It may not be easy, but it is simple.
In my experience – which includes about 20 years of unsuccessful dieting and 2 years of successful weight loss – I’ve found that losing weight is not nearly as complicated as it’s made out to be. It’s basic math:
Calories In < Calories Out = Weight Loss
Calories In > Calories Out = Weight Gain
Calories In = Calories Out = Maintain Weight
Monitor what you eat (ie: keep a food journal and count your calories!). Figure out how many calories you burn in a given week (both through your normal daily activities and through exercise). Crunch the numbers. This can be tough to do by hand, so I recommend a website called My Food Diary which makes it all very simple.
I’ve been using MFD for the last few years and it helped immensely. It’s a great tool with a HUGE built-in food database that also lets you add new foods and build and story recipes. It also has an exercise calculator and forums full of people who are in a similar situation and can offer help and advice. It does require membership (with a $9/month fee) but I have found it to be worth every penny. Using the tools provided by MFD is the number 1 thing that helped me to lose 75 pounds in a year.
One of the best features MFD has is the Daily Report. After you’ve logged all your food and exercise for the day, it generates a report for you that says:
If every day were like today:
You would lose ____ pounds per week.
In 3 months, you would weigh ____.
You would reach your goal weight on ____.
That report everyday was SO motivating! On good days, seeing what my progress would be was really a good feeling. And if it was a bad day (and said I would GAIN weight or something awful like that) I knew that I really had to change what I was doing. I found the estimates to be remarkably close, too. It’s all based on information you enter when you sign up, including your age, sex, basic activity level, etc.
There are all sorts of features that are included in their service – too many to list here. There are other food journal websites that don’t charge a fee, but they don’t seem to be as comprehensive as MFD. I’m sure they’d be helpful if you don’t have the money to spend, but I’ve always found that if it costs money, I’m more apt to use it. And again, it was worth the money to have access to all of their wonderful resources.
So yes, losing weight is simple. Just do the math!
But, losing weight is not easy. In order to make the equations lean to the “lose weight” side, you have to burn more calories than you take in. A pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. Spread that out over the course of a week, and you need to have a calorie deficit of 500 each day in order to lose 1 pound per week. That’s definitely doable, but it requires eating a little less and exercising a little more. This requires some willpower and motivation. That’s the hard part, but I swear: Start by logging your food and exercise and see first what you’re actually putting in your body. Just learning what you’re doing right and wrong will head you in the right direction.
Oh, and did I mention that MFD tells you exactly how many calories you personally should be eating on a daily basis? And it’s updated automatically every time you log your weight. It’s brilliant, really.
I’m not trying to sell you on MFD for any personal gains. Rather, I’m the type of person who loves to share products and services that I have found helpful and which I think would help others, and MFD tops my list. MFD changed my life, and I know it can do the same for you as well.
I highly recommend joining My Food Diary (www.myfooddiary.com) if you’re ready to start losing weight. Let me know what you think!