Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit. One pound equals 3,500 calories, which breaks down to 500 calories a day. Do a combo of exercise and cutting calories to reach 500, and you'll lose a pound a week. You can meet with a nutritionist or your doctor to find a more specific daily calorie count, but don't dip below 1,200, as it will slow down your metabolism.
Monitor your calories as accurately as you can. Look up calorie amounts and write them down in a food journal, or use a weight-loss app. Everything you put in your mouth gets written down—yes, even that handful of M&Ms you grabbed off your co-worker's desk! It may not seem like much, but at 70 calories, those little nibbles will add up. Then weigh yourself once or twice a week to keep track of your progress.
Have measuring cups, spoons, and food scales on hand to measure correct portions. Eyeballing a cup of cereal is not exactly accurate, and you'd be surprised how easy it is to overestimate when you're hungry. In the first few months, you'll need to measure everything from the milk you pour into that bowl of cereal to the dressing you drizzle on your salad. After a while, you'll become familiar with what correct portions look like.
In order to prevent that famished feeling that drives us to overeat, plan on eating three meals and two snacks a day, timing them so you eat every two to three hours.
Every time you nosh, be sure to include protein to satisfy your hunger, fiber to fill you up, and healthy carbs to sustain your energy. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be between 300 and 500 calories each, and the two snacks 150 each. Break them down to fit your needs, but you might want your midday meal to be the biggest to ensure you have enough time to burn off those calories.
Find simple ways to cut calories, whether it's swapping your daily Coke for water, using one slice of cheese on your sandwich instead of two, substituting spaghetti squash for pasta, or choosing a turkey patty instead of beef.
Dealing with hunger is the worst part about trying to lose weight, so in order to prevent those pangs from pushing you to grab the nearest cookie, plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time. Write out what you'll be eating for the entire week, and you'll be even more successful if you pack and label foods for each day. Incorporating Protein Shakes into your routine is a great way to curb hunger and prevent unhealthy snacking.
Diet is one part of the weight-loss puzzle, and the other part is exercise. In order to burn calories to reduce your overall body fat, include 60 minutes of heart-pumping exercise five times a week. A leisurely walk around the block unfortunately isn't enough. We're talking running, biking, swimming, and high-intensity classes for cardio, strength training to build fat-burning muscles, and stretching to keep those muscles supple and to prevent injury. Here's a 60-minute workout to get you started that incorporates all three.