What You Need to Know Before Getting Started
Weight loss can be achieved either by eating fewer calories or by burning more calories with physical activity, preferably both.
A healthy weight loss program consists of:
- A reasonable, realistic weight loss goal
- A reduced calorie, nutritionally-balanced eating plan
- Regular physical activity
- A behavior change plan to help you stay on track with your goals
We want to help you with each of these components.
Keep in Mind
- Calories count
- Portions count
- Nutrition counts
- Even a small amount of weight loss can lead to big health benefits
- Strive to develop good habits to last a lifetime
- Discuss weight loss with your doctor before getting started
- Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) - an indicator of body fat - and see where it fits within the BMI categories.
- Discuss weight loss with your doctor and decide on a goal. If you have a lot of weight to lose, set a realistic intermediate goal, maybe to lose 10 pounds. Remember that even a small amount of weight loss can lead to big health benefits.
How Do I Know Which Weight Loss Plan is Right For Me?
- Keep in mind that you want to develop lifestyle habits that will help you maintain your weight in a healthy range. A short-term "diet" that you "go on" and then "go off" is not the answer to long-term weight management.
- In choosing how to go about losing weight, keep in mind key habits of people who have lost weight and kept it off. These people are called "Successful Losers" by the weight control experts who have studied them.
Key Behaviors of Successful Losers*
- Getting regular physical activity
- Reducing calorie and fat intake
- Eating regular meals, including breakfast
- Weighing themselves regularly
- Not letting small "slips" turn into large weight regain
*From The National Weight Control Registry. See "Long-term Weight Maintenance" in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 82, No. 1, 222S-225S, July 2005.
- If you are considering a commercial weight loss program, read Selecting a Weight Loss Program or Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight-Loss Program.
- Ask your doctor if you should have a referral to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). An RDN can provide personalized dietary advice taking into consideration other health issues, lifestyle, and food likes and dislikes.
- You might also take a look at our What You Should Know About Popular Diets page.
Resources for Healthy Eating
- Shopping: What to Look For
- Sample Reduced-Calorie Menus
- Eating Healthy When Dining Out
- Eating Healthy with Ethnic Food
- MyPlate Plan
Resources for Healthy Activity
- Move Your Way
- Guide to Physical Activity
- Walking: A Step in the Right Direction
- Active at Any Size
- HHS Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
Staying On Track with Your Goals
Setting realistic goals and tracking your progress are key to your success. In fact, research has shown that those who keep track of their behaviors are more likely to take off weight and keep it off. A reasonable rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week.
These resources can help you set goals and monitor your progress:
Questions or comments? Contact Us