How to Lose Weight for a 21-Year-Old Woman Who Weighs 160 Pounds

Erratic schedules, eating on the run and a lack of structured, regular exercise can undermine any 21-year-old's goals to achieve a healthy weight. Cutting calories and increasing physical activity helps you lose weight at any age. Changes in your lifestyle can help you successfully reduce your 160-pound frame and will set up good habits to serve you for a lifetime.

This woman chooses vegetables and salads for meals and snacks. (Image: ferlistockphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Goal Setting

Realistic goals help you stay on track and feel successful during your weight-loss journey. Talk to your doctor about what's a healthy and realistic weight for you. If you're 5 feet 10 inches and trying to get down to 100 pounds, you'll set yourself up for frustration and failure. Determine how much weight you can realistically and healthfully drop from your 160 pounds given your height and then aim for a 1- to 2-pound-per-week loss, which is the healthiest and most sustainable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To lose at this rate, you need to cut out through diet, exercise or both about 500 to 1,000 calories more than you typically consume a day. Make exercise a priority; aim for a minimum of 30 minutes per day of brisk walking or sport activity most days of the week.

Get on Schedule

If you spend late nights partying or studying, you will be left with little energy for exercise or positive food choices. While not everyone drinks, a drinking binge can add hundreds, if not thousands of calories, to your daily intake and lower your inhibition so you're more likely to consume extra food. Study breaks or time with friends that involve pizza or other takeout can further derail your weight-loss goals. Your first step in losing weight is to plan out a schedule with consistent bed and wake times. You don't have to skip every party or outing with friends, but vow to leave at a reasonable hour. If you drink, limit yourself to just one or two drinks, and opt for lower-calorie options such as light beer or a glass of wine. If you're in school, do your best to fit your studying in during reasonable hours, rather than trying to cram in an all-night session. Healthy late-night munchies include cut-up veggies with salsa or hummus, or go for a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread instead of greasy, high-calorie fare.

Choose Foods Wisely

Make weight loss easier by eyeballing portion sizes and selecting foods that support your goals. Most meals should contain plentiful amounts of green vegetables, along with moderate servings of lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Fill up half your plate with the veggies, and then select a lean steak, chicken breast or piece of fish about the size of a deck of cards. Just 1/2 cup of whole grains -- such as brown rice or quinoa -- or a slice of whole-wheat bread rounds out your meal. The fiber in whole grains and vegetables helps fill you up without adding tons of calories, so you'll feel fuller with less.

Habit Makeovers

Resist the urge to skip meals to save calories; it only makes you more hungry and less selective at your next meal. Don't try to save money and time by stopping at your local fast-food establishment. Instead, visit a grocery store and go to their salad bar, pick up a rotisserie chicken or grab a package of hummus and baby carrots. If you're subject to a cafeteria-style dining experience -- head straight for the salad bar. Limit the toppings, such as croutons, cheese, creamy dressing and nuts; stick to grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, a few sunflower seeds and lots of raw, cut-up vegetables to fill you up. Keep your living space mostly temptation free -- keep apples, grapes, air-popped popcorn and baby carrots readily available for when you feel like snacking.

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