"No matter how bad off you are when you start, you can still be successful," says Dawn Sabourin, 50. "Don't look at how far you have to go because you will become overwhelmed and quit." And playing the long game can help you feel more in control. "Accept where you are starting and take one step at a time in the right direction. They will build, as will your confidence and success." (Next up: 10 Trainers Share What They Wish They Could Tell Their Younger Selves About Fitness)
How much of a deficit? A 500 calorie a day deficit is sustainable for some while leaning down, but any deficit will do. A 1000 calorie a day deficit is aggressive and difficult to maintain. No matter what, don’t drop your calories below 1000 per day, even if you think it will lead to faster weight loss. You’ll be losing muscle at that point, and sacrificing your health and sanity. Not worth it.
Mindfulness matters. “If you slow down and stop just mindless eating, you often realize you don’t need to eat as much as you thought you did; you’re already full,” said Dr. Steinbaum.” Part of this is watching portion sizes, which have ballooned in restaurants over the past 40 years, leading adults to consume an average of 300 more calories per day now than they did in 1985. Did you know that one serving of bread is actually just one slice? Or one serving of pasta or rice is just half a cup? And a serving of cheese is only two ounces, or the size of a domino? You’re probably eating much more than you realized. “There have been multiple studies that see keeping a food journal is effective,” said Dr. Steinbaum. “When you start paying attention, you can really see what you’re doing.”