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4. Build in Accountability

Being accountable for following your weight loss plan -- whatever it is -- is crucial, says Stevens. "Almost all organized weight loss programs include some sort of accountability," he says. It could be attendance at a meeting, a weekly weigh in, or other structured program components.

You can build in your own accountability, of course, or partner with a friend. Your structure can be similar to those set by organized programs, or you can make them action based. For instance, you might set a goal and schedule for exercise each week (such as "I’ll walk three times this week after work for at least 45 minutes"). Also set a day mid week to evaluate how well you are sticking with your plans. Adapt them if necessary -- or play makeup. For instance, if by Wednesday, you haven’t walked any night, you know you need to walk the next three out of four nights.

Seeking medical help, especially when you have many pounds to lose, is wise. "It's always a good idea to consult with a doctor," Stevens adds. A doctor may also recommend other experts, such as a personal trainer or nutritionist.

5. Adjust Your Expectations

It's frustrating but true. That extra 100 pounds didn't come on overnight, and it's going to come off slowly. "We recommend people cut back 500 calories a day," Stevens says. Losing just one to two pounds a week is best, he says. So it could take a year or two to lose 100 pounds.

Set short-term goals, Stevens and other say, instead of focusing on the 100 pounds. Think about it, for instance, as a plan to lose 20 pounds -- five times.

To stay motivated, set realistic goals beyond a specific number of pounds, advises Daniel Stettner, PhD, director of psychology at UnaSource Health Center, Troy, and adjunct professor of psychology at Wayne State University in Detroit. Think about getting to a certain weight, for instance, by a holiday -- Thanksgiving, Halloween, whatever -- when it's likely you'll be in a photo, he says.

Or think about an upcoming special event and decide you want to fit into a favorite, currently snug, dress or suit by then.

Focus on short-term weight loss goals that will help you meet the long-term ones, says Marisa Moore, RD, an Atlanta dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "If your goal is to drop three dress sizes, that's long term. Short term is answering the question, what am I going to do to get there?" You could cut a three soda-a-day habit to one a day, for instance, taking a week to do it. And you could park farther from stores, requiring you to walk more.

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