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Think Your Way to Healthy Eating

A teen learns how to change her thinking about eating well and loses weight.

Step 2: Set a Goal, Make a Plan

Julie decided that in order to reach a healthy weight, she'd have to make a plan.

Favret says: Making a plan and goal-setting are two keys to success.

Here's why -- just saying "I want to lose weight" doesn't count as a goal. It is not going to get you where you want to be.

"In fact, it may be setting yourself up for failure," says Favret. "What we need to do is to break it down to a series of achievable goals that will lead to that end result."

Something like getting 60 minutes of exercise five days a week may be an achievable goal for you. Or slowly build up to that up by making your goal adding 15 minutes of activity a day and then holding that level for a week. Make goals small and specific.

Change is hard. It's so much easier to make small changes. When you see you're making progress, that can help keep you on track and motivated, Favret says.

Step 3: Bring Awareness to Eating

Julie realized she'd have to start paying attention to her eating habits in order to make healthy changes.

"I'm usually just eating it, not thinking about it," she says.

To become more mindful of her eating habits, Julie's mom suggested that Julie write down what she was eating. By doing that, Julie got an idea of what types of food and how much she was eating and when.

Favret says: Food journaling may be a useful tool when you first start working toward a healthy weight.

"It could provide a snapshot into what a person's eating is like," she says.

But Favret cautions against making food journaling a habit. You should be able to enjoy your food and not be constantly tallying what you eat. Do it for about three days. See what you're eating for a couple of week days and maybe a weekend, she says.

"Journaling can provide us with an idea of eating patterns," Favret says. "What's important with a food journal is that you can recognize, 'OK, I had three snacks during one Saturday afternoon.' Then you can ask yourself, 'Why am I doing that? Maybe I am eating when I am bored.'"

If so, you can come up with other ways to deal with boredom. You might decide to go for a walk or call a friend instead of eating.

But if you make journaling a habit, it can feel like a diet. Diets don't work, because they're too hard to stick to and they aren't healthy.

"It always gets back to being able to follow through with specific goals and behavior changes across the big picture" Favret says. "That is what brings us to a healthy weight."