Tips for Healthful Weight Loss

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There’s no single correct way to lose weight, but the following suggestions may help you formulate a plan and stick with it:

  • While only you can change your habits, others can help you to make a weight-loss plan that is safe and effective. Consult with your physician and dietitian when beginning your diet and exercise regimen.
  • Don’t try to lose more than a pound or two a week. Fad diets that promise accelerated weight loss tend to cause losses of water and muscle rather than losses of fat. Accelerated weight loss can also cause changes in your body that can harm your health or cause you to regain weight after the diet. To build muscle as fat is lost, include resistance training in your regimen.
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  • Make specific plans. Specific resolutions are easier to follow than generic goals. Rather than resolving simply to lose weight, make a plan to walk 30 minutes every day and to eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal.
  • Set attainable, realistic goals based on your current fitness level. For example, if you were not exercising at all previously, start with a goal of gardening or walking for 15 minutes, three days a week.
  • Consider keeping a food journal, at least for a little while. Studies have shown that people tend to underestimate how much they eat. Writing down everything you eat or drink can help you keep track of your actual intake and see where you might make healthful changes in your diet. As you learn more about what, when, and why you eat, you may cease to need your journal. However, periodically keeping food records can help you stay on track, even during weight maintenance.
  • Be careful at restaurants and fast-food establishments. You have less control over how the food is prepared and how much ends up on your plate. (Portions served in restaurants tend to be larger than recommended portions.) Members of the National Weight Control Registry ate at fast-food franchises less than once a week and at other restaurants about 2 1/2 times a week.
  • Be prepared for some setbacks. Be ready to forgive yourself and get back on the horse if you miss some exercise or have some extra cake at a party.
  • If boredom becomes an issue, consider varying your menu or your choice of exercises.

Originally Published July 28, 2006

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