Beginners, This Is Our Simple Guide To Losing Weight For The First Time

The decision to lose weight and change your physique is not an easy one. Sometimes it comes after a shock diagnosis, a poor reading in blood results or the realisation that none of your clothes seem to fit like they used to. Perhaps you are feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, you lose breath when you climb the stairs or your life has been turned upside down (COVID lockdowns, increase in stress, an unexpected injury)… Whatever your reason for losing weight, your decision to make a change has to come with some serious considerations, patience, self-love (not loathing) and a firm commitment to yourself. Let’s look at the best ways to guide this journey. 

Make realistic plans

There is no point telling yourself that you are going to do 2 workouts every single day and start a new diet that requires endless cooking of meals with recipes you don’t even enjoy eating. Think about realistic commitments that can fit within your life and that can enhance your life, not overtake your life! If you hate going to the gym, perhaps schedule a few walks with a friend or your favourite Podcast each week. If you love chocolate biscuits don’t ban them, enjoy a couple once a week with a cup of tea… eat them slowly and savour them. 


Pull out your diary and incorporate some structure and routines to support this journey. For example:

    1. Saturday morning – Plan your meals for the week and engage in a physical activity you don’t have time to do during the workweek (bike ride with family, mountain climb with a friend, head to the pool for a swim)
    2. Sunday – Head to the shops with a clear shopping list of what you need. Don’t go to the shops feeling hungry! Prep a few things to get ahead (make some overnight oats, chop some veggie sticks, hard boil some eggs, poach some chicken…)
    3. Monday – Start the week with a 45 min walk before work or park further away from work and take the stairs. With food, perhaps try a Meatless Monday. 

These suggestions are just generic, but by creating routines, habits and rituals that fit within your life, you are likely to be more successful at losing weight and creating lasting change. Some of these things may not seem like much, but it’s all about changing things up, trying something different… but keeping it realistic and achievable. 

Also read: 5 Habits Fit People Live By

Seek professional advice

This may be heading to the GP for a bit of a total body checkup (blood pressure, weight, perhaps some blood tests) and if required, necessary referrals to see a dietitian, a counsellor, an exercise physiologist or other qualified professionals who can support you and your individual needs in a safe way. For some people, this is part of creating a baseline for improvement and identifying what needs to happen for you to create long term and successful change. 

Don’t get fixated on numbers

Weighing yourself multiple times a day is not a great idea. It may simply be a reflection of how hydrated you are, how premenstrual you are or if you’ve done a good poo! If weighing yourself is important to you, do it once a week at the same time. Instead, focus on how your clothes feel or maybe use a measuring tape to reflect the change. Scales should never define your true worth or your overall progress. 

Also read: 5 12WBTer’s Share What They Wish They Knew On Day 1 Of Their Weight Loss Journey

Enlist supporters

Find a friend who might want to join you for a walk, a healthy lunch or who you can confide in. Losing weight shouldn’t feel lonely. If you are spending all your time with people who lead an unhealthy lifestyle, it’s very hard to make healthy changes when those around you are not. Rituals that include boozy weekend lunches or workplace coffee and cake dates can be hard to resist. It doesn’t mean an end to your social life, but more an adjustment and forward planning so that if you are going to the pub, you have a plan of attack in mind. 

Make water your number one drink

A lot of people simply need to take a look at what they are drinking across the course of the day. This can contribute greatly to your overall energy intake. By swapping your ‘energy drink’ for some sparkling mineral water or even a herbal tea, you are reducing your overall energy and staying hydrated. It’s a simple change that can make a huge difference. 

Also read: How Much Water Should You Be Drinking Each Day (And How To Drink More Of It)

Don’t be in a hurry

The lure of a detox tea promising fast results may be tempting… but seriously, losing weight and long term change takes time and patience. When you attempt weight loss for the first time, try and focus on making healthier life choices and improving your vitality. Prioritise quality sleep, reducing stress, eating more wholefoods and moving more each day. When you do that, the weight loss will come easier and will be sustainable long term. 

Everyone has a unique set of challenges and individual requirements – these are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling. If you feel as though you need help with structure and support, 12WBT is set out to help with your meal planning, guide your exercise and provide a community of like-minded people to support you. Be kind to yourself and focus on realistic progress, not unattainable perfection. You’ve got this! 
Lisa Donaldson, APD, M.Nutr&Diet, B.Edu
Lisa is the Lead Dietitian for 12WBT. With a Masters in Nutrition & Dietietics as well as a Bachelor of Education, Lisa is keen to help all 12 Weekers understand how to achieve health for life. Lisa studied Sports Dietetics at the Australian Institute of Sport and has a keen interest in gastrointestinal health. A highly regarded communicator, Lisa is a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, the ‘Dietitian in Residence’ at the University of Canberra and a lecturer at the Australian Defence Force Academy. She has also been an expert on ABC Television’s Ask the Dr Series.

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