Losing weight can be a challenge, but if you're serious about your commitment, make a plan and stick to it, you will get results. Any healthy weight loss plan incorporates a nutritious diet and regular physical activity and it's not a quick fix. Recognize that losing a significant amount of weight, in a way that lets you keep it off, is a long term project. Discuss any weight loss plan with your doctor before making dietary or exercise-related changes.
Keep a food journal for one week, writing down everything you eat and drink. Record the calories for each item to get an idea of about how many calories you consume on a typical day. Include a rating of your hunger levels throughout the day on a scale of one to 10 to help you determine when you feel the most hungry.
Set a realistic goal for weight loss. Losing more than 1 to 2 lbs. per week isn't usually healthy, and it's likely you'll put the weight back on if you try to lose too quickly. Include short-term goals you can reach within a couple of weeks and a long-term or ultimate goal.
Make a list of reasons you want to lose weight and benefits you'll experience once you've lost it. Include anything that will help motivate you, such as better health, more self-confidence or more energy.
Write a list of non-food rewards you can give yourself for reaching small goals, to help motivate you during your weight-loss plan. Include anything you enjoy and wouldn't normally do for yourself, such as a spa visit or a weekend out playing golf with friends.
Reduce your daily calorie intake. Weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you take in. Since about 3,500 calories equals 1 pound of fat, cutting your daily calorie intake by 500 calories can help you lose 1 pound per week.
Eat healthier foods that will allow you to feel full without adding empty calories. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein, such as skinless poultry and beans, are low in calories and provide the nutrients your body needs.
Replace high-calorie beverages, such as regular soda and flavored coffee, with calorie-free options, such as flavored water and unsweetened tea.
Work 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise into your daily routine. You don't have to work out for 30 minutes at one time, so if 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening is easier for you to manage, make that your plan.
Engage in physical activities you enjoy and vary your routine. Work out with a friend or family member if possible to help keep you motivated.
Include strength training in your workout plan at least two to three times per week. Building muscle mass will increase your strength and endurance to make exercise easier. Rest for at least one day between strength-training sessions.
Assess your problem areas if you stray from your plan or don't lose weight for a week or more. Make a list of things you can do instead of eating if you feel bored, sad or anxious.
Weigh yourself once a week to monitor your progress. Weight naturally fluctuates slightly from day to day, so weighing yourself every day may not give you an accurate picture of your progress.
Don't starve yourself in an attempt to lose weight. Your body needs calories to function and intentionally depriving your body of fuel and nutrients will actually hinder the weight-loss process.
- ACSM: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss...
- "Good Housekeeping"; Women's Guide to Heart Health at Every Age; Janice Graham
- AHA: Make the Effort to Prevent Heart Disease with Life's Simple 7
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Laughter Is Good for Your Heart, According to a New University of Maryland Medical Center Study; November 2000