New weight-loss plans pop up incessantly with perplexing instructions. Eat only food of a certain color. Buy an unwieldy device to change the position of a sit-up. Drink oil, or honey or cayenne pepper. But fad diets that are extreme and exercise plans that are difficult to follow can end up discouraging a weight-loss minded individual from achieving her goals. What you need is a simple, healthy diet plan and approachable exercises to which you can adhere. Simple plans make it easier to stick to a healthy routine for life.
The Simple Truth
A successful diet is one you can stick to, and it's a lot easier to stick to a diet that creates slow, constant change than chase one that promises rapid-fire results. Aim to lose between 1 and 2 pounds a week. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. Approximately 3,500 calories make up 1 pound. If you can reduce the number of calories you are consuming at your current, static weight by 500 calories a day, you should be able to lose about 1 pound a week. Keep a list of the foods you typically eat for one week. Count up those calories. Upon starting your diet, make sure you are eating at least 500 calories less a day than your usual diet. Focus on the progress, not an end result.
Calories are not your only concern; the quality of the calories is just as important. Sugars that are not naturally occurring are empty calories that can slow your weight loss and cause bigger health problems down the line. Just taking out that caramel macchiato and replacing it with black coffee can reduce your intake by hundreds of calories. Eliminate added sugar completely; you don't need it. Pretty much every item on a value menu has added sugar. Fruit has naturally occurring sugar and is a healthy source of carbohydrates for a much healthier snack. Vegetables should be a part of every meal. You should have three to four servings of protein every day, which can come from meat or plant sources. Fats are important too, and naturally occurring in lean poultry, fish, oil and nuts. Sticking to healthier foods will lower you caloric intake.
Eating better can start your weight loss in the right direction; adding on exercise will speed up your results. One of the most effective ways to burn calories and lose weight is aerobic exercise. Just doing as little as 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity can have a huge impact. Ramp up the results even more by trying interval training. Interval training is simple: Switch between periods of difficult aerobic activity and moderate aerobic activity. If you're just starting out, warm up by walking for five minutes and then jog lightly for one full minute. After that, walk again to recover for one minute before jogging again. Keep rotating minutes of exuberant exercise with lighter exercise for a 30-minute period.
Building up your muscles will give you a healthy, toned look, and will turn your body into a calorie-burning furnace. You don't have to spend hours at the gym, either. Strength-training sessions can last anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes for an effective workout. Start out just doing two sessions a week. For the first session focus on your upper body, and the second session your lower body. Purchase a pair of dumbbells and perform between four and six different exercises a session. Do each exercise 12 times, resting for one minute between three sets. Do one exercise per muscle group. For instance, on your upper-body days do one exercise each that works your biceps, triceps, shoulders and chest. On lower-body days, do one each for buttocks, thighs, calves and abdominals. Do aerobic training on the other three to four days you choose to exercise every week.
Meredith Berg received her B.F.A. in directing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Now living in Los Angeles, she works as a film and television writer, comic-book editor and director of plays and films. In addition, she loves tackling paleo recipes, workout routines and DIY projects.