ultimate goal.  If your ultimate goal is a target weight loss of 75 pounds over a 6-month period, then you can set your milestones in terms of process measures and outcome measures towards that goal.

Process Measures

In order to succeed and reach your weight loss goal you need to change habits surrounding your eating and activity (exercise).  These habits, behaviors, processes must change.  For example, you can no longer buy any food just because it tastes good at the grocery.  You must read labels and evaluate your choices.  As far as activity, you need to get on a routine of scheduled exercise.  So a milestone for eating habits may be consistently keeping a food diary or consistently reading food labels at the grocery.  As far as exercise, a milestone could be exercising for at least 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week for at least a month.  Where possible, you will want to increase certain aspects of your new behavior to set a new milestone for yourself.  This is often done with exercise.  After a month of 30 minutes a day 3 days a week, you may want to increase that to 4 times a week.  But reward yourself as you attain each milestone.

Outcome Measures

These are usually tied to getting to a specific portion of your goal.  So, when trying to lose 75 pounds, your first milestone may be losing 10 pounds.  The next may be 25 pounds.  These milestones help you track your progress and allow you to reward yourself for the work you’ve done.  Changing behaviors isn’t easy!


The ideal reward should be tied to the new behaviors you are undertaking.  In the case of weight loss, they certainly shouldn’t be unhealthy or off-limits foods.  So, you may get yourself some new workout clothes or exercise equipment.  For more significant milestones, a weekend getaway might be appropriate but without indulging in foods that are not on your healthy eating plan.  When you hit your ultimate goal, you’ll probably want to treat yourself to some new clothes that fit the new you.

Next time I’ll talk a little more about changing behaviors.

For Your Health! – Dr. Bob

Creating Your Weight Loss Plan – Part 2 Obstacles


After identifying your Weight Loss Goal, Target Date, Start Date for your weight loss plan and support person, you need to identify potential barriers to your success and, most importantly, ways around those obstacles.  There are actually two kinds:

  1. The barriers that are likely to prevent you from starting your plan, and
  2. The challenges to following through on your Nutrition or Exercise Plans.

Barriers to Starting Your Weight Loss Program

This is a critical step.  Unless you accurately identify those impediments to start your plan and, most importantly, solutions to overcome them, you won’t even be able to start.

What are some barriers that might stand in someone’s way?  Well, for some there may be an upcoming event like a vacation or birthday that they may be inclined to use as an excuse.  For others, it’s the extra time and energy that must be spent in choosing healthier foods for their nutrition plan or needing to identify where they will be doing their new exercise plan.  If you consider each of these, they are solvable through a little extra thought.  You can start your plan during your vacation or just wait to begin after it’s over.  Ultimately, however, you will need to apply your new healthier eating and exercise habits no matter where you are.  As far as identifying nutrition and exercise plans, most people do that research during their preparation phase so on their Start Date they hit the ground running.  I’ll cover these in the next few posts.

Challenges to Following Through on Your Plan

Once you start your Weight Loss Plan, there will often be challenges to your staying on track.  They usually occur more often at the beginning.  As you learn to solve one, that same solution can often be used for others that come your way.  These challenges may arise from schedule changes that you will need to make, such as, when to exercise or where to find the time to keep a food diary?  By identifying these before you start your plan, you can devise strategies ahead of time so they won’t slow you down.  Another common example is what to do at work when there is a celebration where food is served?  Usually the foods aren’t the healthiest of choices.  There are plenty of candies, cakes & salty snacks, but fruit is a rarity.  One strategy is to eat only one or two items while drinking water.  The water can help fill you up.  Should the celebration be one that everyone is asked to bring in something to eat, you should be the one to bring in some healthier choices, such as a fruit or salad tray.

As you try to anticipate these Barriers and Challenges, don’t forget to discuss them with your support person to get their ideas.

If you have encountered any of these kinds of obstacles during your weight loss journey, please share them in a comment.  Looking forward to any comments you wish to share!  Also, don’t forget to check out my website where there are tools to Make Your Plan as well as many other features to learn about nutrition & exercise.

For Your Health! – Dr. Bob

Creating Your Weight Loss Plan – Part 1


In my last post I talked about motivation, the driving force behind any behavior change.  In the next few posts, I’ll focus on putting together your weight loss plan.  That will include:

  1. Setting your goals & start date
  2. Identifying a support person
  3. Barriers to starting your plan & solutions to overcome them
  4. Planning for the challenges that will come
  5. Milestones and rewards

In this post let’s consider setting your goal, planning your start date and the importance of identifying a support person.  Your goal is the weight you want to be or the pounds you intend to lose by your target date.  Both the weight loss and target date need to be realistic.  A healthy rate of weight loss is 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. per week.  If you have medical issues, you should check with your doctor about your plan, especially about how quickly you plan to lose weight, the nutrition plan you will be using and details of your exercise plan.  Too rapid a weight loss can be unhealthy especially if you have certain medical conditions.  It took time to gain those extra pounds and it will take time to lose them.  Be patient!  Remember slow and steady wins the race!

You should also choose a start date to begin your weight loss program.  Give yourself some time to go through the planning stage for your program.  It shouldn’t take more than 2-3 weeks to get the planning done.

Finally, choose a trusted friend with whom to share your plan.  Tell them your start date, goal weight loss and target date.  Their role is to help encourage you when you feel discouraged and celebrate your successes with you.  Some people choose someone who has successfully lost weight themselves.  While that experience isn’t necessary, the strategies they used to overcome challenges can be useful.

Next time, I’ll continue talking about the other parts of your weight loss plan that you may wish to consider before you actually start your weight loss program.  If you want to get a head start on those topics, check out my website where there are tools to Make Your Plan as well as many other features to learn about nutrition & exercise.  You’ll also find tools to calculate the nutritional content in foods, find the calories expended with common activities and to set up Health-e Texts to reinforce your new healthier behaviors.  To use some of these you must register as a member, but membership is free!

Your comments are welcome.

For Your Health! – Dr. Bob

Four Questions Surrounding Motivation


What is motivation?   I think a useful definition in the context of behavior change is that it is the driving force that will enable you to do the work and make the sacrifices for you to succeed in changing your behaviors for the better.

Where should it come from?  The most effective motivation comes from within yourself.  Changing your behaviors, to lose weight or quit smoking is hard work.  You won’t succeed if you are just trying to please someone else, but, that external validation can add to your momentum.  Even though motivation comes from within, it can have an external component to it.

How do you get motivated?  Ambivalence often makes the decision to change difficult.  Those reasons to change need to be looked at along with the reasons not to change.  You may want to list the Pros & Cons of changing your behaviors.  Divide a sheet of paper in two by drawing a line down the middle.  On one side list the Pros, and on the other, the Cons.  Here’s an example for starting a weight loss program:

Will look better at high school reunion Will need to buy new clothes
Lower health risks Will need to spend time planning meals
Will get in better physical shape Will need to fit exercise into daily routine
May be able to lower doses of some meds Might feel hungry at times
Less stress on knees, so less pain Will need to stop eating some favorite foods
More attractive
More energy

Usually this exercise results in many more Pros than Cons.  And the Pros are more significant advantages than the inconveniences of the Cons.

Finally, if after listing the Pros and the Cons you are still on the fence as far as changing, ask yourself this question, “What would have to happen in your life to make you commit to making the changes necessary to lose weight?”  Would you need to have a heart attack or develop diabetes?  While you may not be ready to start now, thinking in these terms can help move you along to where you will have the motivation to start.

Let me know what you think!

For Your Health! – Dr. Bob