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Weight loss commands a lot of attention and the efforts of millions of people. With the immense amount of information available about how to lose weight – some of it gimmicky, contradictory or unhealthy – it can be unclear how to identify the best plan. Although many people lose weight, they are unable to keep it off long-term.

How, then, can you lose weight and maintain it successfully? You lose weight when you consume fewer calories than you expend, which is tough for many of us with sedentary jobs and an abundance of high-fat, high-sugar foods and beverages. If you burn about 2000 calories daily, you must consistently eat less than this amount to stimulate weight loss.

Because one pound equals 3500 calories, you have to create a 3500-calorie deficit to lose one pound. This can be accomplished by aiming for a 500-calorie reduction each day, which results in a decrease of 3500 calories in seven days, or a loss of about one pound each week. For some, decreasing intake by 500 calories per day may be difficult to sustain; therefore, you can aim to cut daily intake by 250 calories and increase expenditure by burning 250 more calories per day through activity.

Here we’ve compiled some sound recommendations of how to lose weight, which is a simple formula but a challenging lifestyle change.

  1. Start with the facts: Weigh yourself first, and ask your doctor or a dietitian or weight loss professional what an ideal weight is for your height. These experts also can estimate your metabolic rate so you understand how many calories you burn daily.
  2. Check out diet plans: While you don’t necessarily need to follow a set plan, it does help eliminate some of the guesswork and choice in terms of what to eat and portion sizes. And you don’t need to spend a ton of money – resources like Weight Watchers are economical and practical for many people.
  3. Set a realistic goal: This may seem obvious, but establish a specific goal to work toward, such as losing 20 pounds or fitting into last year’s jeans. Be realistic, as healthy weight loss takes time and consistent effort. That doesn’t mean you can’t lose 100 pounds, but it may take more than one year. Aim to lose about one-two pounds per week; although it may seem slow, weight lost faster than this typically is regained.
  4. Follow a healthy, low-calorie diet: This means reducing or eliminating high-fat, high-sugar and highly processed foods, and replacing them with lean meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products. Decrease consumption of alcohol, juice, soda and caloric specialty coffee drinks, and choose water or tea instead.
  5. Exercise regularly: Burn more calories with more movement – including formal exercise sessions and greater activity throughout each day. Do cardiovascular exercise – including interval training – 3-6 days per week for at least 30-60 minutes. Strength train with weights 2-4 times weekly to create greater muscle mass, which increases your metabolism so you burn more calories daily. Go for walks, do calisthenics when watching TV, stand more and take the stairs.
  6. Celebrate successes: Don’t wait until you hit your final goal, but treat yourself to a new workout outfit, a massage or a sporting event when you get to a milestone of your choosing. This can boost your motivation.
  7. Don’t give up: Everyone has setbacks with their diet or misses a workout. Acknowledge this and immediately get back on your plan. Don’t quit, but push through plateaus and maintain resolve. While it may not be easy, weight loss is definitely worth it!