Every day that goes by it seems as if there’s a new product, diet or exercise program out there boasting miracle results at weight loss with little effort required. We all ought to know by now that nothing is that easy. It takes considerable time and effort to reverse months or perhaps years of poor eating habits and lack of activity.
It’s not easy, but it turns out that it is actually pretty simple. Here are the basic things to keep in mind as you begin your quest for permanent weight loss.
Exercise is key. Although a proper diet is obviously important to getting trim, nothing beats a regular habit of exercise to burn calories, boost metabolism and promote good cardiovascular health. It’s one of the most significant predictors of whether a person will have success in losing weight and keeping it off. A good start for those of us who aren’t already in the habit is a 30-minute walk, three days per week (working up slowly to five days per week). It’s also a good idea to eventually add some variety into the routine if possible, perhaps with some cycling, swimming or other aerobic activity. It’s important to check with your doctor, of course, before beginning a new exercise program.
In addition to this base of walking or other cardio activity, you might also eventually incorporate some strength training. You don’t have to lift heavy, since your goal isn’t to become a bench press champ. Even working out with lighter weights or doing basic calisthenics to build muscle will help. The more muscle tissue you build, the more calories your body must burn to maintain it. In one recent study, women who added strength training exercises to their diet and exercise regimen lost 44% more fat than those who only dieted. The real plus here is that with a little extra muscle building, you’ll be burning calories at a higher rate even when you’re resting. Pretty cool, eh?
Take it slow. The more quickly weight is lost, the more likely it is to be from loss of muscle and water. We want to lose the fat, and that happens more slowly. For most people an average of 1 or 2 pounds a week is about right. Chances are the weight gain didn’t happen overnight, so don’t expect it to come off overnight. Rapid weight loss is not usually sustainable, and not particularly healthy. If you reduce your food intake by only 250 calories a day (less than a single donut or muffin) from what is needed to maintain your current weight, and also start expending 250 more calories a day in exercise, that totals 3500 calories every week. Guess what – that’s the precise amount needed to lose one pound. Do that, week in and week out, and you’ve lost 15 pounds over the next three months, and a whopping 50 pounds by this time next year. Remember that “slow and steady” wins the race.
One more tip: eat slow. Take smaller bites and take your time to really enjoy and savor your food. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your body is full, so if you rush through your meal you may eat more than you want or need in order to feel satisfied.
There’s no particular magic spell to help achieve weight loss for most of us. It’s a consistent program of increasing calories burned through activity, and limiting calories taken in at mealtime. Many people find that a structured meal plan such as those available from Nutrisystem helps. If you’d like to try Nutrisystem, take advantage of our Nutrisystem Coupons for savings of $25 off your first order.