Losing weight is about simple math.
If you’d like to lose weight, you’ll be more successful if you follow a plan with specifics (i.e. numbers), rather than “listening to your body.” You need to decide how many pounds you want to lose and how soon you want to lose that weight. You then need to decide how many pounds you will lose through diet, and how many pounds you will lose through exercise.
Once you know these numbers, you can create a plan that lets you eat X number of calories each day and burns X number of calories each day through exercise. It’s pretty easy, if you learn the numbers.
What scares most people is that they don’t understand the math behind weight loss, thinking they have to kill themselves at a gym or starve themselves each day. If you can cut out half a candy bar each day and ride an exercise bike in front of the TV for 30 minutes, you can lose 25 pounsd this year and keep it off.
If it’s so simple, why do so many people struggle? As you’ll learn on various pages of this website, most people make two mistakes:
1) You eat more calories than you need or want each day because you eat too fast. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full, and you eat extra calories you really don’t need;
2) You try to lose weight by cutting calories without exercise, which results in your body fighting you to put the weight back on.
If you simply eat the calories you need each day, you’ll only have to create a 250-calorie deficit each day to lose 26 lbs. over the course of a year—and keep it from coming back. Yes, you can lose more weight and lose it more quickly, but unless you stick with your plan, the weight will come back.
Here’s how to create a weight-loss plan that will work for you:
Step #1 – Determine the number of calories you need each day to maintain your weight. You can use the USDA’s calorie chart, or meet with your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Step #2 – Learn to read food labels. Almost all commercial food labels tell you how many calories are in a serving of your foods and drinks. Using this information, you can monitor your calories each day.
Step #3 – Create a daily meal plan that provides you with 125 fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight (you can increase this number on days you don’t exercise or if you want to lose more weight sooner). Use this sheet to plan your meals and snacks in advance. It’s as simple as reading the calories on cans, boxes and bottles. For more complicated dishes or to track dining out, use an online calorie calculator (LS link).
Step #4 – Do exercise each day that burns 125 calories. You can walk up and down stairs, jog in place, ride a bike, rollerblade, skate, jump rope, hula hoop, etc. On days you don’t burn an extra 125 calories through exercise, you’ll have to cut your daily calories by 250.
If you eat 125 calories fewer than you need for weight maintenance each day and burn 125 calories through exercise, you can lose 26 pounds per year. Realistically, you should aim for a 250-calorie intake reduction and 250-calorie exercise burn because your metabolism may start to slow down in response to your weight loss, and there will be days when you don’t hit either of your goals. You may also be slightly off on your daily calorie needs if you use the USDA chart (since not everyone has the same metabolism).
The American Heart Association recommends you exercise for 60 minutes or more, three to five times per week, if you want to lose weight. Many part-time Internet writers blogging for so-called health websites mistake the American Heart Association guidelines for weight maintenance as target exercise numbers for weight loss.
Hedge your bet for meeting your exercise and weight loss goals by investing in a good, affordable heart rate monitor.
Where to buy heart rate monitors.