The other day I was sipping a tall skinny vanilla latte (4 points) at Starbucks with my dad. He was complimenting me on my ongoing weight loss success. (I can’t even believe that’s a real sentence in my world.) He asked me if the weight loss process has gotten any easier. I’ve been at this for a little over a year now and lost 65+ pounds. The answer is far more complex than the question.

The answer is yes, but no.

It’s easier because I know what to do. I know what works. But it’s not easier because knowing it, is not doing it. Through the course of that conversation I identified four things I do every day. I did not start doing all these things at once. But they are now part of my existence on an hour-by-hour basis.

I want to share them with you because they matter. They have brought me to weight loss success I’ve never experienced before. I hope that this will help you get on track and start reaching your goals. I follow the Weight Watchers SmartPoints program so I’m going to refer to points for simplicity. Whatever program you use, just replace points with that word … like calories or servings, etc.

Step 1: Track your food
Whether you’re just starting out or have been at this awhile, Track. Your. Food. Whatever you eat. Be accountable. Know your limit for the day. Write. It. Down. This matters because there’s no other way to see where the points are going and understand what changes you need to make. In the early days of this journey I wanted a chocolate malt from Culvers. So I had it. But I was accountable for those 28 points — which leads me to the next point. Is it worth it?

Step 2: Ask yourself “Is It Worth It?”
Sometimes the answer is yes. Other times it’s no. My mom is an amazing baker. Our family favorite cookies (Crunchy Jumbles or Velma’s Bars) are ALWAYS worth it to me (2 or 3 points each depending on the size of the cookie or the bar). It helps that my mom makes the cookies bite size and cuts the Velma’s bars pretty small too — it reduces the amount of points in each one so I can satisfy my desire without blowing my entire day. That said, because I’ve been spoiled with homemade baked goods, it’s now pretty easy for me to pass up sweets that are not homemade. Now, don’t think I’m a snob or that I haven’t cheated and taken store bought treats to events — I have — but I choose not to eat them. I have decided it’s just not worth it to ME. But that’s MY choice, and I don’t judge others for loving store-bought baked goods.

Step 3: Plan your meals
This is a TOUGH one! And, it’s not one of the ones I tackled early on! I’m better at it now, but still have a lot of room for improvement. I find that everything is more manageable when I know what’s coming — foodwise. I have a pretty solid routine that leaves me enough wiggle room for dinner so that if we have a last minute change of plans (think pancakes instead of chicken) I’ll be OK in meeting my points target for the day. However, this works in tandem with Step 1. If you know what you ate for breakfast, lunch and snacks then you can make a better decision at dinner.

Step 4: Set small goals
I decided to lose 150 pounds, but after that, I just wanted to lose 1, then 2 or 4, then I started looking to 5 pound increments. Today, after 65 pounds, I only look for a continued downward trend. I don’t care if I’m down .2 or .4 or 2.4! As long as it keeps going down. And, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s up a pound, but I keep tracking my food, I keep planning my meals and I keep moving forward because I know it works. Then, one day, my pants started to be loose. I kept wearing them that way. I did not buy one piece of new clothing until I lost nearly 60 pounds. This was probably extreme, but it was a constant reminder of how far I had come. Maybe your goal isn’t about the pounds, but about what you eat each day. That’s OK. Set small goals that work for your situation.

I know that’s a long-winded answer to a very simple question. But, weight loss isn’t simple. I think the process becomes more ingrained and I think my approach to eating has changed. I’d never say it’s easier because choosing to make the right food choices isn’t easy. I weigh (no pun intended) my options at every meal. I think through the possible outcomes of my choices. I sit at a restaurant and look up point values for food on my Weight Watchers app before I decide what to order. I do what I need to do to be successful. I challenge you to do the same.

What are your steps to success?