There are no easy answers when it comes to weight loss. There is a reason there are so many fad diets and products on the market. Here are some tools to use as you build the body you want while embracing the body you have.
  1. Know your ideal weight range
    Calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) using a BMI chart or calculator. Then look at the weights for a BMI of 19-25 for your height. For my height the range is 100-132 pounds. I could never be healthy at 100 lbs. my build puts me at the high end of the range, which is perfectly healthy. If you are anywhere in the normal range weight loss need not be your goal. If you are above the normal range for your height, calculate how much weight you need to lose to get to a BMI of 25.
  2. Set a realistic goal
    Safe weight loss is MAX 1-2 pounds per week. Rapid weight loss is usually unhealthy and results in rebound weight gain. This is a marathon, not a sprint. See how many weeks you need to lose weight safely. This may seem daunting when you think about the amount of time, but focus on the weekly goal—heck, my weight fluctuates by 1-2 pounds from morning to night—losing that in a week feels much more doable.
  3. Count but don't count
    If you are anything like me, calorie counting quickly becomes obsessive. At first it's fun but after a few days I'm counting almonds and looking up the calories in basil. It becomes so central to my day I'm miserable. Instead calculate the recommended calories per day for your size (there are tons of calculators online) and know the approximate calories of foods you eat regularly. Be aware of your calorie intake and if you are over or under-shooting you goal, but don't let it run your life.
  4. Cut out your emptiest calories first
    Soda and juice are the first things I recommend getting rid of. If you cut back by one soda a day (or switched to diet), you would lose 1 pound a month by doing that alone! If you eat candy at your desk or eat a bag of chips with lunch even though you are plenty full from your sandwich, cut back or cut them out.
  5. Make small changes you can commit to
    Don't think of it as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle change. Find ways you think you can change your eating habits permanently. Maybe that's getting the side salad instead of fries, or maybe it's going for the turkey sandwich instead of tuna salad at your work sponsored lunches
  6. Stop bringing junk food into your house
    We can't always control the food that is provided for us. It's nearly impossible to turn down donuts in the break room or birthday cupcakes in the office. We are only human. You do, however, have control over the food you buy and keep in your house. If you don't buy Oreos and Nutella, you can't dip Oreos in Nutella at 11 at night while you watch back to back episodes of your favorite show
  7. Forget the food pyramid
    The new visual is the myplate which is half veggies and fruit, a quarter whole grain carbs and a quarter protein (meats, beans, eggs) with a side of dairy. This is how you should build your meals
  8. Pump iron
    We all know exercising burns calories, but did you know having more muscle mass increases your metabolism? Muscle requires more calories than fat to maintain, so getting toned will make you burn more calories—it's the best positive feedback loop ever!
  9. Know when to stop
    Know your body, and know when it's time to stop. We aren't all meant to be a size 2. We may never get back to our high school weight. That's ok. That isn't the point—it's about having a healthy body that is a healthy weight for your frame.
  10. What about diet pills and supplements?
    Most over-the-counter diet pills and supplements are not FDA regulated and some contain amphetamine derivatives. There are prescription diet pills as well. They are hard on the body, especially the cardiovascular system, and most of them are only approved for short-term use and there is often weight gain when people stop taking them. In general I recommend against diet pills. Unfortunately there are no easy answers when it comes to weight loss
  11. But you didn't tell me what to eat!
    If you've paid attention long enough, you have probably heard many foods go back and forth in pop culture—eggs are bad for you, no they're good for you, oh no wait, they're bad again. There are no secret best foods. Just try to eat real, unprocessed foods in the proportions of the myplate without too many sweets afterwards!