Having the desire to lose weight is necessary.  Check.  Having a plan in place is also necessary.  Check?  Well, truth is, most people don’t really have a solid plan when it comes right down to it.  Isn’t that sort of the reason why there are so many of us trying to lose that pesky 5 kgs?  You get the idea.

The bottom line is that it’s the very very (very) rare person who can get into their ideal shape with diet alone – or exercise alone. These two things go hand in hand when you get serious about your overall health and fitness goals.  But where do you start? 

One friend may tell you that you must work out in the morning; but that’s your busiest time of day. 

One friend may tell you that you must cut out the carbs completely; but extra protein makes you feel sluggish and heavy.  So, you procrastinate until you can find the “right way” to lose weight.

Well the wait is over!  Here, we are going to give you some solid information about how to incorporate your personal tastes into a diet and exercise program that will work to dwindle your waistline and tighten those muscles!

Nutrition – Your Starting Point

Nobody likes to diet.  The term seems to signify a withholding of all things good and tasty.  For most, therefore, going on a diet is like doomsday.  Try a different approach to reach weight loss success!  But first, let’s start from the very beginning.

Step one is to decide how much weight you would like to lose. Don’t sabotage yourself by making unrealistic goals.  Remember, a kg is equal to about 7700 calories – which means you have to create a deficit of that many calories to lose a kg.  Clearly, most people could not create that much of a deficit in a single day.  Typically, about .5 to 1kg a week is safe and doable.

Sure, you could resort to living on protein shakes and bars; but you will see in a little bit just why you don’t want to lose weight through diet alone.  To break down that 7700 calories for a week, you could determine to burn an extra 500 calories per day and cut 500 calories from your diet.  Depending on what you currently take in, this could be quite simple!

To get your calories under control, it is recommended to use a food journal.  With technology as prevalent as it is today, it is very easy to keep a food journal online or right on your Smartphone (think Food Diary)!  Figwee is one online journal where you can track what you eat each day AND what you burn each day. This form of journaling takes out pretty much all the guesswork.

To journal manually – for the non-techies – you will need a calorie counter book.  These are easily found in just about any bookstore.  You will also need a spiral notebook in which to log your daily intake. 

Create three columns:  Time – Food – Calories.  It helps to break down the calories for each component as much as possible.  Instead of logging “sandwich” at 300 calories, log the bread and the meat separately. 

You just may find it’s better to stick with a salad and forego the bread! When keeping a journal, it is important to track not only food but also drinks.  A single, non-diet soda can send you over your calories or rob you of necessary nutrients if you consume that in place of a healthy meal.

When deciding on a diet plan, keep balance in mind.  Cutting extra calories will only leave you too tired to maintain your workout routine. 

Women should consume anywhere from 1300 to 2000 calories a day depending on the intensity of their workouts.  Men should consume between 2000-2500 calories a day keeping the same guidelines in mind.  Going back to the online food journal; determining your daily caloric intake is easy, requiring only that you enter how many pounds per week you wish to lose.

Exercise – The Kick in the ….

We said nutrition and exercise go hand in hand; and how we will tell you exactly why.  Without working your muscles, you simply cannot get the weight loss results you are after.  Why?  Because muscle burns more calories; plain and simple.

Just as your diet needs to be well-rounded; so does your workout routine.  Spending hours out of your week on the treadmill, the elliptical or the bike will improve your cardiovascular system and will enable you to shed some weight. 

However, there is one area where women, in particular, tend to lose focus; their muscles. Studies have shown that 25 percent of the total weight you lose is muscle.

That may look great on the scale, but it certainly won’t look as good as you think in the mirror.  

Adding weight training into your exercise routine means that your weight loss is more likely to be 100 percent fat; now THAT’S sculpting!

Building muscle does not mean you turn in to the hulk.  Even if weight training doesn’t seem fun to you; it is a necessary part of your workout!

Here is a quick and easy workout sample for beginners.

Warm Up – spend 5 minutes walking outside or on a treadmill.
Stretch – spend a few minutes stretching arms, legs, and back.   Try slowly swinging arms from the shoulders in a forward motion, and then in reverse.  Slowly roll neck in one direction and then the other.

Resistance training options:
• Using your own weight is free and easy!  Perform 5 reps of 20 – 25 sit ups; 5 reps of 5- 10 push-ups (ease it up by resting on the knees instead of the toes); and 5 reps of 25-30 squats.
• Take a fun weight training class at your local gym
• Train with resistance or weights for approximately 20 minutes

Cardio training options:
• Get outside and go for a 30-45 minute walk or jog
• Walk or run on a treadmill for 30-45 minutes at a speed of 3.0 – 4.0 and an incline of 2-5
• “Walk” on an elliptical trainer at a level of 2-5 for 30-45 minutes
• Play a sport
• Take a dance class

Tips:
• Remember to track drinks as well as food
• Consume small meals approximately every four hours
• Use the help of a scale instead of “eyeballing” portion sizes
• Work out at least 4 times per week for at least one hour
• Incorporate weight training into your weekly workout regimen
• Work large and small muscle groups to get the best calorie burn
• Find activities that you enjoy and you’re more likely to keep up your exercise routine for the long haul
• Start slow if you are new to exercising, especially resistance training
• Take one session with a personal trainer at your gym to learn how to lift weights correctly.  Even if using machines at the gym, one mistake can cause undue injury.