Plan Your Diet & Fitness This Weekend

Like most people, you probably made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape and lose weight. You don’t need a resolution. You need a plan. This weekend, you will plan your diet and fitness goals for the new year.

Track Your Data

Before you begin planning your diet and fitness regimen, consider how you will keep track of your food and exercise. There are several reasons to track your data as you go though a weight loss or health program:

  • Accountability – You might hesitate to have an unhealthy snack or second helping if you know you’ll have to write it down later.
  • Encouragement – To stay motivated by watching your weight graph go down or by seeing that you’ve been eating healthier meals.
  • Milestones – Reward yourself when you hit a specified percentage or other milestone for improvement.
  • Patterns – When you track your data you have the opportunity to observe patterns and relationships between your behavior and results.

You can use any of a variety of tools to track your food and fitness. Below are a few suggestions:

  • My Fitness Pal – This free online tool can be accessed in a browser or an app for smartphones and tablets. It has an interface for tracking your food, exercise, weight, measurements, the number of steps you take every day, and how much water you drink. This site has a large database of nutritional information for over four million food items. You can connect over 50 external apps to My Fitness Pal to pass data in either direction. For example, you can use a fitness tracker device, such as a Fitbit or BodyMedia device. There is also a great community that can support you throughout your journey.
  • SparkPeople – In years past, SparkPeople led the pack in free online food and fitness tracking. It has all of the features of My Fitness Pal, but a larger community and database. It also has a great recipe database with a great search and rating system. However, I can no longer recommend SparkPeople and have stopped using it because the functionality of the site is completely diminished by the pop-up, roll-over, video, audio, and other annoying advertising.
  • Weight Watchers – Although you must pay to be a member of Weight Watchers, this program offers a huge support system. There are online-only memberships available as well as local groups that you can join. The Weight Watchers lifestyle has worked for millions and the site is well-maintained and updated.
  • Microsoft Excel – You can create spreadsheets and charts on your computer and you don’t need an internet connection to access these.
  • Database – You can even write your own database if you’re a geek like me.

Set Smart Goals

WARNING:  You should consult a doctor before making dramatic changes to your lifestyle.

You need to SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. “I’m going to eat healthier and exercise more so that I can lose weight” is not a smart goal. Take time to consider your goals. For example:

“By April 15, I will lose 20 pounds by doing 180 minutes of cardio per week, working out for 45 minutes per week with free weights, and eating between 1200 and 1400 calories every day.”

Set small, attainable mini-goals with rewards so that you can have measurable milestones. For example:

  • When I lose 5 pounds, I can buy something from my Amazon Wishlist
  • When I lose 10% of my starting weight, I can buy a new outfit
  • When I reach my goal weight, I can buy a new wardrobe

For more information, see Set Weight Loss Mini-Goals.

Plan Your Workout Space

Whether you have a full gym in your basement or building, a local gym membership, or you barely have room to do yoga, you need to plan your workout space. Regardless of your budget, you can have an area to exercise. You can do a full workout using your iPad, with or without equipment. For information about creating a workout space, go to The Organized Workout Space.

When you make your plan, make it personalized. Understand yourself and structure your workout space accordingly. If you love running outdoors, don’t buy a treadmill. If you know that you won’t work out at home, don’t invest in expensive equipment. If you know you won’t go to the gym, don’t join one. If you prefer to work out at home, make your own space.

Author’s Note:  I set up my exercise room in a spare bedroom.


You can spend as much or as little as you like on an exercise space. You can use equipment in your living room or have a dedicated space. But the ultimate goal is to find a space that is convenient for you with tools that help you accomplish your goals.

Plan Your Activities

Exercise – we all need it to be healthy. Exercise doesn’t have to mean doing aerobics or lifting weights. But you do need to work with your lifestyle. Before you plan an exercise regimen, know your limitations and know your assets. If you don’t know what you’re doing, educate yourself and consult your doctor.

