Most weight-loss programs can help you lose weight at first. But you will lose more and have more health benefits if you can keep with it for a longer time. You need to find the right balance of eating and physical activity that you can keep doing or a program that works with your lifestyle.
Are you ready to make changes?
Before you begin treatment, decide if you are ready to make the lifestyle changes needed to lose weight. Losing weight and keeping it off can be hard. Think about successes that you had before and how you were able to achieve them.
If you are ready to make a plan for healthier eating, your doctor may suggest losing 10% of your weight at a rate of 1 lb (0.45 kg) to 2 lb (0.9 kg) a week as your first target. Research shows that a 10% weight loss can improve your health.1 It is better that you maintain a small amount of loss rather than lose a lot of weight fast and gain it back.
Tips to help with your weight-loss program
- Set realistic goals. Many people expect to lose much more weight than is realistic. Think about why you want to lose weight, and prepare for slip-ups.
- Find what works best for you. Finding a plan that includes daily menus and recipes may be best.
- Get family and friends involved to provide support. Talk to them about why you are changing your eating habits and physical activity and how important losing weight is to you.
- Identify obstacles to losing weight. Keep a food journal(What is a PDF document?). Look at it to try to find things that cause you to overeat, such as stress or depression.
- Replace unhealthy food temptations with healthier foods such as fruit and low-fat yogurt.
- Get enough physical activity for weight loss. To find out how many calories are burned during various activities, see the Interactive Tool: How Many Calories Did You Burn?
Tips to help change how you eat
- Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. This helps you eat regular meals and a balanced, nutritious diet. See Meal Planning: Menu and Grocery List(What is a PDF document?).
- Find your sources of added calories, such as snacking, drinking alcohol, or having soft drinks. Then reduce your intake of them.
- Cut unhealthy fat from your diet.
- Use lean meats and meat alternatives.
- Make healthy fast-food, restaurant, and convenience-food choices to stay with your healthy eating when you eat out.
- Keep unhealthy food out of the house.
- Eat before you go grocery shopping.
Tips for staying with it
Research shows that people who keep track of what they eat and drink each day have more success at losing weight:
- Keep a food journal to record everything you eat and drink.
- Pay attention to portion sizes.
- Use a calorie counter to check calories. You can find a calorie counter at a bookstore or online (see www.supertracker.usda.gov/foodtracker.aspx).
Keep up with your physical activity.
Think ahead about situations that may be hard. Ask yourself if you are eating for reasons other than hunger:
- Have you noticed a change in your eating or weight since a change occurred in your lifestyle or stress level?
- Do you use food as a reward?
- Do you eat whatever is most available because you don't plan ahead?
Many commercial weight-loss programs (such as Weight Watchers or Lifesteps) and self-help or support groups (such as Overeaters Anonymous) are available. The quality and effectiveness of programs vary widely, from reputable obesity clinics associated with hospitals to quick weight-loss schemes that may even harm your health with untested "miracle" products.
When considering a weight-loss program, ask questions about the staff's qualifications and whether counseling is offered. Be aware that the advertising strategies for weight-loss programs and products, such as using celebrities and "before and after" pictures, are usually unrealistic.