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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.

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.

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