If you need to lose weight, you're not alone. Weight loss is a billion dollar industry, with celebrities, physicians, and laymen all cashing in on our weight loss goals. It seems that every day a new fad is introduced, promising to help people to lose fat fast, to drop six dress sizes in six weeks, or to guarantee washboard abs in only minutes a day. The truth is, there are only ten rules of fat loss. (Another great source for tips is Fat Loss 4 Idiots.)
- Make a Realistic Weight Loss Plan
Many people fail at fat loss because they set unrealistic goals. This can lead to frustration, which almost inevitably leads to failure. Instead of saying, "I want to lose 30 pounds," break your goals down into Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals - like "I will take the stairs instead of the elevator at work" and "I will walk for 20 minutes every day."
In order to find the healthiest weight for yourself, use a BMI calculator or a BMI chart to determine what your weight should be. BMI stands for Body Mass Index, and you can find BMI calculators online. Better yet, visit your health care professional and ask him or her for their expert opinion on what your healthiest weight and body fat percentage should be. It's usually only healthy to lose anywhere from one half pound to two pounds per week on average until you reach your goal; there is no such thing as fast weight loss.
- Exercise Portion Control
Although it seems simple enough, eating the right amount of food is key to fat loss. Check the portion size of all of the foods you consume; you may be surprised to learn the true amounts of what you should be eating. It's a good idea to use a food scale to make sure your portion sizes are the same as the recommended serving size.
- Make Healthy Eating Choices
Not only do you need to eat the right amount of food, but you also need to eat the right foods. For example, proteins leave you feeling full longer, while simple sugars both contribute empty calories, but can actually cause you to become hungrier. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats are all great healthy eating options. Learn which foods are healthiest and stock your cabinets with these.
- Don't Drink Empty Calories
It's easy to forget that many drinks are filled with empty, sugary calories, but drinks that are high in calories wreak havoc on the dieter. Try to stick with drinks that are low in calories and fat, like water. Whole milk and even most juices can be very high in calories without much benefit gained - and soda and many coffee drinks are even worse. Drinking water is best, and if you stay hydrated, you won't feel as hungry. We often mistake thirst for hunger.
- Learn How to Read Nutrition Labels
Before purchasing foods, read the labels carefully. You may find that items that are labeled as "fat free" are very high in calories, or that items listed as "low calorie" are high in fat. Make sure you know exactly what it is that you are buying.
- Exercise More
It's easier said than done, but even twenty minutes a day of exercise will help you to lose fat. Cardio exercise, exercises that increase your heart rate like running or biking, are a great place to start. It's important to strength train, because building muscle and lean body mass helps you to burn calories more efficiently. The benefits of more exercise are almost endless; in addition to losing fat, it helps you sleep better, feel less stressed, and feel less hungry.
- Get Enough Sleep
Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Those who sleep fewer hours have shown to have much more difficulty in losing weight.
- Find Fitness Support
Don't attempt to lose weight in a vacuum: whether you attend a formal weight loss group or seek the support of friends or family members, make sure you have a team of people who you can turn to with your fat loss woes. Most importantly, make sure these people will support you - don't let anybody convince you to order the cheesecake or skip your daily 20 minute walk.
- Be Kind To Yourself
We all make mistakes, and when trying to lose weight, the mistakes may be plentiful. Do not give up because you stumbled once, twice, or even ten times. Remind yourself of your ultimate goal, and then continue with your weight loss plan.
- Don't Give Up
The most important rule of all is that you can only succeed if you keep trying. Weight loss and losing fat are long-term goals - every day brings more opportunities to make healthy choices. Read weight loss success stories to stay motivated. You can do it!