No matter how you slice it, diet is a dirty word. It smacks of deprivation and hunger pangs. To overcome the pain, you need a plan.
So WebMD asked the experts for advice, and put together their quick tips on how to get your weight loss going.
1. Know Your Weight Loss Goals
Consider how much you need to lose before you decide how to do it, recommends Brian C. Jacobson, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and a gastroenterologist at Boston University Medical Center in Massachusetts.
Very overweight or obese. "For someone obese, I refer them to our weight loss center," says Jacobson, who says people with a lot of weight to lose can probably benefit from a structured, supervised program.
If you're slightly or moderately overweight. "I advise controlling portion size," Jacobson says. "If you control portion size, you cut calories."
To learn correct portion sizes, consult a registered dietitian or take a look at the USDA's new MyPlate guidelines.
Exercise also has to be part of your plan, Jacobson tells the do-it-yourselfers. But that doesn't necessarily mean joining a gym. "Buy a cheap treadmill," he says, and when you're watching TV, hop on and take a walk.
Before starting a new exercise regime or weight loss plan, however, remember to talk with your doctor.
2. Understand Your Weight Loss Personality
Personality plays a role in our attitude towards food, says Thomas R. Przybeck, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, who has published on the topic of diet and personality. Know your tendencies and tailor your plan to conquer the unproductive inclinations.
Impulsive. "If you have a tendency to be impulsive, you might see a pint of Ben & Jerry's in the freezer and go for it," Przybeck says. Clearly you are a dieter who needs to remove those temptations.
Oblivious. If you tend to not pay attention when you eat -- maybe you're a TV snacker? -- you need to avoid such situations if you want to control portions.
Uptight. "If you are highly anxious, you will probably have more difficulty," Przybeck says. "Those who are anxious, nervous, and depressed might eat to feel better."
Tenacious. Certain personalities don't find it that difficult losing weight. "If you are highly self-directed, cooperative, and have a lot of stick-to-it-ive-ness, you are going to have an easier time," Przybeck says.
Sociable. You tend to monitor your food intake better than others, Przybeck found.
3. Double Up: Diet & Exercise
When her heartburn patients ask which should come first, diet or exercise, Lauren Gerson, MD, MSc, director of the Esophageal and Small Bowel Disorders Center at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, says: jump in and do both.
"It's a combination of diet and exercise [that will lead to weight loss]," she says.
4. Make a Firm Weight Loss Commitment
To be successful, it helps to understand why you want to lose weight. So before you begin a weight loss plan, ask yourself:
- Am I ready to do this?
- Is my motivation coming from within?
- Can I deal with occasional setbacks or lack of progress?
- Can I focus on weight loss fully? (If you're in the midst of a job change or other distractions, for example, it might be better to resolve those issues, and then focus on weight loss efforts.)
Finally, be sure you're committed to losing weight for yourself -- not because someone else is pressuring you to do so.
Then, take things slowly, keep these tips in mind, and you should be on the road to weight loss in no time.