Now that you've done your calculations to find out how much you should weigh as well as how much food you are throwing out during the week as food waste, it's time to discuss how to get to your goal weight.
The most obvious way of doing so is the old diet and exercise routine. Frankly, regardless of how many fad diets, books, and other get-thin programs there are out there, it all comes down to one simple concept:
If you take in more calories than your body burns, you will gain weight. If you take in less calories than your body burns, you will lose weight. Sorry, I don't have a Crunchy Chicken wand with super enlightening weight loss magic. The trick is to balance everything correctly. And that's where we all need some magic.
The calorie input/output part can be managed in various ways:
1. Eat less
2. Exercise more
3. Eat less and exercise more
If you go with just the eating less part, you will eventually lose weight, but you'll keep it off successfully only if you do it really gradually with losing nor more than one or two pounds a week. The problem with just focusing on the food is that it is easy to go overboard and decide that if I eat 400 calories less a day, then eating 800 calories less a day is even better. The good news is it's not better. So eat. For most people it's unhealthy to eat less than 1400 calories a day. Some (shorter) people can push it to 1200, but I think you're courting problems.
If you severely limit you calorie intake, your body switches over into starvation mode. So, even though you are eating less, your body thinks that Armageddon is here and starts storing up like mad. That's why you'll see yourself gaining weight even though you are only eating 800 calories a day. You will also find that you will hit a point where your resolve can't keep up and you'll eat more than you should. A lot more than you should. That's because your body will eventually convince your brain (no matter how hard you try) that the entire chocolate cake sitting in front of you needs to be eaten. Now. When you are that hungry you just can't think very clear. Few people have that sort of resolve.
What about just exercising and not worrying about diet? Well, I think that can be a successful way of managing your weight. Unless you miscalculate how many calories you consume during the day. Once you start exercising your body will crave more calories. So, not only will you be more hungry, but you also may have a false sense of how many calories you burned during your exercise. You end up convincing yourself that you've "earned" that extra calorie-laden item. And you end up not losing weight. Then you get disgruntled because you are exercising more and think you are eating less, yet the scale won't budge.
Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone. The big problem here is that you are fighting against millions of years of mammalian evolution. All intent on making sure that you survive during famine and engorge during feast. Unfortunately, in the U.S. it is feast all year long. And with the plethora of high-fat, easily acquired food, our biology drives us to stack it on. Even if you're a vegan, you still can succumb to the same drive to survive, it just takes a little more work.
Where does this leave us? Well, it's not an easy road, but the trick that works is being aware of your caloric intake and exercising. You just really can't overestimate how many calories you are burning because then the balance is back out of whack. You see why it's so hard to lose weight?
So for this week, I want you to be aware of how much you eat. If you're up for it, write down what you eat and calculate out how many calories you are consuming. There are a lot of calorie calculators out there to help you out. If you want to be real honest with yourself, spend some time actually measuring and weighing your food with a kitchen scale if you have one, because it's real easy to over or under-estimate.
As for exercise, it's a little harder to discern how many calories you are burning. If you work out at a gym, do not trust the calorie calculators on the machines. The best way of calculating calories burned is based on your weight, exertion level and exercise type. I can't attest to the accuracy on the online calculators, but there are dozens out there that you can try. If you don't exercise at all, this task is an easy one. For now.
Based on the information you collect this week, you'll have almost all the numbers you need for how to go from here. Just be patient with yourself. I'm not advocating a lose weight quick scheme here, but a lifelong change.