If you want to reach a healthy weight this year and look better in the mirror, you aren’t alone. Half of all Americans are working toward weight loss goals and took steps to shed excess weight over the past year.
There are many reasons why people fail to meet their weight loss challenges. Some have a hard time giving up snacks and ignoring cravings. Others don’t know how to work out and build healthy exercise habits. You can take steps to reach optimal health through weight loss. Follow these four steps to burn fat and build muscle.
1. Start counting calories.
The first step to identify your weight loss needs is to count calories. This will give you an idea of how much you eat in a day and what you need to cut back on. By taking in fewer calories, your body won’t have extra left to turn into fat. This results in lower body weight over time.
Talk to your doctor or a registered dietician about the number of calories you need each day. This will help you learn how to lose weight at your current size. A dietician can also help you choose smarter foods, like whole grains and lean meat. They can guide you to make smarter choices so you feel full while eating fewer calories. You don’t want to undereat, because this can lead to nutritional deficits and toxic eating behaviors. Changing your diet means finding meals you love and building a healthy relationship with food.
Know that counting calories doesn’t mean you have to cut out foods. You can still enjoy your favorite desserts if you crave sugar. However, you need to learn to enjoy these treats in moderation and within your required calorie counts.
2. Buy a food scale.
One of the main reasons why people fail at weight loss is because they aren’t sure about portion control. This can even lead to weight gain as people overeat seemingly healthy foods. It’s hard to guess what the correct portion of pasta is just by spooning it out.
A food scale can help you measure out your meals down to a gram, which makes it easier to track your calorie intake. Over time, you can get an idea of what a healthy portion size actually looks like. You might be surprised by how much yogurt you can actually eat while staying on your weight-loss program.
3. Increase your physical activity.
Once you get your diet in check, it’s time to move onto an exercise plan. Working out is a big part of weight loss, especially if you sit behind a desk all day. Too often, office workers sit for hours on end and are too tired to exercise at the end of the day. However, working out can actually increase your energy levels. Even if you don’t have time to work out, you can do desk exercises that keep you moving in between meetings and client presentations.
Start by finding activities that you enjoy doing, like walking in the park with friends or taking a dance class at your local fitness center. If you can get moving, then you can burn calories.
Along with cardio activity, look for ways to grow your muscle mass. Strength training can help you increase your metabolism while making it easier to move.
If you are nervous about entering a large gym, look for niche workout opportunities. For example, you can meet with a personal trainer one-on-one to learn basic workouts to help you build muscle.
4. Drink Water
Alcohol beverages, soda, or fruit juice all contribute to weight gain. Not only are these drinks full of sugar, but they lack vitamins or any whole food nutrients. While many juices claim to be healthy, they can actually limit your weight loss.
Focus on drinking water throughout the day instead. If you can’t kick your caffeine intake from soda, try to cut back or at least alternate a glass of water for each drink you pour. The same can be said for alcoholic beverages. If you have a glass of water in between each drink, you can significantly reduce your caloric intake while still spending time with friends.
Everyone faces their own weight loss challenges. However, you can take steps to live healthier today. Find your weaknesses, whether you love desserts or just hate veggies, then take steps to work around them. You can find a weight loss plan that works for you.