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Tackling big weight-loss goals

Losing a large amount of weight can seem daunting, but it is possible.

If you're obese, there's a good chance you know that losing weight is a good idea for your health. But there's also a good chance you're at least a little bit intimidated at the thought of all the pounds you need to shed to get back to a healthy weight. It can be overwhelming to think about losing weight when you have quite a bit to lose, notes the American Heart Association (AHA).

But with time, patience, planning and persistence, it is possible to lose even a large amount of weight.

You need to take it one day at a time. And small, gradual changes can lead to good results in the future.

Getting started

Losing weight takes commitment and a well-thought-out plan.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health and AHA offer these tips for starting a successful weight-loss program:

Make a commitment. Start by making a contract with yourself, suggests CDC. Write down the amount of weight you want to lose, the date you'd like to lose it by, the changes you will make to establish healthy eating habits, and the plan you have to get regular exercise.

Take stock of where you are. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about how much weight you need to lose. Start a food diary and record everything you eat. Take a look at your lifestyle and identify things that might make it difficult to lose weight. Then figure out what you can do to overcome these challenges.

Set realistic goals. Establish short-term goals that will help you achieve long-term results. If your long-term goal is to lose 40 pounds and control your blood pressure, for example, your short-term goals may include taking a 15-minute walk every day or having a salad or vegetable with dinner.

Also set realistic goals for how fast you will lose weight. Aim for a slow, steady weight loss.

Start out slowly. If you aren't used to being active, don't try jumping into intense aerobic training sessions right away. Start out slowly with moderate physical activity—like walking. Your body will need time to get used to any new activities. Make sure you also warm up before exercising and cool down when you are finished.

Look for support. Talk to family members or friends who support your weight-loss efforts. It's easier to make lifestyle changes when you have people you can talk to and rely on for support.

Monitor your progress. Revisit your goals and review your progress. If you are meeting your goals, celebrate with nonfood rewards, such as buying yourself flowers or attending a sporting event with friends.

If your plan isn't working, you might want to talk to your doctor about bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery can be an option for people who are severely obese and can't lose weight with lifestyle changes alone or those who have severe obesity-related health problems.

Have patience. It's important to remember that you're not going to lose weight overnight. Take it one day at a time. Remember that you're trying to change years of lifestyle habits.

Lose pounds, gain health

Obesity puts you at increased risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and some forms of cancer.

But while losing pounds is nice, taking care of yourself and staying in good health should be your top priority.

By setting achievable goals and sticking to your plan, you can put obesity in your rearview mirror and enjoy a healthy, active life.

Reviewed 12/6/2023

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