Why is it important to maintain an ideal weight?

In short, when you control your weight you control the key factors to your overall health. Lowering body weight, even as little as 10%, has been shown to have phenomenal health benefits that can be more effective than medications. It can help reverse or prevent diabetes and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Excess fat hits more than just your waistband. Life expectancy, medical expenses, productivity, mobility, and self-confidence are all affected. The path to better health is straightforward and simple: eat smart, get active, and stay accountable. True wellness means a life unfettered by weight and illness. It means enjoying your golden years actively with your great-grandchildren. Wellness is so much more than a number on a scale. It’s living a life full of vitality and loving it.

Getting healthy benefits more than just your body. A number of recent studies have reported a link between exercise and maintaining brain and cognitive health throughout your entire life.

Planning your pathway to wellness is just like planning any other journey. You have to know your starting point, your destination, and define any checkpoints along the way. Knowing where you are now brings clarity to where you want to go. Without that critical factor, it’s far too easy to lose direction and get discouraged.

The secret is knowing one critical number … your daily calorie limit. When it comes to losing weight, there is one universal truth. You have to take in fewer calories than your burn. This can be achieved by eating less, exercising more, or both. Weight loss cannot happen unless there is a “calorie deficit”.

How do you know how many calories you need to lose weight? You need to know your calorie limit. Your calorie limit tells you how many net calories you need to consume each day to maintain your current weight.

(Click here for a ‘Calorie Calculator’ and other helpful tools.)

To determine how many calories you should eat each day, simply take your daily calorie limit and subtract 500 or 100 depending on your goal. For moderate weight loss, your daily calorie limit should be -500 calories per day equaling one pound per week. For more significant weight loss your daily calorie limit should be -1000 calories per day to equal two pounds per week. Any more would not be healthy weight loss.

A 500 calorie deficit in your day will make more difference than you may think. If you go on a brisk 45-minute walk (-220 calories) and trade two cans of soda for an unsweetened drink or water (280 calories) you have a 500 calories deficit.

Choose your calories wisely. When it comes to managing your weight, any real, lasting change will unavoidably involve changes in how you eat. That doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself.

When it comes to carbohydrates, complex is best. Have cereals, green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grain breads; instead of candy, soda, and refined breads. Making four simple switches is enough to lose 10 pounds of fat a year! Choose mozzarella instead of cheddar, popcorn instead of potato chips, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and salad instead of French fries. Those few changes add up to about 35,000 calories a year.

Most of us have believed that we should eat ‘three good meals a day’. Anyone who has ever struggled to lose weight can tell you that the six-hour gap between lunch and dinner can seem much longer indeed and can often lead to cheating on your diet or eating more. Eating three smaller meals and two substantial snacks throughout the day makes much more sense and makes losing weight easier. What difference does it make? It makes quite a bit of difference, actually. Eating smaller meals more often can boost the rate at which you burn calories, make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients, and stabilize your blood sugar levels over the course of the day.

Important: While the number of times you eat each day should increase, your total daily caloric intake should not. In short, eat smaller meals more often. Give your stomach time to adjust to this strategy. Your stomach will shrink and after time, the idea of eating 3 large meals will be unappetizing. To calm your grumbling tummy in the meantime, keep plenty of water on hand.

Beware of portion distortion! Over the last 20 years, this nation’s portion sizes have expanded dramatically. A typical restaurant portion is nearly twice the recommended amount. As a rough rule of thumb, consider your fist as a full portion size.

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