Overview and Facts
Losing weight can be a daunting and sometimes an incredibly difficult task. Although so many struggle with losing weight, the actual process of losing weight is simple: burn more calories than you take in. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple for many Americans, which is why so many struggle with weight. In any given year, more than half of Americans will go on a diet at some point to try and lose weight. Often times, people want to see instant results so they try fad diets or pills that claim a quick weight loss. But the real answer to losing weight is to do so in a healthy way, which is slowly over time.
Generally speaking, people gain weight as they get older. For some, it’s just a few pounds, but those who gain more than 20 pounds increase their risk of health problems such as heart disease and cancer. To lose one pound of fat, one must burn 3,500 calories above and beyond what is burned during normal activities. This can’t be done in a single day. Rather, it must be done by cutting calories on a daily basis and over time, the fat will burn off.
Steps to losing weight
Step 1: Set goals
If you feel ready to try and lose weight, the first thing to do is set goals. How much do you want to lose? When would you like to achieve that goal weight? Be sure the goal is realistic and more importantly, healthy. Resolving to lose an amount of weight that is more than 5-10% of your current body weight is probably not healthy. Keep in mind that losing weight slowly is the way to successfully lose weight, and keep it off once it is gone.
Step 2: Choose the method that is right for you
Depending on your weight loss goals, certain methods may work better for you than others. Generally speaking, a weight loss plan of simply following a balanced diet and exercise will yield results, but some choose to go further than that. For example, some who is just slightly overweight probably doesn’t need to join a weight loss program or seek medical advice. However, some who is obese and whose health may be in jeopardy should seek a structured program and possibly a doctor’s care. Overall, a weight loss plan should always include following a balanced diet and getting exercise. Some choose to follow a certain diet, however fad diets that are should be avoided. They may show yield quick weight loss results, but more often than not, the weight won’t stay off.
Step 3: Cut caloric intake
Eating in moderation is important for a weight loss diet. Variety and portion control are also key. Experts recommend following consuming about 1,400 calories for a weight-loss diet. Although it is possible to do a 1,200-calorie diet, that can only be done for a short period of time. Tips for cutting fat and calories from a diet include:
- Cut alcohol intake
- If you eat meat, make sure it is lean
- Cut sugar intake
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Make sure grain products are whole-grain
- Choose reduced fat dairy products
- Bake, broil or steam food
Step 4: Create an exercise plan
Technically, a person can just cut calories to lose weight. But in order to maintain that weight loss, exercise is a must, and weight loss programs work best when diet and exercise are used in tandem. For many Americans, finding the time to work out is the biggest challenge. And while experts recommend about an hour of exercise, five days a week for a weight loss program, it doesn’t have to be done at once. You can fit exercises into your day in other ways. For example, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, bike to work instead of drive or take a walk on your lunch break instead of going out to lunch.
Step 5: Track your progress
Keeping a weight loss diary can not only help keep you on track to reach your goals, but can also give you a chance to assess your progress and identify your strong and weak spots. Write down everything you eat, what time you eat, your exercise regimen and any other facts relating to your weight loss.
Health benefits to weight loss
Beyond looking and feeling good, there are many health benefits to losing weight, especially if you are overweight or obese. They include:
- Decreases risk of heart attack and stroke
- Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
- More energy
- Reduced aches and pains
- Better mobility
- Reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Better sleeping habits