This is the time of year that people begin to think about what they would like to do differently in the upcoming year. And typically the most common resolution is to lose weight. 80% of Americans could stand to lose at least 15 pounds so chances are that if you are reading this you could shed some weight this year. I still fit into this category as well even after losing 24 pounds over the past few months.

If you are thinking about shedding some weight in 2008 I want to give you some information that may help you achieve this goal.

1 pound equals about 3,600 calories. So, to lose one pound you will need to burn 3,600 calories more than what you take in. Sounds simple right?

Let me pose a question to you. A 194 pound male runs 1 mile. About how many calories did this man just burn? Would you guess 1,000 calories, 800 calories, or even 500 calories? If you guessed any of those you were mistaken. This man would have burned off about 126 calories running that one mile. Only 126. So, you can see that 3,600 number above is pretty large.

Now, don’t be discouraged. Remember if you have 15 pounds to lose you gained it over a long period of time, not just a few days. So losing weight will take time as well. You can’t expect instant results. You really need to understand this. To be successful you need to work at losing weight for more than just a couple of weeks. You need to be in this for the long haul. You need to have realistic expectations of how much weight you can lose within a given time frame. A lot of people join gyms right after January 1st and then drop off within just a few weeks because they don’t see those instant results. You need to go into this knowing that you will not see huge results overnight.

I have changed my lifestyle over the last couple months and am working out daily. I am losing about 2 pounds per week. I am not an expert, but I have certainly learned some solid fundamentals that I want to share with you.

To be losing two pounds per week this essentially means I am burning 7,200 calories more than what I am consuming each week. To do this you should not deprive your body of calories by not eating. If you do deprive yourself of food a few things will happen. 1.) You will burn muscle and not fat. You don’t want to lose muscle, that is good stuff. 2.) You won’t have the energy to actually workout well and 3.) Since you will be losing muscle you will burn fewer calories when you are not active.

To lose weight you need to eat. Those fad diets and starvation diets are not going to help you keep the weight off. They will make you weak and discourage you, and you will probably end 2008 bigger than you are now.You need to be more conscious of what you eat. I have been using a website called Gyminee.com to help me track what I eat for the past two months. It is very easy to eat far more calories than what your body needs. So how many calories does your body need? I used this calculator to figure out how many calories I should eat in a day.

Now I want to show you using some basic math how your activity level and calorie intake are related in the weight loss process.

Here are my essential numbers:

Calories to consume daily to maintain my current weight: 2,350 (based on this calculator)
Average calories I burn daily at the Gym: 700 (This is about an hour on the elliptical machine each day)
Average calories burned per week at the Gym: 4,900

If we do the math you can see that I should be losing over one pound per week. To achieve two pounds per week I have decreased my calorie goal per day to only 2,000 calories. Doing this gives me a 350 calorie deficit each day. ( I don’t recommend running far into a deficit, taking just a bit off is reasonable. Most people recommend a 2,000 calorie diet if you are trying to lose weight. ) I can now add this to the calories I am burning at the gym to see how much weight I should lose each week.

This gives me 7,350 calories burned each week that I have not taken in. And two pounds is 7,200 calories. The math matches the results I am seeing. So, this is one of those times that math is actually useful. Losing weight is simply applying some basic math to your life. More activity and fewer calories.

If I were not actively working out at the Gym I would need to dramatically change what and how much I eat. Literally to the point of depriving my body of what it needs. So, for me it seems clear. To lose weight you need to be more active. Because there are really only two essential variables at play when it comes to losing weight. They are: Calories Burned and Calories Consumed. I could go into more detail about types of calories, and whether they come from fat , carbohydrates, and all of that stuff. But for now I simply want to show you that essentially losing weight is about being more active and making sure you don’t eat too much.

You may be reading this and be thinking “There is no way I can do this.” 2 Pounds per week may be too high a goal for you. This is ok. In no way should you feel bad, you need to create realistic goals for yourself if you are going to be successful in 2008. You can always adjust your goals and try for 1 pound every two weeks or 1 pound every week. You need to begin 2008 with realistic goals. Remember there are 52 weeks in 2008, so even if you only lose 1/2 a pound per week you can lose 26 pounds this year by being more active and watching what you eat. But if your goal is to lose 26 pounds in 3 weeks and then go back to your ‘old ways’ you will fail, and likely end up gaining it all back plus some by the end of 2008. Losing weight takes time, and you need to take the time to do it or it simply won’t happen.

I hope this information is helpful for you and I wish you a successful 2008!

So what is my New Years Resolution? To keep going with my plan to get in shape and to communicate to as many people as I can about how simple it is to actually do this.