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4. Discover Weight Training.

Experts say one of the most important exercises for very overweight folks is weight training. It builds muscle that can help burn more calories. The best part: Many weight-training exercises can be done sitting down, making them ideal for those with a lot to lose.

"Sitting in a chair and lifting some soup cans, putting on ankle weights and just moving your feet back and forth, lifting your arms over your head and reaching towards the ceiling, all can help build and strengthen muscles, and again, get your body moving," says Goetze.

Finestein agrees: "The more weight you have to move with each movement, the less you have to do to see a reaction, so even small actions can make a big difference."

5. Don't Cut Calories Too Far.

That 1,200-calorie-a-day diet may be just what the doctor ordered for those who need to lose 20 or 30 pounds. But if you're trying to lose 100 pounds or more, you need more calories just to survive.

"The more you weigh, the higher your caloric needs," Finestein says, "so you can eat more than a person who weighs less, and still lose an equal amount of weight."

If you cut just 500 calories out of your diet every day, you could see a one-pound weight loss each week, she says.

6. Focus on How Far You've Come

6. Focus on How Far You've Come.

To stay motivated for the long haul, experts say, pay attention to how much you accomplish each day.

"Forget where you want to get to," says Finestein. "Realize how far you've come. Remember when you couldn't bend over to tie your shoes, or couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without puffing?" And, she says, never forget that for every pound you lose, your health improves.

"You might still be overweight, but you're definitely healthier," says Finestein.

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