Saturday, July 17, 2010

Start the Weight Loss Challenge

Are you ready to lose 10 pounds in five weeks? Then start now.

The plan for Week 1:
Figure out in advance what you will eat for each day's meal and snack. Write out a daily menu, spreading your caloric intake evenly between your meals and snacks. On this plan, you will need to knock off 500 calories daily from your normal eating habits, as detailed in your Baseline Diet Diary (if you haven't kept a baseline diet diary, do this first). You can also track your eating and exercise habits on My Wellness Center. This week's focus is to improve your diet by eating more nutritious and lower-calorie foods. Reduce calories in small ways—choosing lower-fat items, substituting lower-calorie spread and dressings, cutting out the liquid calories, and so on. For more ideas, read this week's Eat Smart tips. Log your meals and snacks in a Daily Diet Diary (download .pdf forms). Keep a running calorie total to ensure that you're within your target range.

Walk the fat off. Follow a daily walking routine. No matter what, fit in some exercise every day. But if a workout feels too strenuous, back off slightly. (See "Walk the Fat Off" to the right.)

Notice what feels easy and what's tough. Changing your diet and activity level may seem relatively easy this week, when you're off to a fresh start. But to stick to a plan, it's important to recognize trouble spots early on and find ways around them. If you're hooked on sodas, for example, you may find it hard to stay away from them. Instead of just giving up sodas, you should find a satisfying substitute that has fewer calories. That means experimenting with different diet flavors, trying various brands of bottled water, or bringing your own unsweetened iced tea to work so you won't be tempted by the vending machines. Whatever your weakness, try to think of similar strategies that will ensure you won't deviate from your path to weight loss.

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