Suspect you have a sluggish metabolism? You might have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, which afflicts about 25 percent of American women — many of whom don't know they have the condition, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. "The thyroid gland controls your body's metabolism, so one of the first signs that it may be off is an inability to lose weight," explains Pamela Peeke, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fight Fat After Forty. Your doctor can determine if you're suffering from hypothyroidism by running a blood test. If you do have an underactive thyroid, you'll be treated with a synthetic thyroid supplement, which you will need to take for the rest of your life (it will return your metabolism to normal, so it should be easier to drop unwanted pounds).
At the same time, wearing clothes you can actually move in (read: not stilettos and a tiny pencil skirt) to work might help keep you active during the day instead of parked at your desk. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that people took an average of eight percent more steps on days that they wore jeans instead of conventional business clothes. You officially have a health excuse to ask for casual Friday every day.
When you've finally reached your goal and size, it can be tempting to throw your scale at the garbage and never look at it again. That scale, however, is essential to keeping excess body mass off once you've gone through all the hard work to lose it. While maintaining your weight, you need to be aware of how much you actually weigh. Pick a day of the week and weigh yourself every morning on that day. Write it down. This way, you're aware if you've gained any back and can curb it before it snowballs into anything serious.
A sedentary activity means little or no exercise in your daily routine. A person living a sedentary lifestyle is often sitting or lying down while engaged in an activity like working at a desk, reading, watching television and more. If this sounds like you and you get little to no exercises in your typical day, then select sedentary in the weight loss calculator.
“Your body begins to work differently. This study proves that small amounts of nourishment throughout the day are better than the same amount of food concentrated in three big sittings. If we feed the body at regular intervals we send a signal to the body that it doesn’t have to store calories. Conversely, when we skip meals we send just the opposite signal for the body to store calories, creating a negative effect on the metabolism.” — Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, co-founder and Medical Director at Take Shape For Life
When you complete the calorie calculator process, you'll get a daily calorie goal. This is the number of calories you should eat each day to reach your desired weight in the time frame that you set. If you are trying to gain weight, your daily calorie goal will include a calorie surplus. But if weight loss is your goal, a calorie deficit is factored into your final number.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL