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Why Change Is Tough -- and What Helps

If you've tried to lose weight before, you know it's much easier said than done. It's not just about willpower, and the solutions go way beyond counting calories, fat grams, or carbs.

Think about it: What you eat and how active you are affects your whole day. You'll need to makeover the habits that go into your meals, snacks, and activities.

That's a huge commitment. Take it one small step at a time. You can build on successes. Don't try to do too much, too soon.

If you often eat for emotional reasons, you'll need to find other ways to handle the feelings that usually make you eat. Consider talking with a counselor. She can help you make those shifts in how you think, and how you relate to food and to your body.

Meanwhile, your body might resist your weight-loss efforts.

"If someone does lose 20 or 30 pounds, their metabolism goes down and they start to burn fewer calories," Tsai says. "Our bodies are designed to regain weight, so it's much easier to prevent obesity than to treat it."

Take the First Step

Even if you've been at your current weight for a long time, "if you're committed to getting healthier, there's almost certainly a treatment that can work," Wang says.

A great first step is to partner with your doctor. If he doesn't bring up the topic, make the first move and let him know that you want to work toward a healthier weight. Ask for advice, or for a referral to another doctor with more experience in this area. You might also want a referral to a nutritionist and a certified fitness trainer.

Before you start to make changes, write down everything you eat and drink for a few days. This can help you decide what you need to change about your diet.

Most people, at any weight, need to eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. They also need to cut out junk food and sugary drinks, Wang says.

Being active is also key. Any kind of movement helps, and you don't have to go to a gym. Ask your doctor what's OK for you to do. A certified personal trainer can help you plan a workout that fits your needs.

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