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Weight loss: How to set yourself up for success

Taking inventory of your current lifestyle, setting goals and learning how to avoid setbacks are some of the things you can do to make a weight-loss program work for you.

You've finally decided enough is enough—it's time to lose those extra pounds. But instead of diving into the latest diet fad, take some time to plan your weight-loss strategy. A little preparation can go a long way in helping you achieve healthy weight loss.

Make a plan

Your strategy for weight loss should include healthy eating, physical activity and other behavioral changes, according to the National Institutes of Health.

You should also plan on weight loss happening gradually, rather than all at once. Studies show that people who lose 1 or 2 pounds a week are more likely to keep it off, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you join a weight-loss program, make sure it is run by a credentialed health professional, such as a registered dietitian, an exercise physiologist or a medical doctor. Beware of less-credible programs that promise fast or effortless results.

When planning your weight-loss strategy, ask yourself:

  • What types of exercise do you like to do? You're more likely to stick with activities you enjoy.
  • What healthy foods do you like? If this is a short list, you might ask a dietitian about how to make your favorite meals in new, healthier ways.

Set goals

Come up with small goals that can help you keep on track. Writing down your goals will help you gauge your progress.

If you're not used to exercising, set goals that won't leave you exhausted and discouraged. Instead, start with manageable bouts of activity and work up to more. For instance, set a goal to walk for 10 minutes a day during the first week and 15 minutes the next week.

Track your progress toward your goals with an exercise and healthy-eating journal.

Make sure to reward yourself when you reach a goal—you deserve it. But celebrate your success with a nonfood reward, such as buying new workout clothes or spending a day at the spa.

Stay in it for the long haul

Don't give up if you temporarily stray from your weight-loss plan. Everyone has setbacks once in a while. Just remember all the reasons you wanted to lose weight in the first place and get back on track.

Reviewed 3/28/2024

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