Diet & Fitness

5 tips to get started on the 'Drop a Dress Size' plan

April 22, 2014 at 10:27 AM ET

Video: TODAY health and diet editor Madelyn Fernstrom wants to help you drop a dress size by making smarter decisions when it comes to vice foods. She says you should choose peanut butter cups over caramel nut bars and mini egg rolls rather than mini pepperoni pizza bagels.


The winter months often lead to some extra pounds. Whether you can barely zip up your favorite summer dress or need to let your belt out a notch or two, now is the time to regroup, renew, and refresh your lifestyle to feel and look your best.

Our "Drop a Dress Size" series will support your positive health habits and provide strategies to identify and breakdown your barriers to successful weight control. 

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Calories do count: Monitoring calories you eat and calories you work off through activity is the basis for all balanced plans. The most important first step: If you bite it, write it down! Pick the method that works best for you. Whether it’s pencil and paper, a smartphone app or a computer spreadsheet. You are now accountable to yourself!

Cut back on daily calorie intake: If you cut around 500 calories every day, you’ll lose about one pound a week (4 pounds per month). If you trim around 250 calories a day, you’ll drop around half a pound per week (2 pounds per month). So do the math to figure out the best plan for you. 

Most people find success by eating about 1400-1600 calories per day and walking for 30-40 minutes daily. A lot depends on your age, amount of weight to lose and level of physical activity. Size yourself up and ask your doctor if needed. There are dozens of plans that are balanced and effective, so look around for one that connects with you.

Change your behavior: Most of the heavy lifting with weight control is behavior, not biology. Maintaining mental focus over time is the toughest task for long-term weight management. And it’s not easy.

I’ll be sharing my 12 Fernstrom Fundamentals (adapted from my book “The Real You Diet”) throughout this series to help you build a behavioral foundation for long-term successful weight management that work with any eating and activity plan. Here are the first two:

1. Think before you eat
It doesn't mean “don’t eat;" it means make a better choice.

2. Learn to barter
Use food exchanging to avoid deprivation. Want that glass of wine at dinner? Pre-plan, use those 150 calories for a glass and skip dessert or a starchy side dish.

TOP