Laying out a structured plan for weight loss will ensure that you set yourself up for success. Lowering your body fat is a challenge. It requires discipline and consistency. But, it can be done if you follow certain steps.

First, let me share a quick reminder on how weight loss occurs. Whenever you burn a greater number of calories than you lose, you create a caloric deficit. Your body consistency requires fuel for the maintenance and function of all your major tissues and organs. Creating the caloric deficit requires that your body break down stored body fat so that it can convert it to usable fuel. To lose one pound of fat, you have to create a caloric deficit of 3,500. This deficit clearly needs to be created over time, but if you're aggressive in your efforts, you can lose a healthy rate of one to two pounds per week.

Your weight loss plan, therefore, needs to include steps that facilitate the creation of this caloric deficit. You must increase the number of calories than you burn everyday, while simultaneously decreasing the number of calories that you consume.

Ready? Follow these steps to ensure you successfully lower your body fat:

1. Acquire and set-up your weight loss notebook.

Get yourself a notebook, because it's important that you keep track of your progress and plan out your exercise schedule. It doesn't need to be fancy.

2. Determine your resting metabolic rate.

Your resting metabolic rate is the number of calories that you burn everyday. This is an important number to know, because it's going to be the foundation of which you base your eating and drinking decisions.

For men:

66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 X height in cm) - (6.8 X age in years) = daily metabolic rate

For women:

655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.7 X height in cm) - (4.7 X age in years) = daily metabolic rate

If you're not familiar with using the metric system, here's how you convert pounds to kilograms and inches to centimeters. Take your weight in pounds and divide that value by 2.2 to convert your weight into kilograms. To find your height in centimeters, determine your height in inches and then multiply that value by 2.54.

Write your metabolic rate on the front page of your notebook. Remember, to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than your personal metabolic rate.

3. Weigh yourself.

Some health professionals suggest that people don't weigh themselves when trying to lose weight because they're concerned with people becoming obsessed. As long as you don't weigh yourself too often, using a scale is an incredibly effective way at monitoring your progress.

Get yourself a scale and take your weight. Write this value on the front page of your notebook with the date. You're going to use this as your starting point.

4. Monitor your calorie intake and make necessary adjustments.

This is the most important step in the plan and yet the most difficult. In order to lower your body fat, you must take in fewer calories than your resting metabolic rate. It's going to take discipline and extra effort, but I'm going to ask you to monitor your calorie intake, at least initially as you get into the groove. You're going to likely find that you were previously making eating and drinking decisions that were not the most effective for losing weight.

You want to shoot for consuming 250 to 500 fewer calories than your daily metabolic rate. This equates to 1,750 to 3,500 calories per week. Thus, you'll lose a half to one pound per week. Make adjustments to your nutritional habits as necessary to keep that daily consumed number down. Trade fluids that contain calories for water. Decrease the size of your portions.

5. Schedule your workouts.

It's possible to lose weight with nutritional adjustments alone. That alone will create a caloric deficit. However, you can create an even bigger deficit, and thus lose weight more quickly, if you incorporate consistent exercise. Physical activity, as you know, effectively burns calories.

You want to get three to four workouts in per week. Each workout needs to be at least 30 minutes long, but ideally should be closer to 60 minutes. If you're a person who needs to schedule your workouts ahead of time, get your calendar and do so. Make time to fit in those three to four workouts a week. Understand that you don't need to complete the entire 30 to 60 minute session at once. You can break it up throughout the day, as long as each segment lasts 10 minutes. Studies have shown that more frequent, shorter workouts are still just as effective as completing one long session.

6. Weigh yourself again.

Every week on the same day, step back up onto the scale. Do it first thing in the morning to increase the accuracy of your recordings. Some weeks you may not see a change. Others, you'll be wowed at the results. Keep in mind that you want to average a loss of one to two pounds per week, though in the beginning it's not surprising to see more significant loss.