Tired of looking in the mirror and hating the body staring back at you?  Well, it’s time to do something about it.  Put down the junk food, stop the excuses and let’s get to work.

Set your goals

How much weight do you want to lose?  Write down your weight loss goal and how you plan to get there.  Don’t be misled by weight-loss gimmicks promising overnight results.  Studies show that people who lose 1-2 pounds a week are more likely to keep the weight off.  Two pounds a week doesn’t sound like much but six months from now you’ll be 50 pounds lighter and less likely to fall into your old habits.

Download a calorie counting app

Losing weight is a math game.  Burn more calories than you consume and you’ll lose weight.  Eat more calories than you burn and you’ll find yourself packing on the pounds.  One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories.  So, if the plan is to lose 1-2 pounds a week, you’ll need to reduce your diet by 500-1000 calories a day.  Sounds complicated but calorie counting apps like MyFitnessPal do the hard work for you.  Simply search for a food item and add it to your diary.  The calories will already be listed for you and deducted from your daily goal.  Based on your entries, you can decide what needs to be done to stay on track.  Depending on how far off you are from your daily goal, you can eat lighter or exercise more.

Make better food choices

Once you start keeping a food diary, you may quickly notice that you need to make better food choices to hit your goal.  Let’s say your daily calorie goal is 1,500 calories and you typically have a Big Mac meal from McDonalds for lunch.  With medium fries and coke, that meal is costing you 1,090 calories.  That only leaves you 410 calories to split between breakfast and dinner which isn’t worth it.  Cutting out everything you love can feel like torture so start by making small changes to your diet.  One of the easiest changes you can make is swapping alcohol and sugary drinks for water instead.  Ideally, you want to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and flush out toxins.  We also recommend eating smaller portions and incorporating more fruits and greens into your diet.

Get moving

To maximize your weight loss efforts, you need to get moving.  The goal is to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, five times a week.  It also helps to strength train your major muscle groups at least twice a week.  Strength training not only improves bone density but it also boosts your metabolism so your body continues to burn calories long after your workout is over.  Sticking to the same workout routine can get boring quickly so don’t be afraid to try new things.  Groupon and Living Social both offer great deals on fitness classes such as kickboxing, cycling and yoga.  If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can sign up for an obstacle race like The Zombie Mud Run, Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash.

Rest

As much as you want to get quick results, it’s important to give your body a break so you don’t burnout.  Aside from occasionally going exercise-free, you also need to make sure you’re catching enough ZZZ’s.  Sleeping at least 7 hours a night can help you eat less, burn more calories and stay focused during the day.