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Overall, women have a higher percentage of body fat than men do. But when your body fat exceeds a healthy range, it increases your risk of obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Knowing your Body Mass Index (weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared, multiplied by 703) can help you work toward a healthy BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. Lower your body fat with a combination of diet and increased physical activity.
Set realistic goals to help you reduce body fat. The University of New Mexico asserts that goal-setting is an important behavioral technique that helps women successfully lose fat and weight. Talk to your doctor and plan short-term goals achievable within a week to a month, as well as long-term goals for six months to a year if needed. Evaluate your goals regularly and update them as needed to help yourself achieve them.
Reduce your daily caloric intake for safe and healthy weight loss. A reduction of 500 calories per day translates to a loss of 1 pound per week. Consume no fewer than 1,200 calories per day, as suggested by the University of Washington; you might need fewer calories than men because they have greater muscle mass. Eat fresh produce, lean meat, whole grains and low-fat dairy products instead of foods laden with sugar or trans fats, or fast food. Eat several small meals throughout the day to avoid becoming hungry, which often leads to overeating.
Exercise daily at a moderate to intensity for 30 to 60 minutes. Engage in moderate forms of exercise, such as walking, swimming or jogging, or more intense forms such as running, cycling or interval training. Do moderate exercise for approximately 60 minutes to burn 500 calories or intense exercise for about 30 minutes to achieve the same calorie burn. Doing so every day translates to another pound lost each week.
Overcome common barriers many women face regarding exercise, such as lack of time, money and a supportive exercise partner, by scheduling a walk or bicycle ride or jogging three or four times a week with a friend or neighbor. Treat these times as you would any other important appointment. Do your workouts together in the neighborhood or at the local high school track, or take turns exercising at your houses.
Strengthen and tone your muscles to help your body burn calories more efficiently so you can lose more fat. Use dumbbells for weight-bearing exercises or do calisthenics two to three times weekly for 15 to 20 minutes each session to build and tone your muscles. Build muscle, which makes up about one-third of an average size woman's weight, to raise your metabolism and help you burn fat and lose weight more efficiently.
Involve yourself in counseling or a weight loss support group to address any emotional or behavioral issues that have a direct effect on your eating. Learning more about these issues can help you make healthy lifestyle changes that result in fat loss.
- Lose weight slowly and safely, at a rate of approximately 1 to 2 pounds per week, to keep it off in the long run. Set attainable goals to prevent diet failure.
- Always consult your doctor before starting on a weight loss or fitness plan.