You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight; in fact, you shouldn’t. Losing weight the healthy way involves a commitment to your plan and patience. Following guidelines for a healthy approach to weight loss is also key in maintaining your weight once you reach your target. Combining your weight loss plan with ways to control your metabolism can help you to reach your goal more quickly, and still lose your weight the healthy way.
1. Talk to your doctor about weight loss. Be sure you need to lose weight, and that this is the best time for you to proceed with weight loss. If you are pregnant, or have a medical condition, your body may need added calories to maintain your health, so this is not the time to start losing weight.
If you have medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular problems, talk to your doctor before starting a diet and exercise plan. Many factors, including age, current weight, and overall physical health, should be discussed with your doctor in order to safely start a diet and exercise plan.
2. Set reasonable and realistic goals. Weight loss of 0.5 to 2 pounds per week is a healthy approach. Allow yourself the time you need to reach your weight loss goal, planning on a loss of up to 2 lbs. each week.
While it may be tempting to pursue fad diets with promises of fast weight loss, a slow and steady approach is the healthiest way to lose weight.
While fad diets may help you drop weight quickly, they are not sustainable long term and once you stop the fad diet, you often gain back the weight plus more.
3. Incorporate your daily calorie target in your plan. Weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you consume. Your doctor can help determine the number of calories to consume each day specific to your body, age, sex, and your lifestyle.
4. Do the math. One pound is equal to about 3,500 calories. In order to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week, your daily calorie consumption needs to decrease by about 500 to 1000 calories, or you activity level needs to increase to burn more calories.
As an example, a moderately active 35 year old female needs to consume about 2000 calories per day to maintain her current weight. A target goal of 1400 to 1600 calories per day will create a situation of weight loss for this person.
Daily calorie goals factor in age, sex, and level of physical activity. Some medical conditions can be a factor that may also need to be considered.
5. Avoid setting your daily calorie goal too low. This can actually prevent you from losing weight. When you skip meals or consume too few calories, your body starts to store calories as fat instead of burning them.
6. Come up with a plan that fits your own likes and dislikes. Many healthy weight loss plans already exist and can be tweaked to suit your own preferences and needs. Whether you tweak a formal diet plan or come up with your own, be sure it is suited to you, and is a plan you can live with for a long time, not just for a few months.
For a successful healthy lifestyle change, it is important that your new plan fit into your life without too much difficulty. Adjusting how you eat and exercise is one thing, completely changing to foods you don’t normally eat and exercises you don’t enjoy will most likely not be successful long term.
7. Consider your past experience with weight loss plans. As you develop your plan, incorporate what worked, and leave out what did not work.
8. Build in some flexibility. Add your own personal preferences, and include flexibility in both your food and physical activity choices. Plus, consider your preference to diet all alone or if you prefer support from a friend or group.
9. Create a plan that fits your budget. Some diet programs involve added costs. The added expense may be from a gym membership, joining a specific group, purchasing specific food items like supplements or meals, or attending regular appointments or group meetings
10. Increase your physical activity and make this a part of your plan. Consider expanding on activities you already enjoy, like walking, Zumba dancing, biking, or yoga. Establish a physical activity routine that you can live with, for the long run. An exercise routine that includes aerobic activity and muscle development is ideal, but just increasing your level of activity is a great place to start.
11. Set your activity goal. Work towards 150 minutes or more per week of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of more vigorous aerobic activity or exercise, spread evenly throughout the week.
12. Recognize the difference between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity includes the things you already do every day, such as walking, housework, yard work, and running around in the yard with the kids, grandkids, or the family pet. Exercise involves structured, scheduled, and repetitive forms of activity that you do regularly.
However, seeking to add additional physical activity (ex: taking the stairs rather than the elevator, walking rather than driving, etc.) can be a great way to reach your goals.
13. Calculate your current and target BMI. Your doctor can tell you what your body mass index, or BMI is. A healthy BMI range is between 18.5 and 25.
The formula to calculate BMI is a little confusing, but if you want to calculate your BMI, then follow these steps. Your BMI is your weight in kilograms (not pounds) divided by your height (in centimeters) squared.
Here is an example. For someone that is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 165 pounds, the formula reveals the BMI to be 27.3.
Convert the pounds into kilograms. Do this by multiplying the weight in pounds by 0.45. So 165 x 0.45 = 74.25. Next, convert the height to centimeters. 5 feet 6 inches is 66 inches. Multiply the 66 by 0.025 to get 1.65. Then square that number by multiplying it against itself, so 1.65 x 1.65 = 2.72. Divide the new weight number by the new height number; 74.25 ÷ 2.72 = 27.3. This person’s BMI is 27.3.
14. Commit to your plan. Successful weight loss requires a commitment to yourself to stick with your plan for the long term.
15. Create a written contract. Some people find it helpful to put your plan in writing. Include why you want to lose the weight, the plan itself, how much weight you want to lose, and your target date to reach your desired weight. Then sign it as if you are signing a contract.