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Planning A Weight Loss Journey This Year? Here’s How To Get Started Safely

New year, new you: it’s always a tempting idea. You emerge from the excesses of Christmas feeling bloated and tired and resolve to shape up when January rolls around. Spring is on the horizon, after all, and you want to be ready to embrace the warmer weather. But the best intentions in the world can easily go horribly wrong.

We all know what tends to happen. You make a resolution, hit the gym hard for a week (if that), then flame out. Your ankle hurts because you got too active, so you think maybe you’ll rest it for a few days before you return to the gym… but you never go back. You forget about it, and soon enough you forget about the entire resolution.

But that doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea now. You can still turn that eagerness into meaningful long-term change — you just need to be sensible about how you start shedding the pounds, so it becomes something you can keep up. Here’s how to make a safe start:

Stick with low-impact exercises

When you get really gung-ho about fixing up your fitness, you can easily check out available fitness classes and decide that something you’ve never tried before but looks intense (kickboxing, for instance) is the perfect option for getting in shape quickly. And that has some truth to it, but the problem with taking that route is that you’ll probably injure yourself.

Since your muscles (and system in general) won’t be used to enduring that type of consistent punishment, you’ll have a really tough time to begin with, and suffer enough discomfort that you might well choose to quit entirely. That’s exactly what you want to avoid. Weight loss isn’t about fast but unsustainable results (as we’ll see in the next point).

So what types of exercise should you do? Well, go for anything that doesn’t place too much stress on your bones and tendons, and doesn’t place unreasonable demands on your winter-weakened muscles, but does give you a good cardiovascular workout. You can try something like intense yoga (it’s also great for flexibility), but the best tool in your arsenal, believe it or not, is simply walking. Work in regular long walks, keep the speed up without hitting the point of jogging (dangerous for your knees), and you’ll start making progress.

Aim for gradual progress

Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your new waist measurement be. Can you lose a lot of weight very quickly? Yes, but it’s dangerous, and it’ll produce poor results that don’t last anyway (you’ll almost-certainly binge the weight back on in no time). If you want to be looking your best self a year from now, you need to make fundamental changes to your habits, making a routine out of making sensible choices.

Don’t give up your favorite foods cold turkey if you can’t endure it: just cut back however much you can, and aim to cut back more later. That way, you’ll have time to get used to the changes, and you’ll find that it all gets easier as you go. Within a few months, you might find that those old cravings are completely gone — whereas trying to give them all up overnight will just bring them back even stronger within days.

Forget about the fad diets

Eat nothing but meat for 14 days and lose 10 pounds of fat. Just give up dairy products and lose an inch off your stomach within 10 days. We’ve all seen these fad diet plans that make ludicrous promises about what we can achieve if we just stop eating this and start eating that instead, and they tend to do more harm than good.

If you’re really struggling with simply cutting back on the calories, look for different ways to make it easier. Get smaller plates so it looks like you have more food. Get more exercise and sleep to reduce your appetite. And if it’s starting to feel impossible (and you have a BMI of over 28), then you can always think about weight-loss supplements: if you consult and buy from a pharmacy such as The Independent Pharmacy, you’ll be completely safe.

Now sure, eating nothing but meat might help you drop some weight — particularly if meat doesn’t make up a big part of your diet — but it isn’t healthy, and it isn’t sustainable. It’s also not cheap. So give up the fad diets and the gimmicks, and make basic, simple, sensible changes to what you eat: consume less sugar and more fiber, for instance. That way, you might be able to keep the weight you lose from coming back on, and you’ll be healthier too.