A successful weight loss program requires permanently changing the way a person approaches exercise and food for the rest of their life. But it can be done! To offer help, the Wellness Advisor offers these tips for a sensible plan for losing weight and keeping it off.

Step 1: Set Realistic Goals

It is important to set a reasonable weight loss goal in a reasonable amount of time. For example, losing 10 pounds in two weeks is unrealistic. However, losing 10 pounds in eight weeks is more reasonable. Unrealistic goals set you up for discouragement and failure. To begin with, a 5-10% weight loss of your initial weight is suggested and is associated with many health benefits.

Step 2: Lifestyle Changes

Keep a food diary recording everything you eat, drink, and taste throughout the day, and what you were doing at the time, and how you felt. This keeps you in tune to exactly what and how much you are eating. It also informs you of temptations or emotional states that may encourage eating/snacking which may help you lose weight moving forward. Food diaries are an important part to the success of a weight loss plan.

Start making changes to eat a better diet. Strive to eat a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Start by gradually adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Whole fruits and vegetables are best, but using frozen vegetables and incorporating them into recipes to increase your intake is a first step.

Step 3: Determine Your Daily Caloric Needs

Think of your body as a math problem, and you are trying to balance how many calories go in with how many calories go out. First it is important to determine your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Second, you can then add or limit calories based on your activity level. Here is a formula you can use to determine your daily caloric needs:

For women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kilos) + (1.8 x height in cm) - (4.7 x age in years).

For men: BMR = 66.5 + (13.7 x weight in kilos) + (5 x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years)

Notes: 1 inch = 2.54 cm
1 kilogram = 2.2 lbs.

Activity Factor:
· If you are Sedentary - little or no exerciseCalorie-Calculation = BMR X 1.2
· If you are Lightly Active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week)Calorie-Calculation = BMR X 1.375
· If you are Moderately Active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week)Calorie-Calculation = BMR X 1.55
· If you are Very Active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week)Calorie-Calculation = BMR X 1.725
· If you are Extra Active (very hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2X day training)Calorie-Calculation = BMR X 1.9

Your total daily calorie requirement (BMR x Activity Factor) is the total number of calories you need in order to maintain your current weight. Generally, for safe, successful weight loss, it is recommended to lose 1-2 pounds per week. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. Therefore you would need to cut back between 500 and 1,000 calories per day to achieve this rate of weight loss. Cutting too many calories may set you up for dissappointment and, possibly, failure. It can lead to deprivation, overeating, and ultimately weight gain.

Step 4: Exercise

Another very important aspect to successful weight maintenance or weight loss, is exercise. Exercise burns calories, and we know excess calories causes weight gain. Weight loss requires a healthy balanced diet, however, you must take in less calories than you need for the day. Walking is a great weight-loss exercise - it's simple, inexpensive and doesn't require any equipment. Also, weight training is beneficial. It helps to build muscle, and muscle is metabolically active tissue. This means the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even at rest! Note: Before starting an exercise program, obtain physician's clearance, if necessary. If you currently have or are at risk for any health problems, or are taking any prescription medication(s), you should first consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.

If you are a smoker, it is important to try quitting or start a smoking cessation program. Quitting smoking will lead to better overall health, including a healthy heart. The success of stopping such a bad habit can be used as a motivation to keep you on track with your weight loss, while putting you on the road to better health!

Source: Naturemade