If you've got 100 pounds or more to lose, chances are you've already been on numerous diets and exercise programs, without long-term success. So, the standard advice -- eat less, exercise more, and don't give up -- just isn't enough.
WebMD polled weight loss experts -- as well as men and women who have lost 100 pounds or more and kept it off -- to ask for their best tips for those who have lots to lose. Here’s their advice.
1. Shrink Yourself: Analyze the Payoff You Get From Excess Weight
The question can startle people, but Anne Fletcher, RD, a Minnesota dietitian and author of the "Thin for Life" book series, asks it anyway. "What is your excess weight doing for you?"
Put another way, she asks: "What are you getting out of NOT losing weight?"
Her clients and those she has interviewed for her weight loss books have given her some surprising answers. Some told her they were hiding behind their weight as a way to avoid intimacy.
Others had less complicated reasons, she says. "One man said he didn't like mowing the lawn, and he didn't have to do it when he was heavy."
Identifying and understanding your underlying motivation to stay heavy -- and getting help if you need it to address the underlying issues -- can help spur your motivation to lose.
2. Assess Your Readiness
Your readiness to lose weight, once and for all, is crucial, says Fletcher. For her books, she has interviewed 20 people who lost 100 or more pounds. In general, the more ready they were -- with few distractions or excess stress in other areas of life -- the better they did.
How do you assess your readiness? Fletcher suggests asking yourself these questions: "Is my financial situation reasonably stable?" "Is my job and my spouse's job likely to stay the same [for the foreseeable future]?" "Do I have the time to devote to weight control?" "Are my relationships stable?"
That's not to say if life isn't perfect you shouldn't still embark on a weight loss program, she says. But it is easier to focus on weight loss if you don't have multiple stresses elsewhere, she says.
Of course, there is always the exception. "I had one person who said her life was in complete chaos when she began to lose weight," Fletcher tells WebMD. "She felt the weight was the one thing she could control. So there's no one-size fits all."
3. Consider the Options
A plan that works for some people won't work for others.
"Get multiple sources of advice," suggests Victor Stevens, PhD, senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in Portland, Ore., who has researched weight loss.
Whether you choose a supervised, structured weight loss and exercise program, go it alone, or undergo gastric bypass surgery, the process will be a life change, experts say. Instead of thinking you'll go on a diet (or that gastric bypass surgery will solve all your weight problems), understand that you are adopting a new, life-long plan of better eating and exercise, Stevens says.