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Weight Loss and Fitness: Set Activity Goals You Can Meet

Be active every day. It will help you control blood sugar levels and boost your energy and overall mood. Moving your body every day will also help you take off extra weight. Look over these goals:

  • I will walk around the neighborhood after dinner for 30 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • I will get off the bus two stops early and walk the rest of the way to work.
  • I will sign up for the Tuesday night low-impact aerobics class at the gym.
  • I will track my activity every day by writing it on my personal calendar.

To make your own list of goals, think about what will work for you. Be specific about when, where, and how you can reach each goal. It's fine to start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.

Mix up your routine -- plan different activities you can do during the week. Experts recommend a mix of aerobic activities and strength-training exercises. Aerobic exercise could include walking, climbing stairs, dancing, or swimming. Strength training uses weights or exercise bands to strengthen muscles. This should be part of your exercise routine at least 2-3 days a week. Ask your doctor before you start an exercise program to make sure it's safe for you.

Calories and Weight Loss

Keep in mind that you need to burn 3,500 more calories than usual in food and drinks to lose 1 pound. To lose 1 pound a week, you could cut 500 calories a day or bump up your physical activity to burn 500 more calories a day. Or you could do some of each.

For instance, if you skip the cheese on your lunchtime sandwich, drink seltzer with lime instead of a regular soda, and eat a fun-sized candy bar instead of a large one, you'll cut out 300 calories. (Food labels and serving sizes can help you know how much you're cutting.) Add a 30-minute brisk walk and you'll burn about 200 more calories.

That's just one approach. To create your own weight loss plan, you might ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietician. A dietician can give you healthy eating tips and help you design a plan that will work for you.

Plan for Weight Loss Challenges

Think about all the things that happen during the day that make you want to overeat or make less-than-healthy choices. Job stress can be one, especially if your office mate keeps a tin of chocolate on her desk. Boredom can also trigger mindless snacking, and so can watching TV.

Create a list of your biggest weight loss hurdles and how to deal with each one. At work, vary your path to your desk so you don't see your colleague's tempting chocolate. At home, take on a small project or new hobby that keeps you away from the TV.

Keep on hand healthy snacks that are also tasty and filling for the times when cravings are likely to strike. Keep water handy as well, and don't forget to drink it. Water can make you feel full and has zero calories.

Take a moment to look at each small success. A lifestyle change is hard, and you deserve to feel proud of your efforts. Over time, you'll see the benefits of these lifestyle changes in the form of better overall health and well-being. Stick with these changes, and as time passes, you're likely to meet -- and perhaps pass -- your first weight loss goal.