Weight loss is actually a balance of how many calories go into the body versus how many calories are used by the body. Weight loss can seem overwhelming, but with a proper plan this can be easier than one may think. Half of the battle is having a plan and staying consistent with it, as weight loss does not occur overnight. Basically, weight loss is achieved by consuming less calories into the body versus the calories expended or burned by the body. For example, if you consume 2000 calories in a day, but you burn 2000 calories that day, then you are at null and void and the scale will read the same. If you consume 1300 calories in a day, but burn 1500 calories in that day then you will begin to start to see the scale tip in the direction you want it to.
Fitness and weight loss concept, dumbbells, white scale, towel, fruit and mobile phone on a wooden table, top view[/caption]It is important to have a weight loss or fitness goal in mind when you are looking to lose weight, like how many pounds do you want to lose and in what amount of time. This can be very helpful, as you can actually determine the net calorie count for each day in order to achieve your goal. Net calories means it is the amount of calories consumed minus the amount burned. There are helpful weight loss apps that you can even download to your phone that allow you to enter your data and track it each day. A person enters in how much weight they would like to lose and by what date, then they enter in the calorie content of the food consumed each day. One will also add daily exercise and how many calories are burned each day.
Other key factors in weight loss that will be discussed include: what type of food you eat, attaining proper nutrition, which foods to avoid, proper exercise prescription including high intensity interval training and strength training, adequate hydration, and staying motivated with accountability.
Although the “math” listed above in terms of calorie counting may seem cut and dry, we also need to discuss the type of food one is eating. Proper daily nutrition is important in keeping the body healthy and fit, as well as a proper balanced diet of all the nutrients one needs. The goal should be a well-balanced diet that consists of protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and “good carbs.” Protein helps us to feel full and not overeat, as well as provides the body the fuel needed for muscle recovery. Vegetables are often considered to be “eat as much as you would like” while trying to lose weight, as they are a great source of nutrients and very low in calorie content. The whole grain and “good carbs” are important, as this is easier for the body to digest. Healthy fats also support proper body functioning. If you are unsure of what is proper nutrition, it is often helpful to attain the advice and guidance of a nutritionist or dietician.
Some foods to avoid consist of simple carbohydrates like white bread and white pasta as these can add unnecessary pounds. Also, more and more research is being released in regards to the role of sugar in terms of weight management. Often, the less sugar the better. Generally, people begin to see the weight come off more easily when they avoid sugar in their diet. Trans-fat and foods high in saturated fat should be avoided as well.
Exercise is also very important in terms of weight loss. Proper nutrition is great, but if you aren’t getting enough exercise and burning enough calories then it may be a slow and tedious journey to your weight loss goals. The higher the demand of the particular type of exercise you are performing, the more calories you will burn. Some ways in which you can make the demand higher is by increasing the intensity or speed, increasing the difficulty level or load, or increasing the amount of time you are performing it for.
Research shows that a form of high-intensity interval training performed in short bursts actually improves your cardiovascular health and burns more calories in a shorter amount of time when compared to moderate intensity with longer periods of time. Therefore, if you work harder for shorter time, you will get more “bang for your buck.” For example, “Tabatas” are one example of a high-intensity interval training routine that works well for people. This consists of going at full high-intensity for 20 seconds “all out,” followed by a ten second rest and performing this eight rounds through. The key here is the high intensity level of the whatever the exercise is that you are performing. If this seems overwhelming or difficult for you, then just start daily walking. Aim for at least 10,000 steps in each day to obtain a proper activity level.
Adequate strength training can also aide in weight loss. With proper strength training, you are actually replacing the fat with muscle. You may not notice the scale tip at first, because muscle weighs more than fat. What you may notice is that you are becoming more lean and your clothes are fitting you better. You may begin to see less fat on your body, and more muscle definition. You may feel stronger and healthier or even notice more energy and less fatigue. Also, this will also affect and improve your metabolism and how your body burns fat and it will aide in the overall weight loss. It is often important to get assistance in proper strength training routines by a physical therapist, personal trainer, or healthcare professional.
A simple yet effective key aspect of weight loss is hydration. It is important to drink enough water during the day, and this will actually help you lose weight. The general population should drink half of their body weight in ounces per day to stay properly hydrated. For example, if someone weighs 200 pounds then that person should drink 100 ounces of water per day. This will help you feel fuller but also allow the body to flush out toxins and the body to work more efficiently. Most of us need to drink more water each day!
Staying motivated is key in terms of weight loss. What motivates you? Why do you want to lose weight? How do you feel or wish to feel? The people who are most successful in reaching their weight loss goals have the knowledge of how to lose weight, as well as a delineated plan and ways in which they hold themselves accountable or are held accountable by others. In terms of a consistent and adequate “plan,” that could mean you write a weekly nutrition plan for yourself. For example, each meal is prepared beforehand with proper nutrition in mind. Weekends can be a great way to “meal prep” if you have a busy weekly schedule, where you spend concerted effort to buy and make as many of your food choices as possible prior to the week. This could also mean that you consciously avoid foods that you know are not nutritious and healthy and do not have these accessible in your home or at work.
The accountability piece means you are held responsible for reaching your weight loss goals, either by yourself or others. One may choose to join a group of people who are all trying to lose weight together, with weekly meetings. It may mean you perform weekly check-ins with yourself or your partner, by using an objective measurement tool like a scale or body measurements. Social media can also be an effective way to stay accountable with posting pictures of your weight loss journey weekly or simply a forum for verbal consistent motivation. Maybe for you it is seeking out motivational messages for yourself that you can read daily, online or in a book. Whatever it may be that you choose that helps to hold you accountable, be sure that it is consistent and specific in terms of achieving your weight-loss goals.
Too often, people will choose to go on a fad diet or use an extreme measure of losing weight. There are many products out there that proclaim they will help you “lose weight fast.” With the “quick fix” diets and products a person may reach their weight-loss goals initially, but the person will often see that the weight ends up coming back on because they go back to their old unhealthy lifestyle and old patterns. They have not “learned” what works for their own body and changed the unhealthy patterns that previously led to being overweight in the first place.
The most successful ways to lose weight consist of changing your unhealthy lifestyle for good, and committing to this in the future. It means knowing the basics of proper health, wellness and nutrition and finding a particular plan that works well for you and your lifestyle. Attain the help you need from professionals, and remember you are not in it alone and consistency is key.
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