It took more time than you think for those extra pounds to push you into the next larger clothing size. A large amount of weight loss can't be accomplished in a week -- or likely even a month. The proven method to lose weight is to count calories and boost your level of physical activity. If you're doing everything right, you should be able to safely lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. If you're not, take a look at what you can do to speed up your weight loss plan.
Do a calorie re-count. Harvard School of Public Health explains the equation to weight gain is anything but complex: if you consume more calories than you burn, the excess is stored in the form of body fat. One pound of body fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Cutting 500 calories from what your body needs to maintain its current weight should result in 1 pound of weight loss each week. But you don't have to cut calories that drastically; if you only cut out 100 calories each day -- less than what's in a single can of regular soda -- you'll lose 10 pounds of weight in one year.
Eliminate sugary, fatty snacks from your life. Skip the calorie-dense snacks that may be a part of your customary routine, such as the gourmet coffee drink you have for breakfast or the cookies you mindlessly reach for after a meal. If you crave a snack, reach for healthy, lower-calorie substitutes, such as 3 1/2 cups of air-popped popcorn or 1 2/3 cups grapes, each of which weigh in at 100 calories.
Eat servings -- not portions. A portion is the amount of food you should eat in a single sitting. The Cleveland Clinic explains that your perception of what constitutes a serving size is skewed by generous "super-sized" portions you get when eating out. Consult the Nutrition Facts panel on the foods you buy to see how many servings there are in the package or can so you don't overeat. When you prepare your own food, downsize your portions visually. A 3-ounce serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. A baked potato is about the size of a fist. And a serving of cheese is the size of four die stacked together.
Give some love to healthy foods. A healthy diet that gives you all of your essential nutrients consists of foods from all four food groups, including vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods, low- or non-fat dairy foods, lean sources of protein, nuts and seeds. Keep the discretionary calories you get from fatty and sugary foods at a bare minimum; according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many people go overboard on foods high in sugar and fat, as well as alcohol. Most people have only between 100 and 300 discretionary calories at their disposal.
Ask your doctor if it's safe to get active. If you want to speed up weight loss, regular exercise gives you a distinct advantage. But, there are times when you need your doctor's OK. If you're a man or woman age 45 and 55, respectively, if you've been sedentary for a long time or if you have health complications such as heart disease or diabetes that make physical activity a risky endeavor, seek your doctor's advice before hitting the gym.
Focus on cardiovascular activity. Cardiovascular activity is any exercise that gets your blood and heart pumping and makes you break a sweat. According to the American Council on Exercise, most healthy adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity almost every day of the week. Don't limit yourself to walking or jogging; choose an activity that motivates you to keep moving, be it dancing, rowing or cycling.
Build lean muscle. ACE indicates that strength training often falls a distant second to cardiovascular activity; however, it's important, because it increases your lean muscle mass -- and lean muscle burns more calories, even at rest. Start out with strength training sessions twice a week. Hit all of the major muscle groups. Once you can sufficiently perform 12 repetitions with ease, increase your repetitions and resistance.
The more weight you have to lose, the harder it is to lose it, points out Harvard School of Public Health. The best time to take a close look at your diet and implement an exercise program is when you first notice the numbers on the scale creeping upward.
- Harvard School of Public Health: How to Get to Your Healthty Weight
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign McKinley Health Center: Lose Weight the Healthy Way
- American Council on Exercise: Don't Deprive Yourself of the Rewards of Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training 101
- Cleveland Clinic: Weight Management