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Are you on a diet, or thinking about one? Getting off to a strong start (or ramping up the motivation once you’ve been going for a while) is often the hardest part: it becomes much easier once you’ve established good, healthy habits.

Here are five ways to kick-start your weight loss journey – they’ll get you into the right mindset for success:

1. Chuck Out the Junk

Do you have packets of biscuits, multipacks of crisps, sugary cans of pop, and other junk filling your cupboards? Sometimes, the decision to lose weight comes after a period of overindulgence: this might be linked to Christmas, Easter or a holiday, or it could just be that you’ve slipped into bad habits.

Whatever your excuse, it’s time to get rid of it – and the junk food. Throw away anything which you don’t want in your new diet. Bin anything which you’ve opened. See if you can donate unopened junk food to a local homeless shelter (or give it to friends).

If you’re anything like me, you probably find it hard to throw away food. That’s good: by binning the junk, you’ll be sending a strong signal to your mind that you’re serious about your diet.

Related: 4 Ways to Lose Weight Without Pills

2. Commit to Keeping A Food Diary

Studies have shown that dieters who keep a food diary are much more likely to succeed in losing weight than those who don’t. Tracking what you eat keeps you honest: if you have to write down that sneaky chocolate bar, you’ll think twice before eating it.

You can keep a paper food diary (buy a traditional diary from a stationers, and rule columns for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and Total Calories), you can use a spreadsheet on your computer, or for maximum convenience, you can use a website. Many sites offer food diaries that allow you to track your food intake easily and simply.

Whatever form your diary takes, make sure you keep it up. It’s particularly important to fill in your diary on “bad” days – those times when you feel like munching on everything in sight.

3. Tell Someone About Your Diet

Another great way to hold yourself accountable is to tell someone that you’re on a diet. Some of us – especially when we’ve been on diets unsuccessfully in the past – make the mistake of trying to keep our efforts secret. You’ll find that it’s much easier if you can confide in a trusted friend, relative or colleague.

If you can’t talk to anyone close to you about your diet, how about starting an online blog or joining a weight loss forum to share your experiences anonymously?

If you’re feeling really brave, commit to sharing your food diary with your dieting buddy: this really helps you to stay disciplined in tracking what you eat.

4.Go For A Walk

Walking has three huge benefits for me: it burns calories; it lifts my mood whenever I’m feeling low, and it gives me “head space” to think things through. When you’re starting off on a diet – or any new journey in your life – it really helps to take some serious time to think about it.

Go for a good, long, peaceful walk. Enjoy moving your body and being active, and enjoy being out of doors. Think about your desire to lose weight: what daily habits do you want to build? What new foods or meals could you try? How could you reorganize things so that you have time to exercise regularly?

Don’t just stop with one walk: make it a treat that you enjoy at least once a week, some “me time” to step back from the busyness of everyday life, to dwell on your goals and to re-enforce your determination to reach them.

5.Stock Up On Healthy Foods

No diet can get off to a great start without some thought going into what you’ll be eating! Now that you’ve made some space in your cupboards by chucking out the junk, restock with healthy foods that you enjoy and that aren’t a hassle to prepare.

Buy light or low-fat versions of your usual favorites – you’ll be surprised how fast your taste buds adapt to lighter mayo, cheeses, spreads and milk.

Keep some basic staples like whole grain pasta and cereal, tinned tomatoes and frozen vegetables on hand: try to ensure you have the makings of a simple meal, for those days when the fridge is bare and you don’t have time to shop.

Related: how to lose weight before your wedding?

How to Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals?

Each year millions of people find themselves on diets of all kinds.  If you find yourself in the situation and want to make the most out of your weight loss efforts, then you’ll be very interested in set and learning how to set goals for yourself.  This article will help you do that and hopefully get you on the path to success.

Question – What should I eat to achieve my goal?

The answer to this question is not so much what should you eat, but how much.  While it is very important to focus on eating healthy natural foods, it is also equally important to learn how to control your portion sizes.  The primary reason that most people gain weight is that they eat more than they should.  Most of the food available today is heavily processed and loaded with calories which can make it challenging to eat in small portions.

Question – How long will it take to achieve my goals?

A lot of this depends on you and how motivated you are but a good rule of thumb is to never try to lose more than 1 pound a week.  As depressing as this news may be it is also easier in the long run to achieve your weight loss goals, if you have modest short-term objectives.  Crash dieting is almost always a bad idea since your body will fight efforts to starve it by holding on to body fat reserves.  If you can manage to lose just 1 pound a week in three months time, you will have lost 12 pounds, in six months time, 24 pounds and over the course of the year 48 pounds.  This can all be done without starving yourself if you just have some patience.

Question – What do I do if I get stuck?

Plateaus in weight loss are normal and should be expected.  If you find that your weight loss has stagnated, then you should double check how many calories you’re eating each day and order attempt to increase your activity through exercise. Exercise is the other key component to losing weight in the long run and should not be neglected.

Now that you know, what most of the commonly asked questions are regarding weight loss figure out where you fit on the spectrum and then focus on the area that needs the most work and then just do it!

Best of luck on your new diet – or on your kick-start to an existing regime.

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