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I want to lose weight... but don't know where to start

I want to lose weight... but don't know where to start

By Steve Hendry, Personal Training Manager

So you want to get in shape, and drop a few of those extra pounds that are lingering around. For many people who have this goal, the first step is often the hardest, mostly because they don’t even know where the first step is. Well fortunately, this post is for you. Before starting a weight loss program, you need to determine the following pieces of information.

  1. How much weight do I want to lose?
  2. How long am I giving myself to hit this goal?
  3. Is my goal realistic?
  4. How am I going to accomplish my goal?
  5. Why do I want to lose this weight?

Ok, that 5th one might be a little philosophical, but it can always be important to remember why you started in the first place, because…I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this…and you might want to sit down…there are going to be times where this process is going to be difficult. Phew, man that feels good to get off my chest!

So let’s break down those questions into simple, easy to follow instructions.

  1. Starting with a clear concise goal will help put you on the right path. It will also be how you monitor progress so you can determine if your plan is working or failing. Now, maybe your goal is specific such as “my doctor told me to lose 20 lbs. for health reasons” or “I want to get back to my old high school weight”. Those are specific numbers, and that what you should be working towards. If you just have the goal of “Oh I’d like to lose a few pounds” you may not be ready for this process. If that is what your goal currently is, then pick a number, and commit to it. Trust me, it will make the process a whole lot simpler.
  2. Our timeline of our goal will determine how realistic it is to achieve it. A healthy fat loss goal is approximately 1-1.5 lbs. per week. Sometimes it can go as high as 2 lbs. per week early on, but this is a very difficult pace to uphold, so shoot for closer to 1. So if your goal is to lose 5o lbs. and you want to do it in 90 days…then you need to either revisit your timeline, or your target weight loss. Now if you were to say you want to lose 50 lbs. in 1 year…now we’re talking! So make sure your goal, and your timeline are in sync, otherwise frustration is going to settle in, and you’re going to struggle sticking to the plan.
  3. We already covered this one…but I am going to remind you so you don’t forget…set a goal of 1-1.5 lbs. of fat loss per week, and then pick your timeline based off of that. I wanted to repeat myself so you know that this is the best and safest way to go about this process.
  4. Now it’s time to get to the nitty gritty…the how! Weight loss can be tricky, since there are so many people trying to sell you detox teas, and body wraps, and tapeworm voodoo magic. These products do a great job of dropping weight…from your wallet! But in all seriousness, it comes down to the simple process of eating healthier. Below is a chart that breaks down the importance of different elements in dieting for weight loss. Now just for the record, I didn’t create this chart. I am “borrowing” it from Renaissance Periodization. They are all certified nutritionists, and dieticians, and doctors and what not, so they are very smart…listen to what they say!

Dieting for body composition

As you may notice, the most important feature is the calorie consumption. Since this is the biggest and most vital one, here is a simple formula for you to follow.

1 lb of fat loss = 3500 calorie deficit

So essentially, you must burn 3500 more calories than you consume. So, if you want to lose 1 lb. of fat per week, you have to eat 3500 less calories than you burn on that given week. This breaks down to only a 500 calorie deficit per day…not that bad right?

But how many calories am I burning per day? Well that depends on a whole mess of information, but we can start with your basic metabolic rate. And guess what? There is also a formula for that too! Below is a link to a great BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator so you can get a rough estimate of where to start.


So there you go…now you know where to start, and how to take the first step. Now you just got to go put in the work!