You know what you weigh now. Given an initial target weight, either from the tables above or from your own past (``I want to be able to fit into my old football uniform''), it's easy to plot the course of a diet to get from here to there.
A Excel worksheet for diet planning is supplied in the file FORECAST.XLS. When you load this worksheet you're presented with the following screen:
Enter your current weight and goal on the indicated lines. If you measure your weight in kilograms instead of pounds, enter 0 in the cell that shows ``Pounds'' to the right of the ``Initial weight''; for stones, enter -1 in this cell. You can then try various values in the ``Daily calorie deficit'' cell and observe the predicted length of the diet and completion date, assuming you started the diet today. Instructions for manually calculating the duration of a diet are given on page .
As you experiment with various calorie deficits, remember that a deficit of 500 calories a day translates to a loss of 52 pounds per year. If you're patient, you can lose all the weight you want to at that rate. Larger deficits peel the weight off faster but extract a greater price in hunger along the way. As the diet progresses you'll see the actual calorie shortfall based on the trend and compare it to the plan. Once you're into the diet and begin to observe a consistent calorie shortfall and weekly weight loss, you can revise the forecast based on the actual numbers you're observing, or adjust your meal plan to achieve the intended rate of reduction.