The Untold Secret to Weight Loss

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A recent graduation and celebratory pool party 2 weeks ago forced me to realize that the summer season of shorts, tanks and bathing suits has suddenly arrived, front and center.  Time to strip off the long sweaters and pants only to don short skirts, sandals and of course…the swimsuit.  I’m never prepared for this moment of the year.  Somehow it takes me by surprise, sneaking up on me each time.  Ugh, swimsuits already?  I was totally going to lose a few pounds…really, I was.

Cherry red summer apple isolated on white It never fails that every summer brings about a frenzy of weight loss tips and diets telling us to lose weight and get our bodies bathing suit ready.  I see so many ads promoting miracle cures:  10 lbs in 5 days, quick summer detoxes, fail proof cleanses…  All promising quick weight loss with just a few simple secrets.  However, what people don’t realize, is that there is only ONE secret to weight loss.  Just one. WeightLoss3-002

What is it?  Well…the secret is…that there is no secret.  I know, not what you were expecting.  But I’m completely serious.  Losing weight isn’t about secrets and definitely not about any magic pills.  It’s about hard facts.  Simple, easy and clear.  If you want to lose weight, you gotta eat less and move more.  Nothing else.  Now, I know this is way easier said than done (especially as someone who’s currently trying to remove a few pounds).  But you can always rely on this fact – it never, ever fails.  I promise.

WeightLoss2-002 Here are some simple ways that you can “eat less” and “move more” and hopefully drop a few of those extra pounds:

  • Figure out how many calories you need.  This will help you plan out your meals and give you a ballpark figure on how much you can eat – and how much you should cut out to lose weight.  You can use a variety of online sites and calculators – but make sure you’re completely honest in the data you input, especially how active you are.  Here are some good sources:  NutriMirror, this WebMD Chart, or the SuperTracker from the USDA.  
  • Know this:  1 lb pound = 3,500 calories.  Generally, it’s healthy to lose 1-2 lbs/week.  So if you want to lose 1 lb per week you have to cut out or burn 500 calories/day (3,500 calories/7 days).  It’s best to cut out some food and increase your exercise to meet this goal.  But it’s really up to you how you want to do it.  Also, this is assuming your basing this calculation on the appropriate amount of calories for your age, height, weight and sex.  Example:  if you’re allotted 2000 calories/day, you’ll want to consume around 1500 calories to lose 1 lb a week – that’s cutting out 500 calories a day!
  • Journal it.  Keeping a journal or food diary can really give you some insight into what you’re eating, where you can cut items and keep you on track.  Most importantly, it allows you to see what calories look like.  If you’re allotted 2000 calories a day, what does that look like in terms of foods?  Well, use calorie counters like Calorie King, NutriMirror or MyFitness Pal and find out.  You’ll figure out quickly how much actual food you should be eating daily.
  • Don’t over do it.  Some people may look at these tips and think, well maybe I’ll cut twice as many calories and eat only 800 or 1000 calories a day to lose weight twice as fast.  No.  This doesn’t work.  Not even remotely.  When you starve your body (which you would essentially be doing ) you’re body goes into starvation mode.  This means your metabolism slows WAY down and your body does everything to conserve energy since it’s not getting any energy in.  Your body will actually decrease the amount of calories it burns and you’ll see no weight loss from this.
  • Move it!  It’s not an unknown fact that exercise aids in weight loss.  However, I usually don’t recommend relying on exercise solely to burn calories.  It takes a lot of work to burn off 400 calories (think like an hour of running), but a lot easier to stuff in 400 calories worth of french fries.  You need to work out for cardiovascular health, but should focus on what foods you put into your body for weight loss.  The 2010 Guidelines for Americans recommends about 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise 5-6 days a week.
  • And lastly, eat less.  This isn’t really all that hard to do.  People just don’t feel like doing it.  It requires willpower, motivation and diligence – hard stuff.  But start with following portion sizes on packaged goods, use measuring cups and spoons, don’t go back for seconds, limit unnecessary snacking and try drink a glass of water before meals.  And remember it’s OK to feel hunger – it’s hard to lose weight if you’re never hungry.

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