Losing Weight: How do I get started?

This page gives advice on how to get started losing weight.



The Importance of Setting a Goal 

As weight loss involves making permanent changes to what you eat and drink, whilst increasing your activity levels, losing weight in a healthy way can be a big challenge. Sustaining these changes in the longer term can be difficult.

Research into why some people lose weight and keep it off, while others do not, has found that those who succeed often set a realistic and achievable target weight loss goal, with the development of a personalised plan, outlining what they plan to do and how they are going to do it.

Questions to Ask 

When thinking about weight loss, ask yourself the following questions to help you develop your own personalised weight loss plan:

  • Why do I want to lose weight?
  • What is a realistic weight loss goal for me?
  • How important is weight loss to me?
  • What has work and not worked for me in the past? Why?
  • What steps can I do to help me lose weight?
  • What is the first step I could make (what; when; why?)
  • What may get in my way?
  • How can I overcome these obstacles?
  • What support do I need?
  • How confident do I feel that I will reach my goal?
  • When will I review my goal?
  • What changes (if any) do I need to make to my plans?

Set a Goal: Make it SMART 

Once you have thought about the above questions and decided on what dietary changes you are going to make, it is important to set yourself a goal. When setting goals be sure to make sure they are S.M.A.R.T.

The use of S.M.A.R.T goals helps to ensure that the plan you develop is achievable, realistic and importantly clearly outlines exactly how you will lose weight.


Be clear about what you are going to do. Don’t just say “I am going to eat less”, be clear on how you would eat less e.g. are you going to cut down on mid meal snacks; reduce portion sizes at meal times; stop having a supper; adjust your diabetes medication before exercise, meaning you don’t have to eat to prevent a low blood glucose.


You should be able to measure your success e.g. “I won’t have a mid morning snack”; “instead of eating 3 Weetabix at breakfast I will eat 1”. By making your change measurable, you will be able to assess if you have been successful.


It is important to be realistic about the changes you are going to make. Often people set a goal that is unrealistic and become disheartened when they don’t achieve it. You are more likely to succeed if you make small, gradual changes. Start with small changes you feel comfortable with and build from there


Make sure the changes you plan to make will help you to achieve your goal.

Time Specific

It is always important to review your goal to understand if you have achieved it, or if not, why not, what could I do differently? To help with this, write down when you want to have achieved you change by. This can help you workout if you have achieved your goal.

To help you set your goal, complete the SMART worksheet.

Lapse Is Not a Collapse 

It is completely normal to have times when following your plan becomes more of a challenge. The message is not to give up; a lapse is not a collapse! Try to get back on track as quickly as you can. The sooner you do this, the more successful you will be. It is important to learn from any lapses to try to make sure they don’t happen again. Consider the following:

  • Why did I go off track?
  • What can I do to stop this from happening again?
  • Review your plan.

Additional Resources 

More information and support to help with weight management can be found below:

The NHS has developed a free, twelve week guide which combines advice on healthy eating and physical activity:

The British Heart Foundation has produced a detailed information leaflet to support weight loss:

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