Over here at Ideal Balance, we are big fans of Dave Ramsey. As Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coaches, we follow his Baby Steps and coach our clients to do the same. On the other side of the house, our fitness coaching clients get the same simple, step-by-step approach to losing weight.
Just as with your finances, we want to make lifestyle changes that will last. We’re not in it for the quick-but-short-lived-win. So, what are the 7 Baby Steps to Weight Loss That Lasts Forever? Let’s dive in.
1. Workout (Move your body)
Okay, so our mantra around here is that working out will transform your body but it’s not going to be the key to losing weight. So why are we starting here? Well, most people are wiling to start here before they are willing to do most other things for weight loss. Most people have been conditioned into believing they should probably workout-that’s how they end up on our doorstep. We are happy to use that conditioning to get them started on the path to a healthy lifestyle.
Moreover, the good that comes from working out is hard to overstate. Exercise is like medicine. It’s a great confidence boost. It helps your memory and focus. It reduces stress levels and boosts the immune system. It also helps you develop the habit of showing up for yourself and putting yourself first. Finally, it will transform your body, turning fluffier bits into toned, curved, lean muscle mass. And, oh-by-the-way, it will boost your metabolism while doing so.
So, yes, we start with moving your body. We don’t believe this should mean doing anything you hate. We try hard here at Ideal Balance to make sure you’re challenged but having fun. On the off days, we want you doing something active: walking, riding bikes with the kids or swimming. Whatever it means for you to be active and to enjoy it.
2. Drink lots of water
Once you’re in the habit of working out, the next baby step you want to master is drinking lots of water. By lots we mean at least half your body weight in ounces. This is important for many different reasons: your muscles use water to heal, you’re going to be sweating more, and it will help you feel more full. It’s a really great nutrition habit to get the habit of acing because it is free and doesn’t require a whole lot of willpower.
So, this one is simple. Pick your favorite water bottle, measure how many ounces fit in it. Then, figure out how many of those water bottles you need to get in a day. We often joke that the more water you’re drinking, the more time you’re spending in the bathroom, which means the less time you’re spending eating. It’s a joke, but it’s also kind of true.
We suggest getting in most of your water before lunch so you’re not spending all night in the bathroom. We also suggest hydrating as the FIRST thing you put in your body in the morning. Your body actually becomes dehydrated after sleeping all night, so it’s a really nice thing to do to fill it with hydration as you begin your day. Before your first cup of coffee or first meal, guzzle down some water.
3. Plan your food
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Another saying from our mentor Dave Ramsey is that you can wander into a mess (like debt), but you can’t wander out. You can “accidentally” have gained 15 pounds but you’re not going to accidentally lose it. Nope, it’s going to take a plan.
We break this food planning up a couple of different ways. First, as you’ll see in our intuitive eating video, we recommend you plan to eat healthy, delicious foods you enjoy. That means getting your caloric needs filled with whole, God-made foods. This actually takes planning since these foods are nutritionally dense but not calorically dense. On the other hand, your typical processed, fast-food, packaged garbage is calorically dense but seriously lacking in nutrition. So, in order to get enough stuff down your gullet, it takes planning.
Once we have an overall idea of what and how much you’re going to be eating, we ask that you take the time to plan it every day. You see, this isn’t something you necessarily have to do for the rest of your life. It is something you need to focus on while you’re in the thick of weight loss. You need to think, actively, about what you’re going to eat everyday. We ask that you do this at the beginning of the day (or the end of the day for the next day). Why? Because planning your food at this point helps to save from stress-induced decision making. We know part of a healthy lifestyle is not allowing you to make food decisions when you’re busy, stressed, tired or rushed. We take those bad-decision-inducing-circumstances out of the equation.
So, when you make your food plan in the morning, you’re on your best terms. You’re thinking with your best self in mind, you’ll make good decisions. Then, all you’ll have to do is follow your own advice all day and you’ll be winning! When we use this method, people really start to figure out what their nutrition problems are. Either they are emotionally eating and they didn’t really know it (we know this when they can’t stick to their own plan) or their plan isn’t pushing them enough to make weight-loss progress. Each of those requires work, but in different ways.
4. Check in daily
Of all the baby steps, this is usually everyone’s least favorite. We understand there is a lot of drama associated with the scale. We coach through that but we want to speed up the process. The drama you face when stepping on the scale can be solved so that we can use the data to make progress. In fact, our coach says that you should only step on the scale on the days you want to make progress on losing weight. With that in mind, we ask you to do it everyday. This is part of our method to get you really in touch with your body and your thoughts. Plus, you can use the scale as a way to see if your plan is working. When you step on the scale, you pretty much already know what it’s going to say. Yes, we know that our clients stop being surprised when they step on the scale. And, with our coaching and the help of the other baby steps, they actually start looking forward to stepping on the scale.
You’re also going to check in daily with your emotions. Start your day by seeing how you feel. Then ask yourself how you can make it better? By doing this, you’re going to create a life you love so that eventually you won’t need to turn to food or alcohol to make it better.
