How to lose weight

Losing weight is one of the topics that has the most information and misinformation on the internet, and even in books. The weight loss programs that prove popular are those that appear to have great results early on, although the results may not be desirable at all. For example, some programs will dehydrate the body in the first few days, leading to rather dramatic weight loss, but little or no loss of actual body fat. Such losses of weight are useless and perhaps dangerous. As it turns out, there is no magic pill and there is no way to lose 30 pounds of body fat in 30 days. However, with realistic goal setting and determination, one can indeed lose weight.

As always, before you start any diet or exercise program, consult with your personal physician. He or she knows your medical history and can determine if any part of a diet or exercise program may pose a risk to your personal health.
Set very realistic goals. One pound of fat contains about 3500 calories, so losing one pound per day (a common claim on many street-side advertisements) is extremely unrealistic and is probably caused by dehydration. However, losing 1/7th of a pound of body fat per day (one pound per week) may not be completely unrealistic. An example of a reasonable goal might be "Lose 12 pounds in 12 weeks."
Commit to a concrete time frame to do this in. For example, start this Monday and commit to 12 weeks. I think 12 weeks is a very reasonable amount of time, since it is long enough for results, and short enough that one can commit to it now. Write your goal and your time frame on paper and post it somewhere that you'll see it. Tell your friends and family about it. Get people to hold you accountable.
Devise a specific program of physical exercise. Even walking briskly every day for at least 30 minutes can be enough. Many people will take up jogging, bicycle riding, or swimming. If you live within 2 miles of work (and traffic is walkable), you could simply walk to and from work.

Do not count out weight training. Some people view aerobic exercise as calorie burning, and weight training as muscle building, but not calorie burning. That is not the case. Weight training in itself burns many calories and having strong muscles allows you to burn more calories in any activity.
Commit to a reasonable diet. There are more fad diets available than can be counted, and their long term effects tend to be dubious or even detrimental. Instead eat a varied, balanced diet and minimize refined and processed foods. For example, eat whole wheat bread instead of white bread. Eat roasted chicken instead of hot dogs. Avoid sugary drinks. Avoid any food made with trans fats/hydrogenated oils. (You can see that on the ingredients list.) Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepare as much food as you can from scratch.
Continue this every day for the entire period that you committed to. If you backslide at any point, do not give up, but rather recommit to your goal.
Don't stop at the end of your given time frame. If you made reasonable diet and exercise decisions, you will find that they became part of your overall lifestyle and are easy to maintain. Therefore, there is no reason to stop, but rather all the more reason to continue. If one maintains a healthy diet and exercise regimen, then one will be able to maintain a healthy weight and avoid a myriad of health issues, both now and later in life.

  • You may want to ramp up your exercise routine. For example, if you decide to jog for 30 minutes per day, you might decide to walk 24 minutes then jog 6 minutes the first day, walk 22 minutes then job 8 minutes the next day, and so on. This way you are less likely to give up.
  • It's unwise just to eat a healthful diet or just to exercise. Instead, do both together and you'll get the best results. If you start now and commit to it, you will find that both will become part of your lifestyle and will be easy to maintain.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Poor sleep is one of many reasons that we tend to be overweight and unhealthy. Minimize caffeine at all points and avoid it completely within 6 hours of bed time. Quit smoking. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Eat breakfast. Those who eat breakfast, although they consume more calories on average, lose more weight.
  • Stick to it and stay motivated. The methods outlined will not work if not implemented!

  • Don't obsess about weighing yourself every day. You cannot lose or gain 3 pounds of fat during a day although your weight readings could easily vary by that amount. Instead, that's probably just a fluctuation in water in your body. 1 liter of water weighs over 2 pounds, and I personally have no trouble drinking a liter in one sitting, if I'm thirsty. If you weigh yourself every day, write down the results and consider only the long-term trends.
  • Any exercise or diet program needs to be approved by your physician to ensure that you are not putting your health in harm's way.

Copyright 2009 by Michael Nehring