Make a Plan for Weight Loss
Losing weight is hard work, but you’ve done a lot of hard things in your life, right? So why does it seem impossible to shed those extra pounds? Part of the reason may be that most people take a pretty loose approach to the effort. Building a house starts with a blueprint and baking a cake starts with a recipe, so why not try the same approach to weight loss? Take a look at the following questions and see where you might be going wrong.
What is your weight loss goal?
The point of planning is to have a goal to shoot for, so the first step in weight-loss planning is to decide how many pounds you want to lose. If you are trying to shed more than 25 pounds, you might want to set multiple goals, starting with the first 5 pounds.
To figure out what your ideal weight should be, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight by your height in inches; take the quotient, squared and multiply that number by 703.
If you want to shoot for a specific BMI, take that number, divide it by 703 and multiply it by your height in inches, squared. Your weight-loss goal is the difference between this number and your current weight.
How will you increase your activity level?
Losing weight is made dramatically easier if you combine decreasing your caloric intake with increasing your activity level. That doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or investing in home exercise equipment, but it does mean getting your body moving. For adults 18 to 64 years old, the CDC recommends several alternate approaches to optimizing your health, all of which include a combination of aerobic and strengthening exercises. For aerobic activity you can opt for either 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise (walking, leisurely bike riding) each week, 75 minutes of more intense aerobic activity (running or swimming) or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity in equal measure. Whichever aerobic option you select, it should be paired with resistance training at least two days a week.
How will you monitor your progress?
Keeping track of the foods you eat and the activities you undertake is critical to staying focused on your weight-loss program. Use a calendar or set up an electronic spreadsheet to record what you eat each day, along with the calorie-burning exercise you do. Weigh yourself weekly to check your progress.
Making a plan — and sticking to it — isn’t easy, and you probably will have days when it seems hopeless. But instead of beating yourself up when you eat the occasional forbidden food or skip your workout, remember the plan is still in place and you can get right back on track tomorrow. When you start to see results, don’t forget to congratulate yourself for accomplishing what once seemed impossible.