Calories In vs. Calories Out
You gain fat when you eat more calories than you burn. Eating fewer calories and burning calories through exercise can help you lose weight. Even though rapid weight loss is often desired, aim for weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is a safe rate of weight loss and you're less likely to gain the weight back. To accomplish this, create a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories.
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, raises your heart rate and burns calories. At home, cardio can include jogging in place, jumping rope, walking up and down the stairs or exercising to a workout DVD. If available, use a stationary bike or treadmill. Work up a sweat, but maintain an intensity that still allows you to talk. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every week.
Strength training promotes weight loss, because the energy required to build and maintain muscle tissue increases your resting metabolic rate, so you burn more calories even when you're at rest. Instead of solely focusing on your legs and butt, take on a full-body workout to burn more calories. If you don't own a set of dumbbells or a resistance band, fill bottles with water or use soup cans. Additionally, use your own body weight for resistance. Always gradually increase the weights you use so you stay challenged. Try to perform strength training on two to three days of the week, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Targeted Strength-Training Exercises
To define your thighs and butt, perform squats, in which you lower your body as if to sit in a chair and then stand back up. You can hold liter water bottles in your hand while doing them to add weight, or you can make them even more challenging by performing single-leg squats, in which you lift one leg off the floor while squatting. Lunges also target this problem area. Incorporate sideways, forward and backward lunges. When doing lunges and squats, never let your knees go past your toes, contract your abdominals, look straight ahead and keep your back straight. Calf raises, in which you rise up on the balls of your feet and slowly lower back down, can help shape your calves. Work your way up to completing three sets of about 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Adjust Your Diet
To reduce the calories you eat, replace unhealthy fare with healthier foods. Skip dessert or eat a piece of fruit instead; use low-fat milk instead of full-fat milk; eat skinless chicken or turkey instead of fatty pork; snack on fruits and vegetables instead of chips. If you have an uncontrollable craving for unhealthy food, eat only a small portion so you don't feel deprived. Read food labels to determine nutritional values and to help you keep track of the calories you eat.