Five Step Weight Loss Plan

 Try this 5 Step Weight Loss Plan for Healthier Living!

Are you having trouble losing weight? 

Have you made changes, but they don’t seem to be making a difference?

Read more to try this easy to follow five step weight loss plan. 

If you are ready to make some adjustments, this plan will work for you! 

Why this plan works:   If you have been slowly gaining weight or having trouble losing weight, take a closer look at your calorie intake.  Even if you are fairly active, you still may be eating and drinking too much.  Many adults are eating hundreds of extra calories than is recommended for their age.  Making a few simple changes can help you get closer to your optimal calorie range.  Then you will start to lose that weight!

By paying more attention to what you eat and making smarter choices, you can start reducing your calories and begin to lose weight.  If you are looking for a quick, easy way to lose weight, stop reading, this is not for you.  If you are serious about living a healthier lifestyle, eating smarter foods, adding some exercise and committing to making real changes, stay here and keep reading!

FIVE STEP WEIGHT LOSS PLAN

 Find your target calorie intake based on your age and activity level.

       (see chart for details)

 Look Honestly at your current daily calorie intake.  You may be eating and drinking more calories than you think.

 Identify your problem meals, tricky foods and danger zones.  By finding and fixing the pitfalls in your daily eating habits, you can improve your intake.

 Choose some smart food replacements to help fix your highest calorie times.  By making some smarter food swaps, you will easily reduce your daily calories.

 Add some activity to your day to help increase your metabolism and help your body burn more of the calories.  The more activity you add to your day, the more calories your body will burn.

Step 1.  Find your Target Calorie Intake

How many calories should you have each day?

Are you staying within the recommended calorie range for your age and activity level? 

Do you even know how many calories you should be eating?  No clue?  I had no idea either until just a few years ago.

First, find out your general calorie range.  As a guideline for adults age 30-60, the USDA recommends between 1600 and 2200 calories per day for females and males 2400 to 3000 calories.  Since your metabolism slows as you age, a 25-year-old can eat 2200 calories but a 55-year-old should only be eating 1800 calories per day.

Use the chart below, to determine your optimal calorie intake based on your age and current activity level.

USDA Calorie Chart

Click Here for the Full Chart

 

Step 2.  Look Honestly at your current daily calorie intake.

If you have never paid attention to calories, you are hardly alone.  If you think maybe you should peek at the calories you eat, keep reading. 

Start by writing down a few sample days of what you would typically eat.  Click Here for a printable worksheet to help you!  When you make your list of what you eat in a day, be sure to include meals, snacks and also drinks.  It is easy to kid ourselves into thinking we don’t eat that much.

You can try this simple test: write down from memory approximately what you ate and drank for the last two days.  Next, keep track all day long, of each item, you eat, drink and even nibble on for 2-3 days.  See how the lists compare, did you forget to include some snacks and drinks?  Most people do!

Do you eat more calories, more often than you thought?    The good news is; you can fix that!

To check the calories of your foods, there are many options.  You can check, package labels, look up foods on the web or use one of the many apps available for calorie tracking.  You can guesstimate portion amounts to get approximate serving size.  To be really accurate, take out measuring cups, spoons and a scale, but this is rarely necessary.  This will be the most time consuming of the 5 steps and it will get easier as you go!

When you have your food list complete, start looking up the calories for each meal, snack and drink.  This is where the internet and apps come in very handy.  It is easy to look up approximate calories for meals for foods.

If you are brave enough, try using an app to track everything you eat and drink for several days or a week.  Then you will get a very accurate idea of what you eat rather than what you think you eat.

Click Here for a good post with Pros and Cons of 5 top Calories Counting Apps.

When I got serious about eating healthier foods and making smarter calorie choices, I used My Fitness Pal to track all my food.  One of the many great features of MFP is that is scans the bar codes and gives you all the nutritional information you need.

My favorite part of losing weight was that I felt younger and had more energy. 

If you are 40 years old (female) and moderately active, you should be eating approximately 2000 calories each day to maintain your current weight.  If you total up some typical days, you may see that you are hundreds of calories over, each day.  Don’t panic, just make a plan to learn to track your calories better.  Start by fixing one meal at a time. 

Don’t worry, you won’t need to keep counting calories forever!  Just do it for a few weeks to get a good idea of all your favorite foods.  Then you will devise your new, smarter eating plan!

My favorite part of losing weight was that I felt younger and had more energy.  My big weight loss was taking off 18 pounds after having four children.  More about that weight loss Here.  In recent years, I have lost another 7 pounds with the help of tracking my calories. 

Do I count every calorie anymore?  No! 

Do I pay more attention to what I eat?  Absolutely! 

