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How to Set Reasonable Fitness Goals

OK, so you're exercising and watching your diet now. You want to lose weight, buff up, and generally get to feeling better about yourself. How long should it take before you can expect to see some progress?

Most experts in the fitness and exercise field believe that you won't be able to see significant progress for up to 12 weeks. The moral is: Don't get discouraged if you don't see things happening right away. You have to give your body time to adjust itself to your new regimen of exercise and diet. It doesn't happen all at once!

Overblown expectations can be poison to an otherwise good plan. The commercial Diet Industry would have us all believe that you can lose all the weight you want in a minimum of time, and keep it off with some near- magical set of special foods or pills. Forget it. It just doesn't happen that way. Some of those diets will, in fact, knock off some pounds. Some of them have testimonials from people who lost a lot of weight. Few to none of them have long-term results without placing their followers on a plan.

The most intelligent approach is to simply eat reasonably and sensibly, and to exercise. First, you have to find out what's reasonable for you. That's going to depend on several factors, but your current level of fitness is high on the list.
Your present fitness level will, in large part, dictate just how rapidly you'll be able to burn fat, as your metabolism is directly related to general fitness. The more fit you are, the more fat you can burn in a given amount of time, whether exercising or not!

Next, you'll have to determine about how many calories you might burn in an average day; your basal metabolism rate, or BMR. If you just want an easy guideline, here's a simple formula -- (exact measurement of BMR requires some pretty sophisticated facilities, indeed!!) --
Adult males: Weight in pounds X 12
Adult females: Weight in pounds X 11
For every 10 years older than 20, you should lower the result by 2%. Examples:
180-lb man, 180 X 12 = 2160 calories per day at age 20-30
120-lb woman, 120 X 11 = 1320 calories per day at age 20-30
(Deutsch, 1980)

Another, more recent calculation used for determining the actual components of a diet assumes that you are exercising regularly. It is the same for both men and women. All quantities are in grams per pound of body weight: 1.8 carbohydrate, 0.7 protein, 0.3 fat.

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