For those who have a significant amount of weight to lose, beginning a diet and exercise plan to reach weight loss goals can seem incredibly daunting. Many people don't attempt to lose weight because they are so overwhelmed by the amount of work required, and others repeatedly fail at weight loss attempts because they never craft a sound, realistic diet and exercise program. If you're over 300 pounds, your health will almost inevitably suffer without taking action to lose excess weight. But with the right plan, adequate support and strong determination, you can find lasting weight loss success.
Surround yourself with positive influences and do your best to eliminate those people or things in your life that are likely to detract from your weight loss success. Set milestone goals for yourself and treat yourself with positive, goal-friendly rewards, such as a day at the spa or a movie with a loved one. Finally, start slow. If you're not accustomed to exercise, ease your body into it as you change your diet. You may be sore at first, but giving your body time adapt will minimize this initial discomfort.
When dieting, restricting your calories too much can have the unintended consequence of slowing your metabolism. ACSM guidelines warn against eating fewer than 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,800 calories per day for men, unless you are under strict supervision from your doctor.
Get medical clearance from your doctor. Talk with your physician to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise and discuss your dietary needs. Review any current medications you're taking and any health problems you may have.
Write down your goals. It's hard to hit a moving target, and writing down your goals will increase your odds of success. Be as specific as possible and give yourself deadlines. For example, instead of writing down "tone up by the end of the year," you might say "lose 50 pounds by December 1st." Post your goals in a prominent spot where you will see them each day, and practice rewriting them from memory each morning.
Clean up your diet. The most important element of weight loss success is diet. Talk with a nutritionist or dietician to formulate a healthy eating plan based on your goals. In order to lose one pound of fat, you must create a 3,500-calorie deficit. A healthy weight loss of one to two pounds per week can be reached with a daily calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories.
Create an exercise plan. Determine how many days you intend to work out and how long each session will be. You should include both cardiovascular exercise to burn fat and resistance training to build muscle. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes of cardio and two to three days of resistance training each week. It's a good idea to enlist the help of a personal trainer or other fitness professional to set up a sound exercise program.
Tell others about your successes and goals. Get as many cheerleaders on your team as possible. Enlisting the encouragement of others will help keep you going when you're feeling weak and hold you accountable for the goals you've shared with them.
Accept mistakes and move on. You're human and slipping up on your diet or exercise routine is normal. What distinguishes those who are ultimately successful from those who repeatedly fail to reach their weight loss goals is persistence. If you fall off the wagon for a day, don't lament your mistake. Accept it, learn from it, and get back on track. Reread your goals and ask loved ones for encouragement when you need it.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Obesity and Exercise
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- Bodybuilding.com: What Are Good Diet and Exercise Programs for Obese People?
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism Is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
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