Waiting to lose weight? You never will, unless you start today.
You’ve wanted to drop those 15 pounds (or five, or 50) for longer than you remember. But every time you start a new diet you lose a few pounds and then those old habits rear their heads again. Before you know it, you’ve gained it all back and then some. Here are five secrets to successful weight loss that will help you keep it off. (N.B., Of course, see your doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan. Make sure your body is ready for these changes. Don’t substitute this advice for that of a physician’s counsel.)
1. Do the Math
Your body is an amazingly designed, highly efficient, energy-processing machine. It’s a medical fact that if you give your body the right kinds of fuel in the right amounts, you’ll lose weight. Quit trying to starve yourself and learn to eat properly by being a math nerd.
Start by understanding one fact: if you take in fewer calories than you burn, your perfectly designed energy-processing machine of a body will do its job. Find out how many calories per day your body needs to maintain itself at your current weight and you’ll understand what it takes to start shaving off those extra pounds.
Use a free online tool like this one from the Calorie Control Council and get the data you need to use math to melt it off.
2. Step It Up
You don’t have to be a triathlete to get in better shape. Here are a few ways to start moving more. Before you know it, you’ll be healthier and feel better, and the positive feedback in the mirror will keep you going.
- Park farther away. Even 50 extra feet from your workplace or the grocery store when you run your errands turns into 100 extra feet you walked on the round trip. Over the course of a year, all those extra steps will turn into lots of calories burned off your body, just by that one simple change. Think of your goal, not grabbing that convenient close spot, and you’ll see the results. Here’s a great article from the American Heart Association for more information.
- Take the stairs. Climbing a few flights of stairs can burn off excess calories, melt fat, and does a lot for your muscle tone and heart health. Here’s one stair-climbing success story.
- Watch your step(s). Get a pedometer to keep up with how many steps you take every day. You’ll soon start seeing it as a goal and try to take a few more than you did yesterday. Every step burns calories off the old waistline. Here are more stats about taking more steps.
3. Use Food for Fuel, Not as Medicine
Sometimes we eat to comfort us when we’re feeling bad. The problem is, emotional eating doesn’t do anything to help our emotional issues; it just makes us feel worse the next day. Examining why you eat when you’re sad or stressed and admitting to yourself that it’s an issue is the first step.
Here’s a great article about how to examine why we eat at certain times, and what to do instead.
4. Understand What You’re Eating and What Your Body Does with It
Knowing how different foods are handled by your body’s energy machine will help you make better choices. Most people cannot sustain a radical diet for very long, and the result of many extreme weight-loss strategies (no-carb, all protein diets, etc.) is that people tend to rebound and gain more weight. Knowing what your body does with the fuel you give it will help you make better choices and lead to lasting success.
Here is a primer from the CDC to get you started.
5. Win Today
You don’t have to focus on the 15 or 50 pounds you need to lose. If you’re focused on the big number, you’ll be discouraged every time you step on the scale. But if you simply learn to win today, every day, you’ll hit your targets and feel successful. Take in less than you burn, one day at a time, and your body will do the rest.
A good example is the 500 calorie plan. It’s pure fact that if you can reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day, you’ll lose one pound per week. It’s very easy to cut 500 calories in one day if you plan your food intake strategically. Think about the simple things, like substituting water for soft drinks. A typical soft drink or fruit juice has 120 or more calories per serving, so if you make three or four of those choices a day, you’ll hit your 500 calorie target without much trouble.
Keeping it up, and making a conscious choice to win the Battle of Today, every day, will produce the leaner, healthier version of yourself you’ve always known was hiding under all those extra pounds.
Remember: You can’t lose weight tomorrow. Stop waiting and start weighing less, starting today.