You're ready to begin a weight reduction program, and you'd like a realistic estimate of your six-month weight-loss results. You know that dropping the weight — and keeping it off — depends on creating a solid foundation that includes healthy and appealing foods and physical activities you actually enjoy. Pair these equally important pillars together, and you've set the stage for an optimum outcome.
Select a Diversified Food Plan
When it comes to finding a calorie-conscious food plan that works for your needs, quality and variety are important. The USDA provides a useful food plan template in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015–2020. The plan includes varied protein sources such as lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, beans and nuts. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products are also important. Minimize foods with cholesterol, saturated fats, trans fats, salt and added sugar.
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To keep your menu interesting, experiment with vegetables and fruits you haven't tried before. Fresh produce is always a treat, but frozen or canned varieties (without added sugar or salt) will also work fine. Preparing foods in different ways, and with healthy garnishes and accompaniments, will also help jazz up your meals.
Ramp up Your Physical Activity
If you think that exercise pertains only to gym workouts and sweaty runs around the neighborhood, think again. Many types of physical activity help keep you active and help you burn calories, which compensates for the food you eat. Simply put, you're balancing both sides of an equation, working within the framework of a six-month weight-loss program.
When you mow the lawn, give your house a good cleaning or weed the garden, you're racking up physical activity points. For more structured exercise, consider lap swimming, low-impact aerobics, yoga or brisk daily walks. Join your dog for a spirited game of "fetch," or practice your flying disc skills. Always respect your body's capabilities, and don't be afraid to try something new. As a guideline, spread out 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, or engage in 75 minutes of vigorous weekly exercise.
Six-Month Weight Loss Expectations
Let's assume you follow a healthy food plan with lots of variety and also meet your physical activity goals. You'll naturally want to know how many pounds you can expect to drop during your six-month weight-loss program. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) helps out with its universal weight-loss guidelines.
The NHLBI states that it's realistic to expect a 10 percent loss of body weight during a six-month period. Although this might not sound like a significant amount of weight, dropping that extra baggage will reduce the magnitude of your obesity-related risk factors.
Aim for Realistic Weight Loss
Though it's understandable that you'd like to shed those pounds quickly, the NHLBI recommends that you aim for a conservative 1- to 2-pound weekly weight loss. To achieve that goal, burn 500 to 1,000 more calories than you consume each day. By sticking to your food plan (including occasional treats) and staying active every day, losing 30 pounds in six months should be well within reach.