For every success story and fad diet out there, hundreds more people find themselves failing yet another miracle diet and blaming themselves. Celebrities make a living from diet DVDs, then pile the weight back on.
The media launches a new sure-fire success plan every day, and tell you what you ought to look like. These diets complicate what could, and should, be simple – so what’s the real secret?
So You Want to Lose Weight?
The most basic thing you need to remember – in fact the only thing you need to remember – is that losing weight is one simple equation. Eat less. That is, eat less calories than you burn.
On a normal day, with some movement but no strenuous exercise, a woman needs around 2000 calories for her body to get through the work of staying alive.
If you eat more than that you will put weight on; your body will store those extra calories as fat. If you eat less than that your body will eat up those stored calories – the fat – and you’ll lose weight.
It really is that simple. There are no tricks, you don’t need to live on cabbage soup, cut out all carbs, or only eat things grown under the silver light of the full moon in May.
There are all kinds of effective ways to keep on top of your calorie intake. Most foods now have labels that tell you exactly how many calories they contain – and there are a wealth of websites, books and smart phone apps that can track what you’ve eaten.
If you want to lose weight set yourself a lower, but manageable, calorie target each day. 1600 is a sensible target that will help you to lose 1-2 lb per week.
BMI – What Does it Mean?
BMI – or body mass index – is a measure of what percentage of your body is fat – and thus how much you need to lose to improve your health. A healthy BMI is in the 18-24 range – and above 25 means you’re over weight.
It’s calculated by measuring your height and weight, and there’s a healthy range for adults that takes into account different body types.
Earn Those Treats
Rather than cutting out all the foods you love completely cut back on the foods you know aren’t great for you, and replace them with lower fat, lower calorie options. But it’s the weekend, you’re meeting a friend for coffee, and that chocolate brownie looks great. Do you have to avoid it? No way.
Just earn it. Again an easy way to track this is an app on your phone or a fitness website – but exercise will burn more calories, and can earn you that treat without busting you over your calorie target for the day.
For example, a 30 minute bike ride could burn off the same amount of calories in that slice of chocolate brownie. A gentle walk for an hour means you can eat a packet of potato chips guilt free.
Snacks Are Your Friend
Obviously eating a handful of chocolate biscuits with every cup of tea isn’t the way to go – but you knew that. Healthy snacking, though, could be the answer to helping you shed those extra pounds.
Snacking on fruit, whole grains, healthy small meals, these can all help you to keep hunger pangs at bay and control your eating, and avoid binging.
Don’t try to keep to a diet that makes you skip meals until the evening and keep your energy up with sugar filled shakes; instead switch to five small meals or snacks throughout the day, beginning with a decent breakfast, and you’ll be able to keep to your plan permanently – without the inevitable burn out and binge cycle your previous diets involved.
Don’t Diet. Live!
Don’t diet sounds like crazy advice when you’re trying to lose weight – but if dieting worked it wouldn’t be a multi billion dollar industry. Instead of dieting, change your thinking.
Plan out your meals, pick healthy options, add in a little more activity – just a half hour walk every day will make a difference – and you’ll lose weight gradually, sensibly, and realistically.