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3. Dine In and Reduce Calories

Restaurant meals are often loaded with fat, salt, and calories. When the Center for Science in the Public Interest analyzed entrees from leading nationwide restaurant chains, the results were shocking. Some entrees contained almost as many calories as most of us should get in an entire day. If you go out for lunch or dinner, divide oversized portions in half before you start the meal and take home the rest.

Better still; get in the habit of cooking and eating at home. Most of the National Weight Loss Registry participants who have kept weight off do a lot of cooking at home. It’s easy to understand why. “When you cook at home, you control exactly what and how much you eat,” says Carpenter.

4. Exercise for Weight Loss

Cutting back on the calories you eat is half of the weight loss equation. The other half is expending calories through physical activity. “Studies show that exercise is particularly important for keeping weight off,” says Kimberly Topp, PhD, professor and chair of the department of physical therapy and rehabilitation services at the University of California, San Francisco.

Exercise poses challenges for people with arthritis, of course. Bad knees, especially, can make many activities painful. “Anything that puts strain on joints, like running, can worsen arthritis,” says Topp. “Still, there are many activities that even people with osteoarthritis of the knees can do.” Among them: swimming, water aerobics, walking, and light resistance exercises. “In the end, the only kind of exercise that’s bad for people with arthritis is no exercise,” says chronic disease specialist Kate Lorig, RN, DrPH, professor emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine and author of The Arthritis Helpbook.

5. Find a Weight Loss Buddy

Enrolling in a weight loss program helps some people lose weight. But even if you don’t want to sign on for an organized program, it’s worth putting together your own informal support group.

“Many studies show that social support is a crucial factor for success in any kind of lifestyle change, including dieting and physical activity,” says Fontaine. Chances are you have friends and colleagues who would like to join you in losing a few pounds. Talk to them about setting a goal together and encouraging each other.

6. Stay Motivated to Lose Weight

To stay motivated, it’s important to reward yourself along the way. Treat yourself to something special when you hit your short-term goals. And be aware of the less concrete rewards that you’re getting by losing weight. Notice the way you feel. Monitor pain levels in your knees. Chances are you’ll begin to feel less pain over time. For many people with arthritis, that’s reward enough.

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