When You Need to Lose Weight for Your Heart

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on April 09, 2023
4 min read

It’s time to show your heart some love. When your doctor says you need to lose weight for the sake of your heart, start with a plan.

Set realistic goals. Come up with an eating plan that works for you and one that you can stick to.

Use these 10 tips to help you stay motivated.

  1. Put your motivation in writing. Keep in mind why you want to lose weight. Note the difference it will make to your heart, the rest of your body, and your mood. Keep it handy, so you can read it when you need inspiration.
  2. Believe in yourself. Expect to be successful. A good attitude toward weight loss and good health is key. If things get tough, reach out to a dieting buddy or a sympathetic friend or family member for encouragement.
  3. Weigh yourself every day. Statistics show that daily weighing leads to more consistent weight loss. If you see the number on the scale rise, you have an immediate opportunity to do something about it such as moving more or eating smaller food portions.
  4. Celebrate your successes. Give yourself credit for the pounds you lose. Remember how far you’ve come. Keep an old photo of yourself to remind you of the progress you have made.
  5. Manage your splurges. If you really want a big piece of pie as an occasional treat, be sure you cut down on calories somewhere else or spend more time working out.
  6. Keep a record. Write down what you eat every day and how much exercise you are getting. Read your notes regularly. This can really help. It’s a proven way to lose weight.
  7. Watch your portions. The more you put on your plate, the more you will eat. Go easy on rich, high-calorie food. Help yourself to larger portions of vegetables, salads, and broth-based soups.
  8. Make time for fitness. Physical activity burns calories and relieves stress. If your schedule is tight or you miss an exercise session, think about how you can make up for it. Take 10-minute breaks throughout the day to walk around the block. Use a pedometer to see how many steps you take and how many more you can add.
  9. Enjoy how you feel. As you lose weight and exercise, you'll probably feel better than you did before. You may also find you sleep better and have more energy. Even losing just a few pounds can do wonders for your body and your outlook. Let that progress inspire you to keep going.
  10. Take charge of your cravings. If you really crave something sweet, try a small portion. Eat it slowly, savor every bite, and resist the urge to reach for more. A piece of sugarless gum can often satisfy your craving for something sweet.

As your weight goes down, you not only lose fat but also a small amount of muscle. It’s estimated that up to 25% of the body tissue lost during weight loss comes from muscle. Since muscle is critical to keeping your metabolism perking, losing it can reduce your metabolic rate and hinder weight loss. Strength training can help preserve and build muscle to get your metabolism humming again.

The set point theory says that your body naturally tries to maintain a certain weight where it is most comfortable. If you find yourself stuck at the same weight time and again, you may have reached the comfort zone. Reducing much further typically results in regaining weight.

You may need fewer calories or more physical activity to sustain your lower weight. This is the most likely cause of a weight-loss plateau. Further, it’s almost impossible to lose much weight without exercising. Many scientists agree that whether you exercise is the best way to predict whether you’ll successfully maintain your weight.

Other factors that can influence weight loss include thyroid or adrenal gland problems, medications you’re taking, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and quitting smoking.

But more than likely, your weight is at a plateau because your portion sizes have crept up, and/or your workouts have become less frequent or less intense. You also may be indulging in high-calorie foods more often.

The truth of the matter is that most people let down their guard a little after their initial weight loss. It’s perfectly natural to get more comfortable with the eating plan, and possibly overlook the prescribed portion sizes or quantities. The result is weight maintenance instead of further weight loss.