As we approach what is often referred to as "swimsuit season," a desire to look our best becomes a priority. This desire can motivate us to try weight loss options that we wouldn't normally consider or that may prove to be a risk on our health. Safe and healthy weight loss requires patience and self control along with some basic guidelines.
There are two basic factors that affect our body weight and body composition. One is the intake of calories, which is simply how much we eat. The other is the use or "burning" of those calories.
If you take in more calories than you use, then bodyweight can increase. Using more calories than you eat can create a caloric deficit which generally leads to weight loss.
Knowing how many calories you should consume in a day provides guidelines for calculating the proper reduction for weight loss, gain or maintenance. Resources such as choosemyplate.gov provide a reliable method to establish your caloric needs based on age, weight, height and activity levels.
You can also use apps that come with activity trackers like Fitbit, Apple Watch and Garmin. These apps even have built in food diaries to record your calories with each meal you eat.
Here are some other things to keep in mind as you prepare to achieve your weight loss goals.
- Healthy weight loss is at a rate of 1 to 2 lbs. a week.
- 1 lb. of body fat equals 3500 calories. To lose 1 lb. in a week, you would need to decrease your caloric intake by 500 calories a day or increase your caloric output 500 calories through exercise or physical activity.
- Recording what you eat every day not only calculates daily caloric intake, it also provides a view of where those calories are coming from.
- Federal recommendations on daily food intake suggest that half of your daily calories come from fruits and vegetables.
Regular exercise not only assists in weight management, it also can improve cardiovascular and circulatory health, increase bone density, lower blood pressure and help to reduce stress. Leading health and fitness organizations recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity a week.
Before beginning a weight loss or exercise program, you should see your doctor or a medical professional to reduce risks. They can also recommend a registered dietician for specific needs or issues.
Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle should not be considered seasonal. Using swimsuit weather as a motivator to start working on health goals is fine, but we should strive to maintain good nutrition and regular exercise and activity as a year round way of life.