Your Guide to Weight Loss

If your doctor has suggested that you lose weight, know that she has your best interest at heart.  Reducing your weight by just 10-20 pounds can reduce high blood pressure, normalize blood sugar levels, lower high cholesterol, alleviate depression and ease joint pain. Self esteem also increases when you take positive steps towards a desired goal. 

Covering the Basics
Most people don't understand the difference between losing scale weight and losing body fat and replacing it with lean muscle tissue. The focus should be on losing inches (pure fat) rather than weight, which includes bone, soft tissue, organs, muscles and fat. A tape measure is the best way to track fat loss.  Weigh and measure yourself every two weeks and keep a log of your progress.

The term overweight and obese, though similar, mean different things.  Everyone that is obese is overweight, but not everyone that is overweight is obese. The most popular method for calculating obesity in the general population is the Body Mass Index, which measures the ratio of your height to your weight.  There are many easy to use online calculators such as the one on the Naional Institutes of Health website at

Exercise is key to keeping your skin toned and your muscles firm as you reduce in size. Exercise also assists in weight loss as it burns calories. Theoretically, you lose one pound for every 3,500 calories burned.  So, if you burned 500 calories with increased activity, and reducing your food intake by 500 calories per day, you could expect a safe and sane loss of 2 pounds per week.  Cardio exercise (walking, jogging, jumping rope, elliptical cross trainer or classes), as well as resistance training with body weight, weights or machines is highly recommended.

Healthy Meal Plans Mean Losing Weight Without Dieting

A diet is something you follow for a specific period of time then give up. Most overweight people have been on several diets throughout their lifetime, with varying success. There are no magic pills or quick fixes when it comes to losing weight. However a healthy eating plan is balanced and incorporates at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, lean protein, high quality fats, and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and low-fat dairy.

Provide nutritional variety in your diet and avoid eating the same things day after day. Watch the portion size too. Most people are shocked to discover what an actual serving size looks like and how small ½ cup of cooked grains or 3 ounces of meat really is.  Make sure you are eating the proper number of servings from each food group in the proper amounts by reviewing "Keep an Eye on Portion Size" on the National Heart Lung & Blood Institutes website at

A trick for eating out in restaurants is to ask for two plates with the entre ordered and split it with your dinner companion, or order a doggy bag and box it up for later as soon as the meal arrives. American restaurants serve huge portins of meat and side dishes; most servings are plenty for two people.

A daily food log is an indispensible tool for managing your food intake and losing weight. There's nothing like seeing the calories wasted on soda, sweets, beer, or an after-work caramel frappuccino with extra whip. Online tools are easiest, as they have databases containing thousands of food items and items from fast food restaurants built in.

Food logs are helpful because its easy to forget the small things you've eaten over the course of the day, which quickly add up in extra calories. Online food logs track calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, protein and sodium. Some also have the capacity for entering custom foods as well as your favorite recipes.  Popular favorites are FitDay.Com, SparkPeople.Com, and ACalorieCounter.Com.

Expert Insight or Warnings:

Avoid very low calorie diets of less than 1200 calories per day. Be sure to eat 3 meals per day and two to three snacks, evenly spaced throughout the day. Avoid alcohol's empty calories which lack nutrition and pile on tummy bloat.



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