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Step 2: Learn to Set a Healthy Goal

In order to lose weight, we are going to use a principle that is very simple, but tough to understand for some reason for a lot of people:

To lose weight, burn more calories than you consume.

That's really all you need.  We'll talk more about this concept when we go into calorie counting.  For right now, you need to know what constitutes a healthy goal, short and long term.  Let's go through some figures you need to know.

BMI
In order to calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index), you will need to know your current weight.  Now might be a good time to buy a scale and put it in the bathroom.  This website will tell you your BMI and what category this places you in.  It will also tell you what the healthy weight range is for your height.  Many people will argue that using the BMI is not always an accurate way to find a healthy weight loss goal because the system is outdated.  However, I feel that if you take the healthy BMI range and put your goal somewhere in the middle, you can readjust when you make that primary goal.
Ex: I am 5'7" and I weigh 240 pounds.  Currently that puts me in the obese category.  My healthy weight range is between 118 and 159 pounds, so I choose to set a goal weight of 140 pounds initially. 

Daily Caloric Intake
Now you need to figure out how many calories to eat each day in order to get to your goal.  This website has a great calculator for this purpose.  If you put in your basic statistics, the calculator tells you exactly how many calories to eat per day during every week of your diet for the first year.  It will even adjust the amount of calories weekly based on your updated weight. 
If you are following my plan, you'll want to put in moderate on the activity level, unless you also have a very active occupation, such as a job that requires you to walk around and stand for most of the day.

There are some things you'll want to keep in mind when you make this goal:
-A healthy amount of weight to lose per week is about 2-5 pounds depending on your starting weight and current physical condition.  If you are planning on losing more per week, I highly recommend consulting a doctor regularly, especially if you currently have any medical conditions.
-A healthy amount of calories to eat per day for most people on a diet is 1200 calories or more.  If you put your goal into the calorie calculator and the calories per day numbers are below 1200 calories, you will want to lower your yearly goal so that you can safely lose less weight within the first year. 

Ex: I am 5'7" and 240 pounds.  My goal is a healthy weight of 140 pounds.  I put in the goal of losing 100 pounds in a year, but notice that this puts me under a healthy amount of calories per day toward the end of my plan.  I can either choose to lower my yearly goal on the calculator or go with the current plan with the intention of eating at least 1200 calories per day toward the end of the diet for a slightly slower result toward the end.  I will be losing around 2 pounds per week.  During the first week of the plan, I will want to eat 1762 calories per day.

