Week 2

Calories in and out

In week 2 we will look at your energy balance. This is the energy you take in through calories in food and drink, and the energy you use when being physically active.

Welcome back to week 2 of our 12 Week Weight Management Programme. Taking the decision to continue is a huge step towards meeting your long-term wellbeing target.

Weekly check-in

How did you get on last week? Did you decide how you'll get support on your journey?

Check your progress

Did you achieve the goals you set yourself last week?

Energy balance

To be able to better manage your weight you need to look at your own energy balance.

You measure energy in by the calories you consume by eating and drinking. Sometimes you'll see calories written as kcals or cals in food labels and recipes.

You measure energy out by the amount of physical activity you are doing. Balancing both of these will help you plan and start to manage your weight.

Making changes

To lose weight you'll need to decrease your calorie intake and increase your level of physical activity. Don’t panic. We'll be looking at making small, steady changes over the next 11 weeks.

Everyone's energy balance and the number of calories needed to lose weight is different, but, as a guide:

  • the average woman needs to take in around 1,400 calories per day
  • the average man needs to take in around 1,900 calories per day

As you go through the programme you'll be able to adjust this figure to suit you. We're not suggesting that everyone counts calories but many people do find this helpful.

Food and drink

Have a look at your lifestyle diary, App or photos from last week. Are there foods that are high in sugar or fat that you can start to cut out or reduce? For example swap a packet of crisps for a piece of fruit or have boiled potatoes instead of chips. Find out more about food swap ideas from Food Standards Scotland.

Meal planning

This is a good time to start thinking about cooking meals with fresh food. This can help with reducing your calorie intake.

We'll return to planning and cooking fresh meals in week 7 but for now have a look at and try out some of the recipes from Lets Get Cooking and Parent Club. Diabetes UK also have some ideas and suggestions for planning meals on a budget.

Portion sizes

It's important to look at how much you're eating. Many people are taking in more calories than they need due to the size of the portions they're eating and drinking.

The amount you put onto your plate normally depends on:

  • the portion size you're used to
  • how hungry you are
  • how much is offered as a portion at a restaurant
  • how much is in a packet or ready meal.

The most difficult foods to get the portion size right are pasta, rice and other grains that usually come in larger packets and not portioned out. These also expand when cooking so food that looks small in a pan can be more than you think.

Eat less, have a balanced diet and buy a smaller plate

Handy measurements

A good guide to choosing the ideal portion sizes is by using your hands as a measurement. The recommended portion sizes are:

  • the palm of your hand: protein foods, like meat, fish, chicken, eggs, vegetarian/vegan main course options
  • a small matchbox - cheese
  • the size of your fist: carbohydrate (also known as carbs and starch) foods, like bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, cereals (use a small loaf of bread)
  • the amount you can hold in your hand: fruit
  • as much as you can eat: vegetables

Take a few moments to consider your portion sizes. Do you feel that as part of reducing your total calorie intake you could reduce these? If so, can you start working on reducing your portions this week?

You can find out more about portion sizes through the British Dietetic Association.


It's important to aim to drink about 2 litres of fluid per day. Remember, the only fluid with no calories is water. You could try drinking a glass of water at each meal to help fill you up.

Some people have found it helpful to try to fill themselves up with foods that are low in calories to stop them feeling hungry. This could be something you try.

Physical activity

When managing your weight, it's important to increase the amount of calories (energy) that you are using up daily in physical activity.

If you're unsure how much physical activity you're currently doing then try out the activity calculator.

Choosing new activities

There are a wide range of physical activities you could do. This doesn't mean having to go to a gym or buying any special clothes or equipment.

Take a few minutes to think about a time in the past when you did a physical activity that you enjoyed. Could this be something that you could revisit now? Is there a type of physical activity that you have always wanted to try but never did?

If you've not been doing much or any physical activity there are some suggestions to get you started.

Group activities

Is there someone else, a friend or family member, that you could be more physically active with such as:

  • meeting a friend for a dog walk
  • join a class with a friend (e.g. walking, yoga, walking football)
  • make new friends through a walking group

Slow and steady wins the race

Barriers to physical activities

We'll talk about physical activity in more depth in week 6. Before we move on today, some people see doing physical activity as challenging. If you're feeling like that, have a look at how you can break through those barriers.

If you have any concerns over your health and taking any form of physical activity then please speak to your health professional or healthcare provider before starting.

Remember, it's always best to increase your level of physical activity gradually.

Reviewing your target

In week 1 we asked you to think about and write down your long-term wellbeing target. Look back at what that was, it's important to keep that target in your head to keep you going through this programme.

What is it that matters to you and gives your life meaning and purpose? The answer to this question will help you identify your values. You are more likely to achieve targets that reflect your values.

Weekly goals

Short-term goals can help you focus on the changes you've decided to make. People who write down their goals are more likely to stick to them. 

When we set our minds to change our routine or part of our daily habits, our goal must be realistic. For example, never eating chocolate again isn't realistic but swapping a bar of chocolate for a piece of fruit 3 days over the week is achievable. Set yourself small, realistic, achievable goals.

Each week you'll have the chance to set goals for change over the next 7 days. These goals are your steps along the way to reaching your long term target.

Setting your goals

When setting your weekly goals you should:

  • decide which day next week you will be coming back to this programme, this will be the day you can review your goals
  • consider the areas for change we have discussed this week
  • look at your lifestyle diary/journal/app/photos and choose areas where you feel you could make a small change over the next week
  • ask yourself what you can do more of, what you can do less of and what would help you me make these changes

If you don’t meet your goals every day, that’s ok. It’s important to keep returning to what you've written down. We’ll review them next week.

Your can use our goal-setting tool to record your goals for the week, or print out our blank weekly journal (PDF, 42KB) to fill in yourself.

Goals for week 2

Set goals for the week ahead, for example eat a piece of fruit at work instead of my morning biscuits and go for a 30 minute walk on 3 different days.

All fields have a maximum character limit of 140.

For next week

During this week you should:

  • consider which of your current routines and habits you feel ready to change and set 1 or 2 realistic goals for this week
  • continue to monitor your goals by keeping your lifestyle diary, App or photos updated
  • find out information about local physical activity sessions, for example, walking groups, walking football or swimming)
  • ask your friends if they'd be interested in doing some physical activity with you, such as walking in the park, as this makes it easier for you to stick to it

Last updated:
21 May 2020