How to Get Strong & Skinny

Having excess body weight is more than just a cosmetic issue — it also contributes to serious medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. Excess weight can also interfere with daily activities and movement, causing your muscles to weaken from disuse. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods and lifestyle changes that can help you lose weight and get strong and skinny.

A strong, lean woman jogging up stairs by a lake. (Image: lzf/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Count calories. You must reduce your caloric intake by 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of body fat. Cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your diet to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week, a healthy rate of weight loss.

Step 2

Consume a variety of plant-based foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits to increase your fiber intake. Fiber helps fill you up, reducing hunger while dieting. Select low-fat dairy and lean meat products to cut back on saturated fats.

Step 3

Do moderate intensity cardio exercises for at least 30 minutes five days each week or high intensity cardio for 75 minutes each week. Aerobic exercises -- such as walking, jogging, dancing and swimming -- provide cardiovascular exercise to burn calories and help you lose weight. A 160-pound person can burn from 200 to more than 300 calories per hour while walking. A 240-pound person burns from 300 to 470 calories during one hour of walking, depending upon walking speed.

Step 4

Strength train using your body weight or a set of free weights at least twice a week. Work all your major muscle groups -- back, shoulders, chest, arms, abdomen, buttocks, thighs and calves. Allow at least 24 hours between workouts for a muscle group.

Step 5

Expect a setback — the lifestyle changes required for weight loss can be difficult. Do not give up, just start over the next day, reminding yourself that change does not happen all at once.

Tip

Consult with your medical provider before you begin a weight-loss diet or exercise program. Ask your doctor to help you establish goals that are appropriate for your age and body type.

Warning

Redbook warns that stress can make weight loss more difficult. This is because your body releases hormones such as cortisol that can slow the metabolism and increase your appetite. To combat this, find ways to reduce stress every day. Consider taking a bubble bath, reading a good book, listening to favorite music or doing yoga.

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