After you’ve spoken with your doctor and done your research, you should have an idea of what your plan should be. You need to do a little cardio – whether you walk, run, or use an elliptical machine or bicycle. You need to do cardio every day. You should also do a little strength training. Don’t work the same muscle groups more than twice a week. They need time to heal. Do some yoga. It’ll make you more limber. Below is an example plan:

C25K (with warm-up and cool down)

See the C25K program for more information

Walk (30 min)

Lifehacker Monday/Friday Full Workout

See the Lifehacker Workout program for more information

C25K (with warm-up and cool down)

Yoga on the Wii (20 min)

See the C25K program for more information

Learn more about Yoga on Your iPad or Yoga on the Wii

Walk (30 min)

Lifehacker Wednesday Deck of Cards Workout

See the Lifehacker Workout program for more information

C25K (with warm-up and cool down)

Yoga on the Wii (20 min)

See the C25K program for more information

Learn more about Yoga on Your iPad or  Yoga on the Wii

Walk (30 min)

Lifehacker Monday/Friday Full Workout

See the Lifehacker Workout program for more information

Work out 60-min with trainer including 20-min cardio

Here’s a good article on about Finding a Trainer

Although sleep is technically the absence of activity, it plays a vital role in your overall health. You know your body better than anyone. For example, if you don’t function well on less than 6 hours sleep, but are tired and cranky with 8 hours, plan for a solid 7 hours of sleep. You can wear a tracker at night, such as the Fitbit tracker, or you can even use an app on your phone, such as the Sleep Cycle app, to monitor your sleeping habits.

Plan Your Meals

When you’re trying to eat healthier and stick to a good diet, there can be many obstacles that hinder your progress. There are snacks sitting in the pantry or your office desk drawer. You’re tired after a busy day and don’t feel like cooking. You get ready to make something and suddenly realize you don’t have all the ingredients. You finally decide to eat that healthy item in the fridge only to learn that it has gone bad. That tasty-looking new recipe turned out to be not-so-tasty. There’s nothing decent to pack for lunch so you eat out instead. The key to overcoming these obstacles is preparation.

You need to complete the following tasks to organize your food plan:

  • Get your head in the game – The first step to changing your life with a healthy diet is to want it. Don’t do it because it’s January first, or because you think you should. If you don’t want change, you will not get it.
  • Clear out the junk – Get the bad food out of your home and workspace. If it’s a problem for you, take away the temptation. Get your food organized!
  • Plan ALL your meals in advance – Cook at home as much as possible so you know exactly is what in your food. Plan variety when you need it. Keep it simple, and plan your reheats.

Be Accountable

Don’t underestimate accountability. If you know someone is watching you or if you have an appointment with someone, it can be embarrassing to skip a workout or cheat on your diet. Here are some ways to make yourself more accountable.

  • Weight Loss Competition – Start a weight loss competition at work, at church, or with friends.
    Author’s Note:  From Jan 4 – Mar 14 we are having a weight loss competition at work. There are 10 of us and we all put in $10 to start. Every week the person that did the worst as a percentage of their starting weight has to pay the winner $5. At the end, whoever did the best as a percentage of their starting weight overall gets the $100 pot. Woo Hoo! Every week I send out a graph showing what everyone’s percentages are.
  • Friends – Talk with friends and tell them what you’re doing. Really. It’s embarrassing if you don’t follow through.
  • Facebook -Try posting to all your friends and family about what you’re doing. Again, potential embarrassment.
  • Blog – If you’re a wacko on the internets that likes to post your personal stuff… Can you imagine? All kidding aside, there are some great weight loss blogs out there inspiring others.

Take Action

Spend the weekend learning about fitness and healthy food. Check out some apps to make it easier to stay motivated. Make a plan for the coming week and enter into your calendar and your food tracking app. Work hard during the coming week, and check out your progress next weekend. Then make a better plan for the following week. Talk to your friends. Improve your life. You can do this!

Author: Steph

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