Remember that simple and easy are not the same thing! Every aspect of a change in your life style requires attention. You cannot be successful without failures because they teach you what does not work for you. This is a process that is worth it but one you will most likely attempt several times before you are really ready to comply to all that is needed for true change. Be patient and remember it really is all about the balance between calories in versus calories out and your journey will be highly individual.
#1 Establish Calorie Amount
In order to lose a pound a week you need to create the 3,500 calorie deficit in your diet for that week, approximately 500 calories per day. Establish how many calories your body needs for your basic metabolic functions. There are apps available such as MyFitnessPal and LoseIt that can help you do this. This is very important. How else do you know how much you can eat?
#2 Log your Food
You don't know what you have to do if you don't know what you did. If you do not have at least some weight loss by the end of one week you can go back and check what might have hindered your weight loss. A food log can also serve as a meal plan later that you already know works for you. Another benefit of a food log is to keep you accountable to yourself. It is not easy to be honest when you don't want to write down that cookie and might stop you from eating it in the first place.
Although 90% of your weight loss journey is related to behaviors around your food intake, we cannot ignore the very important role exercise has in the process. From helping you burn extra calories to helping your built muscles, which in turn increase your metabolism, helping you burn more calories at rest. The lower your fitness level is when you begin, the less likely it is that you can burn a lot of calories at once. Improve your fitness level step by step and you will be able to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. In the mean time help your body become more mobile and introduce exercise as an activity instead of eating for example.
#4 Behavior Modification
Food may be a comfort to you for stress relieve or boredom. In many cases it is big part of your leisure time during which you may not realize how much is consumed in the course of a social gathering or sports event. It is important that you get to know and understand that about yourself and your lifestyle in order to plan ahead and avoid some of those triggers, find different pathways to handle your stress and change behaviors that lead to over eating during social events.
#5 Learn about the Nutritional Content of your Food Intake
Nutritionally dense foods often have higher amounts of calories but are also loaded with all the nutrition the body needs. When we eat foods that are high in calories and low in value to the body hunger will return sooner because the body still does not have the nutrition it needs to function. In reverse if the food eaten contains much nutrition we may not have to eat for a few hours and are still satisfied. Pay attention to the quality of your food. Learn how to read labels and which foods may be more responsible for the lack of weight loss. Most people's diet is not "bad" in all aspects. Often you can manage our diet well by replacing or removing key foods.
I always make the point that if weight loss was so easy we would not have an epidemic on our hands. I also would not have a job if everyone could just do it without help.
Here are a few things in addition to keep in mind:
Much of weight loss really is self evaluation and education. All of it is behavior modification that requires close attention to all aspects of weight loss. It really does come down to the balance between calories taken in and calories burned. If you are gaining weight you are taking in more than what your body needs. We can even calculate how much you ate too much. There are many reasons why the body may need more or less at times but it is your balance act to find out exactly how much you can eat and still lose weight.
Remember that the calculation I mentioned works both ways: when you gained one pound you ate 3,500 calories more in one week than what your body needed. That means 500 calories per day more or in one social gathering.
When you think about using exercise alone for weight loss you have to still create that deficit. This will work if you are fit enough to burn 500 calories a day and you don't eat more than the calories you need.
The average person burns 120 calories in 20 minutes on the treadmill. That does not even equal the calories in a cookie.
How long can you walk or run at a time?
How long can you exercise right now at a high intensity?
Weight loss looks different when we are younger versus when we are gracefully aging or when we are fighting chronic disease or when we are healthy. Even our gender makes a difference but the math is still the same.