Perhaps you started off the year with the best intentions, like most people. You were going to hit the gym and lose twenty pounds by March. Then the wind, snow, and winter doldrums came, and have not gone away. Your best intentions for weight loss fizzled out as you became tired of it all, again (both the snow and the lost commitment).
It happens! But, this can be the beginning of the end of your weight loss hassles as long as you follow some historically successful suggestions. Consider the following:
- Know your “magic” number. You need to eat fewer calories than your body needs in order to burn body fat, which is the objective in weight loss. You do not want to lose water or muscle mass, you want to lose body fat. If you take your current weight, and multiply by 10, this will be a good gauge of the amount of calories you should consume to cause weight loss. So, if you weigh 135 and you wish to lose weight, multiply 135 by 10, and your good starting point is 1350 calories. If you have a complicated workout schedule or need very specific guidance due to diseases such as diabetes, PCOS, and chronic fatigue syndrome, consider consulting with a dietitian to find the best calorie prescription for your circumstances.
- Track your food. It truly works! If you know your magic number, but have no idea how much you are eating, you will stay fat. My favorite tracking tool is MyFitnessPal because it is a very user-friendly app and makes tracking food a snap. You can literally snap a picture of a bar code on a food item and the nutrition information will go to the data base. Because everyone is on the go, using this app for food tracking eliminates the need to park yourself at the computer. If you track your food as you move through your day, it will also be much more accurate!
- Eat only foods you can really track. If this means you avoid a restaurant because you do not have the nutrition information, so be it. You want to be accurate with your food tracking, so make it a policy to eat only what you can intelligently measure in terms of calories. MyFitnessPal has a large nutritional data base, but you won’t be able to accurately document your chicken parmesan from your favorite local Italian restaurant. You will be guessing on the calories, and this is to be avoided.
- Get a good digital scale. Ok, you hate weighing your food, I know. But the reality check here is that you don’t need to do it often. For instance, I started tracking my food today, and weighed my portion of peanuts. The label stated that 1 oz. of peanuts was 160 calories. I knew I was not going to eat that many of my calories as peanuts, so I weighed out 1/4 oz. I counted the peanuts as roughly 15, so now I know what a reasonable portion is for me. Another point, leave the scale on the counter to remind you to use it!
- Moving around helps. Yes, exercise is great, but if you cannot exercise, that is not an excuse for not losing weight. Exercise aids weight loss both in the short and long-term, but you can so undermine your gym time by not paying attention to what you put into your mouth.
No one ever said it was easy to lose weight. Like anything important, it takes some effort and concentration. With that stated, I believe anyone can lose weight, you simply need the right tools and commitment.