9 Step For Your Personal Weight Loss Plan

Step 1: Set yourself a goal

To help you succeed at losing weight, set an achievable goal and reward your positive behaviour. A goal has to be personal, specific, realistic and measurable.
Personal – you have to believe in and truly want to achieve your goal. For example, ‘I know that losing weight will allow me to fit into my clothes more comfortably and make me feel more confident, so I will begin to eat more healthily and take more exercise.’
Specific – you need to clearly define what you want to achieve then prioritise steps, organise plans and establish a timescale for reaching your goal. For example, ‘I will limit myself to one chocolate bar once a week, on Saturdays, and eat three portions of fruit each day in place of biscuits.’
Realistic – your goal has to be realistic and attainable for your body shape and lifestyle. For example, ‘I will lose 3 kilograms in six weeks.’
Measurable – you need to state how you will know when you’ve reached your goal. Keeping a food diary and training log will help you monitor your progress and allow you to see whether you met the goal. For example, ‘I will eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day of the week, as confirmed by my food diary.’
Agreed – agree your goal with someone else and write it down. This signals a commitment to change and makes it more likely that you will be successful.
Reward yourself – rewarding yourself when you have reached a goal helps you stay motivated and focused. Rewards can be something simple like a star for reaching a weekly target or something tangible like a new pair of shoes, a CD, a theatre trip or a beauty treatment.

Step 2: Visualise success

Visualise yourself looking slimmer. Draw a clear mental picture of how you will look and feel once you have achieved your goal. Focus hard on this image, including your face, body, clothes, hairstyle and as many colours and sounds as possible to help bring the image to life. Try to see yourself smiling, talking and moving around. Using visualisation in this way to persuade yourself that you are slim will give your body the message that being slim is a good thing. Very soon you will begin to eat healthier foods, become more active and achieve your weight loss goal.

Step 3: Get an idea of how many calories you should be eating

To lose weight, reduce your daily calorie intake by 15 per cent (multiply by 0.85). This will produce a calorie deficit of approximately 3,500 calories resulting in a fat loss of about 0.5 kg per week. (See ‘How many calories do I need?’ on page 2 to calculate your daily calorie needs.)

Step 4: Step up your physical activity

Increasing physical activity is an important part of your weight loss programme. For the best fat-burning results, make sure you include both resistance exercise and cardiovascular (endurance or aerobic) exercise in your weekly schedule. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends two weight training sessions a week in addition to three 20–40 minute sessions of aerobic activity.

Step 5: Keep a food diary

Keeping a food diary will give you a much clearer idea of where your calories are coming from. Write down everything that you eat and drink for three days (or longer if you can manage it), noting the portion weights and sizes. Try to be as accurate as possible, recording the weights of everything and remembering to write down each snack and drink. Be as honest as possible – include the handful of crisps, the biscuits while making tea, the pint of beer after work. You may be surprised how quickly the calories add up or how often you nibble. Now put your eating habits to the test by comparing your portions
with the recommendations of the Fitness Food Pyramid. Look at your food diary and identify the foods or drinks that really aren’t helping your fat loss efforts. Work out which types of food you need to reduce or increase.
Saturated and trans fats are non-essential and provide no benefit for the body. Main culprits are likely to be calorie-dense low-fibre snacks: biscuits, puddings, crisps, ice cream, cakes and chocolate bars.

Step 6: Eat mostly foods with a low energy density

Energy density is the number of calories in a fixed weight of food (usually expressed as calories per gram). Thus, foods with a low energy density contain relatively few calories per gram. To reduce your calorie intake and feel full on fewer calories, select mostly foods with an energy density less than 1.5. Eat foods with higher energy densities less often or in smaller portions.
You can lower the energy density of a dish or meal by adding water-rich ingredients (water has an energy density of zero) such as vegetables, salad or fruits, or by cutting out some of the fat. By increasing the amount of vegetables and fruit in a meal you can have satisfying portions for relatively few calories.
The fat content is also important – fat is the most energy dense nutrient (9 kcal per gram compared with 4 kcal per gram in protein or carbohydrate) and is, therefore, easy to overeat. If you take out some of the fat from a meal you can eat a larger portion for the same calories. For example, if you use skimmed milk instead of whole milk for making a sauce, you will get nearly twice as much for the same calories.

Step 7: Choose fibre-rich foods

Eating more fibre-rich foods can help to reduce calorie intake. Fibre expands in the gut, thereby making you feel fuller and helping to prevent overeating. It also helps to satisfy your hunger by slowing the rate that foods pass through your digestive system and stabilising blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that people who increased their fibre intake for 4 months ate fewer calories and lost an average of 5 lb – with no dieting!

Step 8: Include lean protein

High-protein foods suppress the appetite longer and help prolong satiety more than foods high in carbohydrate or fat. Therefore, make sure you include adequate amounts of lean protein. Skipping protein may induce hunger. Include 2–4 portions (140–280 g) of high-protein foods (poultry, fish, low-fat dairy foods, beans, eggs, tofu) daily, depending on your fitness programme or sport. Daily, you should aim for 1.2–1.8 g of protein per kg of body weight. However, eating more protein than you need won’t help you to
lose weight faster, boost your metabolism or build muscle.

Step 9: Eat less fat

Reducing the amount of fat you consume lowers the energy density of your diet. This means you can eat bigger portions for the same or even fewer calories. But don’t cut fat out of your diet completely – you need a certain amount of ‘healthy’ fats: the unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, seeds and their oils. Fats should provide around 20–25 per cent of calories consumed, with most coming from unsaturated sources. Cut down on foods rich in saturated and hydrogenated fats (butter, fatty meats, burgers, pastry, biscuits and cakes). Substitute reduced-fat or low-fat versions for high-fat foods (e.g. skimmed instead of whole milk). Use lower fat cooking methods (e.g. grilling instead of frying). Experiment with non-fat flavouring ingredients for your food, e.g. onions, garlic, lemon zest, herbs and spices.

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