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The best and safest way to lose weight is to reduce your energy intake whilst increasing your energy output, i.e. eat less energy and burn off more energy such as through regular exercise.  It is the net energy intake (i.e. the energy consumed for the day minus the energy expended through physical activity and for body functions) that determines if we lose or gain weight.

Exercise regularly

The guidelines for general health improvement are to achieve 150 minutes a week at moderate intensity, which is equivalent to 30 minutes, 5 times a week. However if you intend to lose weight, the general guidelines is to increase your energy ouput to 250-300 minutes a week. If you have never exercised before, you may also wish to break them down into blocks of 10-15minutes, and gradually work your way upwards. Set realistic goals so that you are able to meet them rather than give up because you are unable to achieve it.

The ‘talk test’ is a good gauge of how you can monitor your intensity. To know if you are within the moderate intensity zone, you should be able to talk but unable to sing. You will also notice an increase in your heart rate and your breathing. You may wish to substitute other forms of aerobic exercises such as cycling, swimming, dancing etc, while making sure you are in the appropriate intensity zone. While aerobic exercises are important, resistance exercises should not be excluded from your routine. It is recommended to do resistance exercises at least twice a week on most major body parts (hips, legs, back, abdominals, shoulders, chest and arms), two to three sets of 8-12 repetitions each set. Resistance exercises will also build strength and prevent injuries.

If you lack motivation, try to find an exercise buddy or interest group that will help sustain your interests. Be adventurous and try new activities, give yourself time to adapt and learn something new - the sky is the limit. Having said that, you will also need to listen to your body and know your limits, if you experience pains, please stop your exercise and consult your physician.

In order to lose weight effectively, you will need to increase your energy expenditure by being more physically active through exercise or moving around more – walking a few bus stops home, taking the stairs, doing housework etc. Take gradual steps to eventually achieve 10,000 steps daily. At the same time, you will need to reduce your caloric intake by watching your portion sizes and eating healthily. If you are starting out, you may wish to make use of the many phone apps that are available to help keep track of your caloric intake and expenditure.

Always remember to keep yourself well-hydrated daily, especially if you are exercising - you will need to replenish fluids to ensure that you are not dehydrated. Your urine will provide you with an indication of how well hydrated you are, generally your urine should be clear or pale yellow. If the colour of your urine is dark yellow, you will need to increase your fluid consumption.

Get enough sleep - 6 to 8 hours a night

There are also other issues that contribute to weight gain such as stress and lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation results in a tendency of snacking more for a quick shot of energy to battle fatigue due to poor sleep. Having seven to eight hours of sleep can play a part in helping weight loss through the actions of hormones which regulate appetite. With enough sleep, you will have more energy to exercise and will be less likely to binge eat due to stress.

Avoid fad diets and over the counter remedies

One of the main reasons why many ladies are unable to lose weight is because, in an effort to lose weight fast, we often follow unrealistic diets that are simply not sustainable for the long term. There are many fad diets such as Detox diet, a very low calorie diet or a commercial diet that restricts so many food groups, you end up binging on the very foods you are not allowed to eat.

Using over-the-counter herbal teas, diet remedies and laxatives are also detrimental as it can lead to life-threatening effects such as high heart rate (tachycardia), palpitations and high blood pressure for certain diet pills and electrolyte imbalance and dehydration in laxative use.

Ref: R14