By Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D. , December 18, 2013 - 11:47am
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Ready to lose weight this year? You’ve come to the right place. Our 28-Day Weight- Loss Challenge will give you all the tools, information and recipes you need to lose weight and keep it off for good. As part of the challenge, you’ll get actionable tips to help you lose weight. Plus, our editors will offer inspiration, delicious recipes and expert advice to help you slim down.
Today’s Editor’s Tip:
Lisa D’Agrosa, M.S., R.D., Associate Nutrition Editor
“I put my events for the year—like weddings and vacations—in the calendar. Looking and feeling good at each event becomes a mini-goal for me, and seeing them there helps me picture the dresses and bathing suits I'll be wearing and motivates me to eat better (i.e., snacking on fresh fruits and veggies instead of chips). Plus, meeting my mini-goals for each event helps me feel accomplished and on-track, so I don’t lose motivation.”
Actionable Tip: Today is a big first day. Set your weight-loss goals, calculate your calorie level and make a grocery list so you can stock your home with healthy food.
How to Get Started
Calculate your daily calorie level: Weight loss essentially comes down to calories in vs. calories out—and out has to be greater than in for pounds to come off. Our meal-plan wizard will do the calculation for you and help you pick a meal plan that’s right for you. Or, to find out how many calories you should be aiming to eat each day, try this formula: [Your weight x 12] – 500 = Your daily calorie goal. Then follow one of our delicious meal plans to help you achieve your calorie goal. If you get a number that's less than 1,200 calories, make 1,200 your calorie goal; it's hard to get all the nutrients you need on fewer calories.
*For questions about the daily calorie calculation: This formula is used in many clinical weight-loss trials and assumes that the person using the equation is sedentary. If you're active and you feel that your result (say 1,200 calories) is too low, bump it up gradually to one that feels satisfying to you. The point is NOT to starve yourself. Most people will lose weight on a 1,500-calorie diet, some at an even higher caloric level. The best gauge for whether you're at the right level is how satisfied you feel (you shouldn't be hungry all day!) and whether you're losing weight. If you're losing weight on 1,800 calories a day and you feel great, stick with that. The calculation is just a suggested starting point.
Set your goals: Your class reunion, your niece’s wedding, that midwinter beach vacation: setting a goal that’s very specific (“I want to lose 8 pounds”), with a defined timeline (“in 3 months”), increases the likelihood you’ll actually meet it.
Our meal-plan wizard  can help you find a healthy weight-loss goal.
Make a healthy grocery list: Then go shopping to stock up on healthy foods for the week ahead. If you have the basic ingredients on hand to make a healthy meal—veggies, fruit, lean protein, healthy whole grains—you won’t be as likely to fall back on less-healthy convenience foods, snacks and takeout.