With summer right around the corner, many people are looking to shed a few of those extra pounds. But dieting is full of risks and pitfalls– and can sometimes lead to disordered eating and other serious problems! How can you diet safely? Read on to discover how to go about dieting, goal setting, and exercising, with some tips about resources and apps that you can download to help you on your fitness journey!
Like anything else when it comes to your health, it is a great idea to set some goals so you can measure your progress! When setting goals, whether they are for fitness, weight loss, or even for other areas of your life, keep them S.M.A.R.T– specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, realistic, and timely!
In other words, pick one particular aspect of your health to focus on: like your weight, your percentage of body fat, waist measurement, or something else concrete and able to be measured! Once you have one measurement that you want to focus on, pick a decrease (or increase!) that you should be able to attain. For example, don’t tell yourself that you are going to lose nine pounds a week– that’s nearly impossible! Lastly, make sure that each goal has a timeframe attached to it– if you want to lose 60 pounds, try to give yourself a time that you want to do it by, whether that is an event like a wedding or an arbitrary date that you mark in your calendar.
Once you’ve made your S.M.A.R.T goal, determine what dieting, exercise, meditation, or anything else you need to reach your goal, and break it down month by month, week by week, or day by day. But how do you determine what diet, exercise, or schedule you need to complete your goals? Read on to find out!
Diet Dos and Don’ts
If you are looking to fit into last year’s bikini, the natural first step would be to start changing your eating patterns into some diet. But with all sorts of fitness teas, trend diets, and dieting supplements, what is the best, most efficient option on the market today that won’t leave you feeling empty, irritable, or lead to disordered eating? That depends on your very own body!
For some people, simple calorie counting works. For others, shooting for a macronutrient goal every day seems to shred pounds (more on that later.) Other people work well on a keto diet or with juice cleanses. So how do you determine what diet is for you? Like the adage says, if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again!
When you do start to count your calories, make sure that you have enough to eat. Juice cleanses, the fabled Beyonce maple syrup and lemon juice cleanse, and liquefying everything you eat are not sustainable, and at the end of the day, these make you hungry, lightheaded, and lead to you shooting back up in weight when you eventually stop. If you or a friend has symptoms of an eating disorder, which can include skipping meals, stopping eating around others, cutting entire groups of foods out of their diet, fainting, and dressing in layers to stay warm, encourage them to get help. Resources for them include the National Eating Disorder Association, Eating Disorder Hope, and other local or national sources. Wanting to lose weight is a healthy desire, but make sure to do it healthily!
A great place to start is simple calorie counting. Counting calories, and shooting for something around your base metabolic rate, or BMR, which you can find out online in BMR calculators, is a great first attempt. If that doesn’t work for you, other healthy diets you can try include the paleo diet, which aims to eliminate processed foods from your diet, the ketogenic (or keto) diet, which removes carbs, or just counting the ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and protein to each other.
All of these diets are great options if pure calorie counting isn’t a strategy that is working for you. Apps that you can download to help you with the dieting food aspect of your diet include MyFitnessPal, Fooducate, and Lose It! All of these apps give you a healthy range of calories, percentages of carbs, fats, and proteins that you should be eating, and allow you to track your progress on your goals!
Now that you’ve got your eating under control have you thought about exercise? Dieting is the best way to lose weight, but training allows your body to strengthen itself and become stronger. Even if you are trying to lose weight, lifting weights is a great way to get your body started before you do your cardio, and lifting weights helps your body look lean once you’ve lost the fat. Don’t be intimidated by the machines in the gym– many gyms have orientations for the machinery, and you can do plenty of strengthening exercises without the added weight!
Your goals should determine your exercise routine, but as a rule of thumb– try to hit the gym or at least work out for three to four times a week, mixing in cardio and weight training for the best effect. Working out one muscle group each day you exercise is the consensus and combining your cardio with weight training can prove to be effective. Apps that can help you design and stick to a workout plan include JEFIT, Workout Trainer, the Fitbit Trainer app, the Nike+ Training Club, Sworkit, and MapMyFitness. All of these apps allow you to individualize your workout plans and get what you need out of each workout!
In short, dieting and working out is an individual choice that has different implications for different people. Counting your calories, going to the gym, and logging your food intake should all be trialed until you find what works for you. Do you have any diet recommendations or workout apps that you use? Let us know in the comments below!