How Long Will It Take to Lose the Pounds I Want to Lose?
No matter what you hear out there from websites, infomercials, friends and magazines; weight loss is all about calories consumed versus energy used. Calories are the unit of energy in the equation. One pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. When you burn 3500 calories that you did not take in, you will lose one pound a week.
For most people, cutting 500 calories from their diet each day is simpler than it seems. Once you begin counting calories accurately, you will realize how many you truly take in within a day and see that there is room for easy improvement. Cutting out one sugary soda a day can reduce between 90-180 calories and cutting out nibbling or snacking can save a few hundred. You will most likely not even miss these additional calories and won't notice they are gone once you get in the habit. If you can cut out 500 calories a day, without exercise, you will lose one pound every seven days, since 500 times 7 equals 3500 calories. That's without exercise at all! Just simple dietary changes can help you lose weight.
Add exercise to the equation and you can lose even more each week, plus provide your body with the other benefits of exercise. Some of these benefits include better sleep, better concentration, better memory, and improved circulatory function. Aerobic exercise is best for weight loss in the early stages and it helps improve heart health. Once you determine the type of exercise you like the best, set up a plan and a regimen and stick with it. You may prefer walking, jogging, biking, running, or even swimming. It really doesn't matter what you choose; the best exercise is one you enjoy and will stick with.
If you use a treadmill or stationary bike, most are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to keeping an accurate count of calories burned. Calories burned are as much a function of an individual's body as they are the type of exercise. Bear in mind that the calorie counters are "average" and may be overstated a bit. So it's best to find an online resource such as http://walking.about.com to find out better estimates of calories burned. For example, a 170-pound person will burn about 90 calories per mile walked at 3 mph, but a 140-pound person only burns about 75 calories for the same speed and distance. So you can see that a calorie counter on the treadmill would have some disparity since most treadmills don't have built in scales!
Continuing with the above example, for a 3.5-mile walk, a 170 pound person would burn about 300 calories. If they could do this activity four days a week, that's a total of 1200 additional calories. Six days a week would burn 1800 calories, or another half a pound. Starting off slow and at a moderate pace will allow the body to get used to the activity and you'll probably not feel tired or have achy muscles. After about two weeks, you can turn up the pace a bit. You may walk faster, farther or more often. A reasonable goal is to work yourself up to a moderate intensity most days of the week. This means for four or five days a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. Using the walking example, it would not be unreasonable to walk three to four miles a day at a 3.5 mph pace. Your workout would last about 45 minutes to an hour and you would reasonably burn around 350 calories each day. In five days, you would be burning the equivalent of half a pound. Combine this with the calorie cuts, and you're on your way to a safe, easy, and healthy weight loss of one to two pounds a week.
Remember to consult with your health care professional before beginning any diet or exercise program. Using the 3500 calorie per pound guideline, and researching the exercise you prefer, you can easily calculate how long it will take you to lose a specific amount of weight.