Before embarking on a program of weight loss, it's wise to spend a couple of months monitoring your daily weight, keeping a weight log, and producing the charts at the end of each month. You'll become accustomed to the procedures and, more important, familiar with how your weight behaves from day to day and the trend from week to week. You'll be in a better position then to appreciate the changes that occur when you cut back on calories. If you decide to try the exercise program in chapter , it makes sense to start right away and get a couple of months of slow progress under your (ample) belt before beginning weight loss. Why? Because it will give you a base line for the shape you were in before losing weight and a powerful incentive to continue weight loss once you discover how much relatively small reductions in weight contribute to your fitness and stamina, seen directly in your reaction to exercise and the rate you advance from rung to rung. Also, exercising stimulates the growth of muscle tissue. As you diet, the body can consume muscles as well as fat to meet its calorie needs. Exercise not only protects and increases your muscle strength during a diet, it causes more rapid loss of fat. Since you're adding muscle tissue, not burning it, fat remains the only source of energy and is consumed all the more rapidly.
Before embarking on any project, it's important to have a plan. A plan is a statement of goals and expectations, not a straitjacket; plans can be changed as events unfold. But without a plan, there's no standard against which to measure your progress, and consequently no feeling of accomplishment as you approach the goal.