After the holidays and before swimsuit season, many of us reluctantly start on a new diet. But diets aren’t a lasting solution to weight loss, and weight loss doesn’t have to be about starving and cutting out foods. Sensible steps you can take all the year round can keep you on track without yo-yo dieting.
Make those calories count
Most active women will lose weight eating 1,500 or fewer calories per day. For an average man, the daily calorie count needs to be below 2,000. Too many refined foods—often high in “empty” calories—can use up your calorie count without giving your body the nutrients it needs for fuel. To make the most of your meals, keep these “best practices” in mind:
Estimate your appropriate weight range with a Body Mass Index chart and calculate your ideal number of daily calories based on height and age at www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.
Stop thinking about the word “diet” as an unsatisfying set of restrictions and instead think about long-term changes that lead to slow, steady weight loss. Create a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise and eat right by making smart choices.
Pay attention to portion sizes—Share a dish when eating out or keep some for later if the portions are too large. At home, serve reasonable portions on small dishes (so they look bigger) and avoid second helpings.
Take a walk—Get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five to six days per week to use up the calories you take in and prevent weight gain. Aim for 60 to 90 minutes a day for substantial weight loss.
Get started—Begin healthful habits today to manage your weight for the rest of your life. Small steps count, so look for opportunities: take the stairs, park farther away, walk to shops.
Judith H. Dern is an independent writer living in Seattle who wouldn’t miss her daily neighborhood walk to watch for soaring bald eagles.