There are no shortages of diet fads and diet tips out there. It seems that the more complicated the advice, the less likely it is to have lasting impact on weight loss. The best formulas are those that will promote changes in habits over the long term. For me personally, the most profound advice I ever read was summed up in one simple formula:
One Pound = 3,500 calories
So how can this help you with weight loss? Easy. Just think of it this way. For every 3,500 calories you consume that you do not burn off, you gain a pound. For every 3,500 calories you burn off above and beyond what you consume, you lose a pound. The key to weight loss, therefore, is a net difference of calories through a combination of decreased calorie intake and increased calorie burn-off.
Think of it this way: extra weight is a lot like debt. The calories you burn off each day are a lot like your take-home pay- they are the calories you are free to consume in any given day without going “over budget.” When you consume beyond this point, it is like putting something on your credit card. I know, I know, you have good intentions of exercising tomorrow to burn off that dessert you are eating today, just like you have great intentions of paying off that purchase you made on your credit card. But somehow we so easily end up with the extra pounds (or the credit card bill).
So what are we to do?? Well, in our debt example, we have two choices- in order to pay off our debt we can earn more, or spend less. In our extra pounds language this means eat less or exercise more. I should say eat less AND exercise more, because those who know tell us that reducing what we eat alone will not solve our extra pounds problem. Our bodies are tricky. If we eat less, our body will think it’s about to be starved, and will switch into a lower metabolism rate in order to protect itself.
So we need to eat less AND exercise more, and this is where we return to our formula. One pound = 3,500 calories. Start with a reasonable goal of losing one pound per week. That means you must change your eating/ exercise habits by 3,500 calories a week or 500 calories per day. A brisk thirty minute walk equals about 150 calories. Cutting out that second glass of OJ in the morning is 100. Eating half a bagel instead of a whole bagel is another 100. Trim down your portions and reduce/eliminate a snack and you have your 500 calories. Not too bad. Keep this up over time and you will have a healthy lifestyle change that will reap on-going benefits.
Some things to remember:
always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program choose healthy foods with lots of fiber. Limit the saturated fat and cut the trans fat. don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. You will not look like the diet ads “after” picture in a few weeks. This is a lifestyle change- with a long-term goal don’t pay too much attention to the scale. If you are building muscle, and losing fat, you may GAIN a bit of weight because muscle weighs more than fat. Pay more attention to how your clothing feels