My Motivation and Willpower stay strong because this plan works!

Step 3.  Identify your problem meals, tricky foods and danger zones.

Often, it is easy to overlook the calories you are eating and drinking each day.  Little snacking here and there can add up throughout the day.  Watch your meal choices and snacks to be sure they are not adding too many extra calories.

Here are some Calorie samples for common foods:

Coffee with cream & sugar                           50 – 80 Calories

Mocha Frappuccino coffee                           270 – 520 Calories

4 popular sandwich cookies                        180 – Calories

Milk with the cookies                                     103 – 148 Calories

Popular Granola bar                                      100 – 190+ Calories

Apple                                                                    90 – 115 Calories

Banana                                                                100 – 130 Calories

Deli style Tuna Sandwich                             300 – 600+ Calories

Fast food Ham & Cheese Hero                   230 – 475+ Calories

Fast Food Cheeseburger                              190 – 450+ Calories

can of Cola                                                         120 – 150 Calories

Flavored Seltzer                                              0 Calories!

Slice of Pizza                                                     270 – 410 Calories

Chicken Parmigiana Dinner w/pasta      300 – 700 Calories

If fast food chains, convenience stores or even vending machines are a danger zone for you – Be Prepared!! 

Have food with you so that you can avoid the temptation!

One of the smart changes I made was keeping healthier snacks on hand all day.  For years, I have been keeping a stash of 100-150 calorie, smarter snacks in the house, at work and even in my car.  This stops me from hitting the vending machine, deli or drive through.



Step 4.  Choose some smart food replacements. 

This step will help fix your highest calorie foods.  Be careful with your changes, make them slowly so they last.  Rather than trying to go on a crash diet, slowly develop better eating habits and food replacements.  You want to make smart changes that will become part of your daily routine and will stick with you over time.

Below are several of my food replacements that helped me to lose weight and keep it off.

On a sandwich, use mustard instead of mayonnaise.

Consider yogurt and fruit for breakfast instead of a bacon egg sandwich on a roll.

For a snack choose almonds, dried fruit an apple rather than cookies, yodels or potato chips.

Rather than a fast food lunch, bring a sandwich or salad from home.  This saves calories and money at the same time!

For lunch, eat half a sandwich and some fruit or veggies.

For dinner, replace a starch with a green vegetable instead.

Instead of putting butter on your broccoli or beans, try lemon juice.

When you put your mind to it, there are many smarter substitutions you can make.

This list could turn into a small book.  You know what you like and are willing to eat. 

Use these links below to find more smart food replacements.

American Heart Association – Smart Substitutions

Shape Magazine – Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food

Shape Magazine – 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss

LifeHacker – Healthy Substitutions

Food Replacements from Swanson Health Products

HelpGuide – Better Fast Food Choices

Greatist – Healthy Recipe Substitutions

Step 5.  Add some activity to your day!   

This will help to help increase your metabolism and help your body burn more of those calories.  Whatever your current activity level is, try to add just a little more!  If your day involves a lot of sitting, try to make a point to get up more often.

This can mean adding: walking, bowling, canoeing, body weight exercises like squats or planks, jogging, yoga, Pilates, gardening, bike riding or any other activity that works for you.   The main idea is to add More Activity to your day!

Here is a general idea of how many calories you can burn per hour of exercise.

(based on Mayo Clinic list and an adult weighing 160 lbs, for the full listing, click below)

Walking can burn 200 calories per hour

Bike Riding can burn 292 calories per hour

Hiking can burn 438 calories per hour

Dancing can burn 219 calories per hour

For More Exercises:  Mayo Clinic – How much am I burning?

There are plenty of sites to look up calorie burn for specific exercises.  They can get very specific having you put in your current weight and intensity level of exercise.  If you have time and do a specific exercise all the time, you may want to know the related calorie burn.

This is one of the reasons I like my Fitbit for tracking my steps.  My Fitbit does all the work for me! 

Not only does it track my daily steps it also tracks my active minutes (more vigorous walking or jogging), flight of stairs climbed and even how much sleep I get.  When I use Fitbit in conjunction with My Fitness Pal, it tells me how many extra calories I am able to eat based on how much exercise I did that day.  I don’t have the intention of eating more food because I did some exercise.  But, if I do want some ice cream as a treat, I know I have burned enough calories to cover my indulgence!

More about Fitness & Exercise in these posts:

Benefits to Morning Exercise

How I lost 18 pounds

Getting started with Fitbit

Don’t forget to get your free calorie tracking worksheets!   There are a few extra freebies for you as well!

Thanks for reading, I hope you find this helpful.  Check back for more post on Healthy Eating, Fitness and losing weight.   Please help me by sharing this post on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or your favorite Social Media.

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