All without the word “diet.”
Roughly 69 percent of all American adults are overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaning that most Americans are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions linked to excess body fat.
If you’re concerned about your health, you can succeed at weight loss. All it takes is a common-sense approach that includes these five weight loss basics.
1. Track your progress daily.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with weight loss plans is not tracking on a daily basis. Your body weight can fluctuate by several pounds due to water retention, the amount of food in your stomach and other factors. As a result, people who weigh infrequently often don’t get an accurate idea of their progress.
A better strategy is to record your weigh-ins daily, so that you’ll recognize trends in weight loss or gain over time. You can go one step further by using a WiFi scale that will store results (including details like your muscle mass and body mass index, or BMI) and send them to your computer or smartphone for analysis.
The same goes for diet and exercise – by tracking your activity (automatically if you use a fitness tracker), you’ll get a more detailed picture of progress to help you stay motivated. App- and desktop-based platforms that chart your weight and fitness progress over time, like Walgreens’ Balance Rewards for healthy choices™, can help.
2. Make a sustainable healthy weight your goal.
If you don’t set a realistic goal, you’ll quickly get discouraged from striving for some pie-in-the-sky number. First, determine your ideal body weight using a BMI chart, your age and gender. (You can also use our Ideal Body Weight Calculator). Your doctor can help you determine the number for which you should be striving.
Concentrate on fat loss, not just pounds, particularly if strength training is part of your exercise program. By looking at things like BMI and muscle mass, you can get a better idea of what the differences in your weight mean.
And as part of a sustainable weight plan, don’t just set a final goal; set short-term weight and fitness goals as well. “Bite-size” goals help you stay focused and feel a sense of accomplishment as you begin to shed body fat. You can start with a short-term goal of losing just 5 percent of your body fat weight, for example, which studies show can make a positive impact on your health.
3. Focus on a daily healthy calorie deficit.
Your body burns fat when you take in fewer calories from food than you burn during the day, so a weight-loss strategy must focus on creating a calorie deficit.
To start, use a calorie calculator for that estimated calorie number you’ll need each day to achieve an effective weight plan. From there, smartphone apps and online tools for finding nutritional information on the foods you eat are everywhere, and many fitness devices show you how many calories you burn during your activities.
Remember: the act of tracking is more important than how precise the numbers are. Daily monitoring works by helping you keep your goals in sight and showing how your progress is influenced by other factors, like how you exercise and eat. Learning the connection between diet, exercise and weight management is key – not just for losing weight initially, but for keeping it off in the future.
4. Think small changes for big differences.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you start. Simplify by focusing on little daily improvements with each meal. For example, choosing a grilled entree instead of a fried dish reduces fat and calories. Substituting whole grains for the empty calories of enriched flour found in white breads and pasta is another small change that packs a dramatic impact.
With every meal, look for small ways to make healthier food choices, and you’ll begin to see big improvements!
5. Get moving in a way that works for you.
Exercise is a key part of weight loss, but there’s no single type of exercise that’s right for everyone. The guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity on a weekly basis, but how you get that aerobic exercise is up to you. Walk, swim, dance, ski, play a sport; if it gets your heart rate going and it’s something you enjoy, any activity can be exercise. Even small sessions of aerobic activity count.
Lasting weight loss takes commitment and time; most people can only safely lose 1 to 2 pounds of weight per week. So don’t get discouraged if your progress is slow. Keep tracking your weight and stick to your diet and exercise plan. The biggest key to your success will be consistency.
Balance Rewards for healthy choices™
Walgreens’ Balance Rewards for healthy choices™ program (formerly Steps) is just one tool to help you make healthy choices by rewarding you for tracking exercise, weight, sleep and more. Learn more and get started ›