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In our society, it seems everyone has been on a diet at some point in his or her life.  With celebrities seemingly shrinking a way, it is no wonder there is such a focus on physical appearance and being as skinny as possible.  With such a focus on weight loss, it is no wonder that fad diets such as the master cleanse, the cabbage soup diet and the HCG diet continue to gain a following years after they have been proven to be an unhealthy way of achieving weight loss goals.  Losing weight, especially with some of these fad diets that promise instant results, may be easy, but the difficulty lies in maintaining the weight loss once you are off the diet and back to the real world.   If you are one of the many that have tried fad diets, lost the weight and gained it back within months or a year, you are well aware of the many pitfalls that come with losing weight the wrong way.  With that said, there are many ways to achieve your goal weight in a safe, healthy way and finally learn how to eat in order to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

 

Introduction

So, what are they keys to successful weight loss and weight maintenance?  It is much simpler than expected, but it takes a lot of will power, determination and discipline.  By implementing the tips below, you should be well on your way to achieving the body you have always wanted and maintaining your weight, even if it means splurging once in a while on delectable dinners, drinks and desserts!

 The Basics

In order to understand weight loss and weight maintenance, you will first have to understand why most individuals gain weigh to begin with.  Each day, your body requires a certain number of calories in order to maintain your current weight.  On average, women need approximately 1,200 – 1,700 calories per day to maintain and men require 2,100 to 2,500.  These numbers vary depending on height, weight and activity level, but tend to be the norm.  Although these are general guidelines, this number differs in every individual and has a lot to do with lifestyle.  If you are active, your body will require more calories than someone who is sedentary.  If you want to lose weight, you will need to eat fewer calories than the amount you burn each day.  It is a very simple math equation.

In order to understand how weight gain happens, you have to understand that one pound is equal to approximately 3,500 calories.  This means that, if you eat 3,500 calories per week more than your body requires, you will gain at least one pound per week.  If you want to lose weight, you will have to eat less calories than you burn.  To lose weight, you should decrease your caloric intake and create a deficit.  Creating a deficit of 3,500 calories per week or 500 calories per day, will help you lose 1 pound per week.  You can cut 250 calories per day by eliminating a soda at lunch and dinner and cut an additional 250 calories by not eating that chocolate cookie after lunch.  It is not difficult to do but definitely takes some thought and pre-planning.  If you opt to, you can also burn 500 calories per day instead of cut your calories.  Go for a 5 mile run, swim for an hour or jump rope for 45 minutes and you will torch the extra 500 calories per day you need to burn.  By creating a calorie deficit of 3,500 to 7,000 calories per week either through exercise or by eating less, you can lose 1-2 pounds a week and reach your weight loss goals.  In order to maintain it, all you need to do is ensure that the calories you consume are not greater than those you burn.

Weight Loss and Weight Management Tips

So, now that you understand how and why you gain and lose weight, here are some tips to help you succeed and achieve the weight loss and maintenance goals you have been striving for.

 Drink Water

This may seem easy and mundane but it is the easiest weight loss tip to implement into your life.  It is suggested that you drink eight to ten glasses of water per day or a total of 64 ounces.  This recommendation has been suggested by physicians and dietitians for years, but it has recently gained popularity with regards to weight loss.  By drinking one to two glasses of water before each meal, you will feel full faster and help cut your portions, usually by one quarter to one third.  This can help cut calories, leading to healthy, maintainable weight loss.  To maintain your weight, continue to consume water throughout the day and before meals.

Get Moving

It is no surprise that exercise helps you lose weight.  The problem for most individuals is finding the time to fit exercise into today’s busy lifestyles.  On average, 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise, such as fast walking, jogging, swimming, hiking and jumping rope, can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories.  The actual number varies depending on intensity and physical size.  By fitting at least 30 minutes of exercise into your day, you can burn 1,400 to 4,200 calories per week.  This can lead to a weight loss of one to two pounds per week.  Fitting 30 to 45 minutes of exercise does not have to be impossible either.  You can go for a brisk walk at lunch and then another walk after work.  If you are traveling, a workout video in your hotel room can give you quite a workout as well.  If you have kids and are busy running around from school to practice, go for a jog around the football field while they are practicing and get your own workout in.  The key to fitting in exercise is making time for it.  Remember, you do not have to do all 30 to 45 minutes at once. If it is easier, you can do 15 minutes of push-ups, sit ups, lunges and squats before work, go for a 20 minute walk at lunch and finish the day with a 20 minute walk or light jog after dinner. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and any exercise is better than none.

 Fill Up on Vegetables, Fruits & Protein

Often times, people on a diet fail because they cannot fight the feeling of hunger they feel when they cut calories.  Cutting calories does not have to mean eating less though.  By making smart choices, you can actually eat more and still consume fewer calories. Eating the right foods is crucial when it comes to losing weight and maintaining weight loss.

The three most important food groups to eat are vegetables, fruits and protein.  Vegetables can be eaten on an almost unlimited basis.  Snack on vegetables throughout the day and fill up on them before reaching for the chips or cookies in your desk drawer.  You may still want a cookie, but you will most likely eat less of them after starting off with veggies.  Before lunch and dinner, start with a small salad dressed in balsamic vinegar and a pinch of healthy olive oil.  Vegetables tend to contain plenty of fiber, helping to fill you up and prevent you from over eating during the main course.

Try eating a fruit for breakfast and then add protein such as yogurt or a hard boiled egg to round out the meal.  Top it off with some fiber in oatmeal or high fiber cereal.  The fruit will give you the natural sugar and energy you need to start your day and the protein and fiber will help keep you full through lunch.  Making sure you eat a balanced, healthy breakfast will be the key to prevent those mid day work binges on the lunch room treats.

Plan Your Meals

If you are the type that will reach for the first thing you see when you are hungry, it may be helpful to plan your meals ahead for the week and prepare them in advance to keep them handy.  To get the week off to a good start, grill several chicken breasts on Sunday and pack them individually to take with you for lunch each day.  Make some grilled vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bean salad and quinoa to have as a side dish.  You can also pack your sides so, each morning, you grab your chicken, pick your side and you have a healthy lunch that takes less than a minute to put together.  If dinners are your pitfalls, make dinners over the weekend and freeze them individually.  When you get home from work, all you have to do is pop them in the microwave and heat them up.  Not having to wait 30 minutes to an hour to eat while you cook will help prevent grazing and ensure you have a healthy meal.

Watch Your Liquids

Most people do not realize the number of empty calories they consume each day drinking soda, juices and alcoholic beverages.  One can of soda has an average of 140 calories and 30 grams of sugar.  Drinking 3 cans of soda per day, one with each meal, can add up to almost 3,000 calories per week.  Simply by cutting out soda, you can lose one pound a week, without changing anything else in your diet.  Juices have similar calorie content and, often times, even more sugar.  Just because it is 100% juice does not make it healthy.  Ideally, it is always wiser to eat the fruit instead of drink its’ juice.  Not only will you get the nutrients, but you will also get the substance, helping making you feel full.

Alcohol is an even bigger culprit.  One margarita can have as many as 700 calories and almost 100 grams of sugar.  In addition to the high caloric value, alcohol can also lower your inhibitions, causing you to eat more and make poor choices when it comes to good.  If you have to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, it is better to keep it to a minimum and enjoy alcohol sparingly on weekends.  If you are going to drink, it is helpful to know what to drink in order to minimize the calorie intake as well. Light beers, a glass of wine, a glass of champagne or vodka and soda can be some of the least damaging drinks to enjoy.  Most of these options have 100 or less calories per serving and have minimal sugar content.