A successful weight loss needs a plan. Plan it as you would a vacation. You wouldn't withdraw your last 2000 dollars from the bank and start driving, would you? No, you would plan the trip! Imagine if you didn't. You could easily blow all of your money, come home penniless, or in debt, wishing you had done it differently, or gone a different direction. It is too late, you haven't seen a thing you wanted to and are broke. If you had planned, you would have asked--Where am I going? How much will it cost? What will I take? What will I do there? When will I come back? Chances are you would have had a great trip if you had planned. Each of these 5 vacation questions are similar to the steps below that pertain to weight loss. Planning a trip can be exciting and fun, and so can this! 1. Decide on the specific plan. Read magazines, surf the net, check out books at the library or ask your doctor. Educate yourself thoroughly on the different plans out there. Choose a healthy plan that works for you, and make sure that is one that you can live with! Will you do Weight Watchers? The Zone? Jenny Craig? Deal A Meal? TOPS? Your own balanced diet? The three of us started with balanced diets of 1800 calories a day, and approximately 30 fat grams daily. We presently intake approximately 1500 calories a day with 20-30 fat grams daily. 2. Pick a goal weight. This should be subject to change. Have a close range in mind, but know that as you get closer you may realize it may be too light or too heavy for your build. Also, very important, break it down into small goals along the way. Choose weights that represent something, so you will have many short term goals to help keep you motivated. Seeing that the next goal is 6 pounds away is much nicer than seeing 10 pounds down. 90 to go! Jennifer has 7 mini-goals listed in her journal, with a brief note as to why that weight is a goal. 3. Decide how long it will take you to lose. This should be a reasonable goal! Do not kid yourself that it will come off quickly. As much as we'd like to shed it fast, it took time to gain it, an it will take time to lose it. For many people one pound a week OR 1% of body weight lost per week is a healthy rate. Count it up and mark it on a calendar. It sounds like such a long time, but wasn't it just yesterday you had that skinny picture taken? 4. Decide how you will achieve this without falling back. We lived many years eating and living an unhealthy lifestyle. Going from that to how we live today would be just as hard as quitting anything cold turkey--alcohol, smoking,nail biting,etc. This is a total lifestyle change, and should be taken on with care. Dip your toes in so you'll have the courage to jump in all the way! For many people, eating an unhelathy diet is a habit, a very hard habit to break! Start small and work up so you don't feel deprived. Some of our first steps were (not necessarily in this order) cutting down on carbonated drinks, and increasing water consumption. Cutting out all fried foods, choosing leaner cuts of meat, trying new fruits and veggies, cleansing our houses of the unhealthy foods that we found tempting,buying low-fat and low-cal snacks, exercising in small amounts with gradual improvement, etc. 5. Find a support goup! This could be a formal support group, like TOPS or Weight Watchers with scheduled visits, an online support group, a friend or group of friends that also want to lose weight, or any other means that you find motivating. Rely on these people to help you, and always be there for them!