With summer just a short time away, there are lots of people who are looking for ways to shed the weight they want to lose before getting in a swimsuit. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also interested in this topic, so let the research begin! There are the 2 very obvious answers when it comes to losing weight: diet and exercise.
In 2008 the US Department of Health and Human Services released its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The first chapter of this document states: “Being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health.” Obviously being healthy is something we should all aspire for and luckily, being able to shed the weight is usually a byproduct of being more physically active.
Here are the key guidelines for adults (paraphrased) from Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:
1.) All adults should avoid inactivity.
2.) Adults should do at least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
3.) For more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their activity to 300 minutes/week.
4.) Muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups should be done on 2 or more days/week.
In addition to being more physically active, another component that will help you shed the weight you need to, is to eat a healthier diet. I recently started writing down what I eat every day. Not necessarily to count calories (though I usually tally it up at the end of the day), but I just wanted to be more aware of what I eat a lot of (carbs/fruit) and what I need to eat more of (protein/veggies), so I could make adjustments where needed.
I think most of us grew up learning about healthy eating from the food pyramid. In 2011 the USDA changed from the pyramid to a “healthy plate” to help teach children and families about portions and eating balanced meals. The plate is divided into 4 sections: veggies, grains, fruits, proteins. Veggies and grains have larger sections, and then there’s a little side of dairy. I believe if we all strive to balance our meals in this manner, we would have no trouble being able to shed the weight we’re desperate to lose.
It seems to me everyone has their own opinion as to the perfect balance of these two things to lose the most weight. Some people say “it’s 80% diet and 20% exercise” – other people say “when I work out consistently I don’t have to watch what I eat and I still shed the weight” – just remember whatever “magical” formula works for one person, may not for you. Everyone’s body is different and responds in different ways, so don’t get frustrated if working out or diet alone does not make the pounds melt off. I, for one, know I need to do both (with a heavy emphasis on diet) if I want to lose any significant amount of weight, while my husband can think about working out and lose 5 lbs (frustrating, huh?)
Try and remember that it’s not a competition (unless you’re actually IN a weight loss competition!) Work hard, stay consistent and think positive. Be more active, eat healthier and if you make good choices you’ll be rewarded in the long run!