5. Close the kitchen
This is one baby step the entire family needs to adapt. Closing the kitchen means no grazing or snacking in between meals. Of course this helps with not eating calories you don’t need but, hey, it also means you don’t have dishes all day long. The most important component of this step is to stop eating after dinner. We prefer you’re done with dinner by 6, though we know many folks don’t have that ability in their schedule. So, we want you to wrap up eating for the day then brush your teeth and be done. This is one of the single best things you can do for your digestive system. It will also really help you lose weight. We do say some herbal tea with dinner or right after is a great way to help your digestive system before bed.
6. Intuitive eating
Yes, we know that intuitive eating sounds like just another buzzword. We get that. If you’ve got another term, we’re all for it. Otherwise, just understand that we teach four specific components of this term and we really want you to get them asap!
First, eat when you’re hungry. Yes, as a society we’re used to eating when it’s time to eat or when someone puts food in front of us. We want to suggest that you start listening to your body and eat only when you’re hungry. Yes, when you feel the hunger pains, that’s a clue to eat. Next, when you’re eating and you start to feel kind of full, stop eating. It’s basic advice, but it’s something we just don’t do very well as a society anymore.
Next, don’t eat food you hate. For some reason, we’ve all been convinced that we have to eat certain diet foods in order to lose weight. It’s just not true. We actually give our clients a LONG list of healthy, delicious, nutritious foods and have them circle their favorites. Then, we tell them only to shop & eat those healthy favorites. We understand their tastebuds will eventually expand. In the beginning, we just like you to get your brain wrapped around that what you’re eating is good, and you’re not being deprived. We also want your brain to know we’re not going to force feed it yucky food now or for the rest of your life just so you can “be healthy.”
You will also need to incorporate the 4 types of eating. We have an entire video on this, so we won’t belabor the point. But the key here is you’ll be mostly eating fuel foods and you’ll plan for JOY eating. With this intuitive eating method, we’re not ever “cheating” because this isn’t a test and you’re not a child. Rather, we know we always have fun and joy eating on the horizon so we don’t feel deprived either.
Eat food made by God, not man-made food. This simply means that you’re eating whole, real food most of the time. If it grows in nature, it’s all for you. If it comes in a package, a drive-thru or has ingredients you can’t pronounce, that’s made by man and it’s not great. The cool thing about food God made is your body knows how to process & digest it and it’s filling your body with all the nutrients and vitamins you need. Man-made food is just filling you up with junk. Literally. And guess what we bet you don’t want to be full of?
Next up, eat breakfast. We really like to see your metabolism up and running and breakfast is a great way to do that. We like to see you fueling your body intentionally, not just repeating bad eating habits from the past. We understand for many people, this can be tough. Sometimes we start out with something as simple as half a banana or one hardboiled egg. Whatever it takes, we just want to get you in the habit of eating a little bit for breakfast. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated.
Finally, we like to avoid carbs after lunch. We have the saying that carbs are not the enemy. America and the diet industry have made it seem like they are. However, a regular, healthy diet is naturally low-carb. Carbs are also your body’s preferred source of energy. That being said, you know you don’t need much energy at the end of the day. So, we like to recommend you get your carbs in early so you’ll be well supplied with energy throughout the day, but not for the latter part of the day when you’re winding down and going to go to bed. The problem is that the food you don’t use gets turned into fat and stored by your body. So, since most of us don’t want more fat, we can adopt this little rule to help us out.
7. Be the example.
When you’re at the point where you’re consistently moving your body, drinking lots of water, planning your food, getting in touch with your body & feelings daily and eating intuitively, your health will be an amazing example for everyone around you. You’ll be healthy & happy and showing people what is possible. In today’s world where the typical example being unhealthy, unhappy ,out o, on medications , tired nd stressed you’re going to shine like a beacon of what’s possible. When you do that, you give people permission to dream it’s possible for them.
Many of us are also parents and this example can really come into play for getting the next generation started right. You can change your family tree when it comes to food mindset, habits, health and more. We often see it start with the mom, move to the family and then out to friends and the community from there. Being the example means doing what is good and right, even if it’s different from what everyone else is doing.
This concept parallels the 7th baby Step we follow of Dave Ramsey’s: Live and Give Like No One Else. We ask people to do something drastically different: budget, get out of debt, pay off their mortgage and be generous. If you look around, that’s so very different than what. most Americans are doing. It’s weird. But it is setting an example that we know, if duplicated in our community, would make our world a better place.
In the same way, we love to see you being kind of weird because you’re setting an example, you’re modeling an amazing healthy life. That means you’re happy, confident, feeling good, not sick, strong. It means you’re showing people being healthy isn’t boring, it’s not complicated, it’s not a restricted life at all actually. It’s a more feel-good and free life!
So, there you have it. Those are our 7 Baby Steps to Losing Weight for Life.
Want a free worksheet to help you brainstorm on all of these steps and to help you start getting healthier right now? Cool, we’ve got that for you!
PS: If any of this resonated with you, we’d love to work with you 1-on-1. We teach our clients how to build a body they love and change habits slowly to match their goals. In a world with fake quick fixes, we help them adapt a lifestyle that they’ll want to keep. If that resonates with you, please get in touch with the form below!
We do have an advanced step which is that, in the most perfect world, our clients are drinking Shakeology (so good for you, your health and your gut) and most often not consuming flour, sugar and dairy. That’s for the advanced folks, the folks who are really ready to take it to the next level. It’s for the folks who find the first 7 steps really easy and are ready for more!