1. Accurately Calculate & Track Your Macros
Calories are a unit of measuring energy. Gaining body fat is simply what happens when your body receives more calories, or energy, than it needs. That excess energy gets stored on your body in the form of fat, waiting to be used. One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories. So ideally, if you cut 500 calories out of your diet every day for 7 days straight, you'll burn one pound of body fat.
Make sure you're eating enough protein, I cannot stress this enough. A high protein diet works to your advantage in three ways. First, protein is more satiating, which means it will keep you fuller longer. Second, protein requires more energy for your body to metabolize. Therefore, your body burns more calories just in digesting protein. Last, protein is the main building block of your muscle. You want to retain your muscle mass while losing body fat to achieve a more lean physique. Also, the more muscle you retain, the more calories your body naturally burns before exercise. So maintaining your muscle can help you maintain your weight within reason.
2. Use a Macro Tracker Like My Macro+ Diet Tracker ($3)
Use my macronutrient calculator to calculate your caloric and macro needs. Input those goals into the tacker, then consistently and accurately track your food intake for the week. I've said before and it remains true that eyeballing food amounts is the quickest way to not get results. Investing the time in weighing your foods on a digital food scale could be the difference between your success or frustration.
Get your heart rate up for at least 20 straight minutes every day. This can be your favorite recreational activity or any form of exercise. The point is to help you create a caloric deficit that will cause your body to need more energy and go to your body fat to get it. You can monitor your heart rate and calories burned with a heart rate monitor. However, be mindful of which one you choose, as wrist worn monitors like Fitbit have been shown to track calories inaccurately.
4. Stay Hydrated
The average woman should aim to drink a half a gallon of water every day. However water needs increase with the level of activity and temperature, so make a goal to drink at least that much. This goal may seem daunting at first but you can have fun with your water until it becomes a new great habit. For instance, adding water flavor to your water adds some variety for your taste buds. Or these cool fruit infusion water bottles allow you to chop up fruit and add them to your water on the go. You can also add foods into your diet that have a high water content like watermelon, cucumber, celery, and carrots. Download a free app like Waterlogged on iOS and it will help you track your water intake throughout the day towards your goal. You can have fun challenging yourself to hit your water intake goal at different times throughout the day.
5. Set Realistic Expectations
Despite how much weight your scale reading says you lost after a week, only a small portion of it will be body fat. The remaining weight loss will be water weight. As you find yourself eating more protein and drinking more water, you will lose water weight which will cause the scale to go down. However, losing actual fat is more difficult and you should aim to lose no more than one pound per week. The one pound of fat that you're about to lose will be too negligent to see visually but the water weight decrease may present visual changes. Either way, take that victory as a sign you can continue and achieve your weight loss goal. Consistency and accuracy will be your greatest allies.