If you're losing 100 pounds or more and trying to do it safely, expect to spend at least a year working toward your goal and likely more.
Remember to space muscle groups out so you give them a chance to heal between workouts, you list it like that up above I just wanted to elaborate. I've always been told a day is good enough. So working upper body m-w-f and lower body t-th-s so they are properly spaced. I generally lump the core workout in with the upper body since most of those muscles are above the waist with some leg lifts on lower body days.<br><br>If I'm remembering correctly you want to space the workouts because working the muscle causes little tears and ruptures in the muscle tissue and it takes a day to heal itself. Which if you are eating enough protein will result in increased muscle mass. Again this is all if I'm remembering correctly as it has been over a decade since I first learned this all.
<p>Yep, this is exactly right, you'll want to space your workouts by at least one day. Personally, I've had success with my weight loss using a light strength training routine moreso than anything else, but I encourage everyone to stick with what they prefer. The most important thing is to approach your weight loss as a combination of habits that promote an overall healthy LIFESTYLE. That's the basis of any truly effective weight loss strategy. In fact, check out the following article that does a wonderful job of explaining the key factors in a successful, long-term weight loss strategy: http://fatfreeme.net/big5</p>
<p>I didn't mean to imply that water's not good for you, or that drinking plenty of it is unimportant. My point--and the point of the study cited--is that there's no hard and fast rule of 8 glasses per day. &quot;If you are feeling thirsty then you are already dehydrated&quot; is exactly the author's point: Your body will tell you when you need water, and the &quot;eight glasses&quot; figure is purely arbitrary, originally based on rough estimates and blind guesses from the 1940s.</p><p><br>No offense, but one definitely should pay attention to studies. They're admittedly imperfect, and should be considered with a skeptical eye, but they're still far preferable to the &quot;everybody knows&quot; school of pseudoscience. <a href="http://247bestsellersreviews.com/news/85/2014-12-31-2" rel="nofollow"><strong>How to lose weight fast</strong></a></p>
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Many thanks for the clarification! I am curious, did you read Body for Life by Bill Phillips? This reminds me of that book. :-)
I had not though it sounds like an interesting read.
He talks a lot about the strategy you just mentioned and it is the one that I still use to this day despite not using his diet plan. His book is also where I learned a lot of the importance of protein to our diets and about nutritional balance at each meal.
One thing to keep in mind for those percentages on nutrition fact sheets; the percentages are based on whats called an 'upper limit' where as if you are trying to lose weight you should shoot for the 'lower limit'.<br><br>Using sodium as an example, the nutrition percentage is based on an intake of 2300mg daily, the upper limit for a healthy diet is around 2500mg and the lower limit is around 1200mg.<br><br>For things like fat and sodium it would be wise to shoot for the lower limit, and on the reverse fibre and protein are two things that you confidently fulfill you daily intake of.
Wonderful point. To be honest I was unaware of that, but certainly it's good to shoot for low fat and sodium! Those things can sabotage an otherwise sound strategy. Thanks!
One thing I've read for weight loss (in the book &quot;&quot;the four hour body&quot;, very good ideas in there.) is to measure inches as well. Measure your arms, thighs, and waist. Then add those 5 numbers up to get your total inches. Then maybe once a week, remeasure yourself so you can see how they have changed. Sometimes you lose inches instead of pounds, and people don't realize that. They just see their weight plateauing.<br><br>As for weighing yourself, do it the same time everyday. I've heard that the best time is in the morning, before you eat breakfast. I know I fluctuate about 2-3 pounds each day, so measuring weight at all different times would be confusing.
This is a great comment and I agree with everything in it. Well written!
This is awesome and congrats miss_ali! I just want to throw in a quick counter comment to ChrisLewis300, for him and everyone else. 8 glasses of water a day should be your minimum intake of water, and you shouldn't really count the water from the things you are eating, because, in the end, it's really negligible. As for things like coffee and tea, they do count towards that goal, but you have to keep in mind that those are a diuretic. This means that they cause your body to flush out more of the liquid by trips to the bathroom, so too much of those can actually counteract the process/count. If you're drinking less than 8 glasses of water a day, your body will hold onto as much water as possible, which causes &quot;water weight&quot; or bloating. So, at least 8 glasses of water a day, more glasses the more active you are. Unless you're insanely active and working in high heat conditions, don't exceed 2 gallons of water a day because then you have too much water in your system which could cause hyponatrima. Be sensible with your water intake and that won't be an issue. And my last point, liquifying your foods/water together doesn't actually stay in your system longer, keeping you full longer, this is completely opposite of the truth. When you liquify your food you've actually completed most of the digestion process pre-ingestion. Your stomach no longer needs to work as long to break down the food since you've done most of it's job for it, thus it will process out of your stomach quicker than eating a normal meal. On the other hand, if you chronically overeat, liquifying your meals can help your stomach shrink back to normal size so you can sense what true full is, sooner.
Its true that the &quot;you need 8 glasses of water a day&quot; is wrong. That's only half of what the study said which was that you need 8 glasses of water a day but you get most of that from the water in the food you eat, fruit, coffee, vegetables, meat, gravy.<br><br>However water does fill you up, and makes you feel full so there is no harm in drinking a few glasses extra.<br><br>It has also been shown that, if you drink a glass of water with your meal the water quickly exists your stomach, but if you liquidize your meal, along with the same water, your stomach must keep the food and water in longer to process it, which means your stomach is full longer so you feel full for longer.<br><br>Of course you can't be expected to liquidize everything, but you can eat dishes where the water is in the meal, hearty soups, casseroles etc.
Very well put! I've heard several diet plans talk about eating water-laden foods and it is very sensible. Many fruits and vegetables have a lot of water content and help you to feel full.
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