Losing weight: 6 strategies for success
Follow these proven strategies to lose weight and improve your health.
Follow these proven strategies to lose weight and improve your health.By the staff at the Mayo Clinic
Hundreds of fad diets, weight loss programs and direct scams promise quick and easy weight loss. However, the foundation for successful weight loss remains a healthy, calorie-restricted diet combined with increased physical activity. Successful, long-term weight loss requires permanent lifestyle and health changes.
How do you make these changes permanent? Consider following these six strategies for successful weight loss.
1. Make sure you are ready
Long-term weight loss takes time and effort - and a long-term commitment. Even if you don't want to put off losing weight indefinitely, make sure you're willing to make permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. To determine your readiness, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I motivated to lose weight?
- Am I too distracted by other stresses?
- Do I use food as a stress management tool?
- Am I willing to learn or use other stress management strategies?
- Do I need other support - whether from friends or professionals - to deal with stress?
- Am I ready to change my eating habits?
- Am I ready to change my activity habits?
- Do I have time to make these changes?
Talk to your doctor if you need help dealing with stressors or emotions that oppose your readiness. When you're ready, you'll find it easier to set goals, stay committed, and change habits.
2. Find your inner motivation
Nobody else can make you lose weight. You need to make dietary and exercise changes to please yourself. What will give you the burning urge to stick with your weight loss plan?
Make a list of things that are important to keep you motivated and focused, whether it's an upcoming vacation or better overall health. Then find a way to ensure that you can tap into your motivating factors in times of temptation. For example, you could put an encouraging note on the pantry door or on the refrigerator.
While successful weight loss requires you to take responsibility for your own behavior, it helps to have support—and the right kind. Choose people who will support you, who will positively encourage you without shame, embarrassment or sabotage.
Ideally, you'll find people who will listen to your concerns and feelings, spend time with you to exercise or create healthy menus with you, and share the priority you place on developing a healthier lifestyle. Your support group can also take responsibility, which can be a powerful motivator for sticking with your weight loss goals.
If you prefer to keep your weight-loss plans a secret, you can hold yourself accountable by weighing yourself regularly, recording your diet and exercise progress in a diary, or tracking your progress with digital tools.
3. Set realistic goals
It may seem obvious to set realistic weight loss goals. But do you really know what's realistic? In the long term, it's smart to lose 0.5 to 1 kilo per week. In general, to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 more calories than you consume each day through a calorie-restricted diet and regular physical activity.
Depending on your weight, 5% of your current weight might be a realistic goal, at least for an initial goal. If you weigh 82 kilos, that's 4 kilos. Even this weight loss can help lower your risk of chronic health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
When setting goals, think about process and outcome goals. “Walk 30 minutes every day” is an example of a process goal. "Lose 10 pounds" is an example of an outcome goal. It is not essential that you have an outcome goal, but you should set process goals, as changing your habits is the key to weight loss.
4. Enjoy healthier foods
Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss should include reducing total calorie intake. However, cutting calories doesn't mean sacrificing taste, satisfaction, or even ease of meal prep.
One way to lower your calorie intake is to eat more plant-based foods – fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose variety to reach your goals without sacrificing taste or nutrition.
Start your weight loss with these tips:
- Eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit daily.
- Replace refined grains with whole grains.
- Use modest amounts of healthy fats such as olive oil, vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, butters and nut oils.
- Reduce sugar as much as possible, except for the natural sugars found in fruit.
- Choose low-fat dairy products and lean meats and poultry in limited quantities.
5. Stay active, stay active
While you can lose weight without exercise, regular physical activity and calorie restriction can help you gain the weight loss advantage. Exercise can help burn excess calories that you can't get rid of through diet alone.
Exercise also offers numerous health benefits, including improving mood, strengthening the cardiovascular system, and lowering blood pressure. Exercise can also help maintain weight loss. Studies show that people who maintain their weight over the long term engage in regular physical activity.
How many calories you burn depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities. One of the best ways to lose body fat is through consistent aerobic exercise - like B. Brisk walking - for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Some people may need more physical activity to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.
Any extra movement will help burn calories. If you don't fit into formal exercise on any given day, think of ways to increase your physical activity throughout the day. For example, go up and down several stairs instead of using the elevator, or park across the parking lot while shopping.
6. Change your perspective
Eating and exercising healthily for just a few weeks or even months is not enough if you want long-term weight maintenance success. These habits must become a way of life. Lifestyle changes start with an honest analysis of your eating habits and daily routine.
After assessing your personal weight loss challenges, try to come up with a strategy for gradually changing habits and attitudes that sabotaged your previous efforts. So go beyond just identifying your challenges - plan how you're going to deal with them if you want to lose weight for good.
You will likely encounter a setback every now and then. But instead of giving up entirely after a setback, start over the next day. Remember that you are planning to change your life. It won't happen all at once. Stick to your healthy lifestyle and the results will be worth it.
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December 07, 2021
- Hensrud DD, et al. Ready, set, go. In: Mayo Clinic Diet. 2nd edition Mayo Clinic; 2017
- Duyff RL. Achieve and maintain your healthy weight. In: Complete Food and Nutrition Guide from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 5th edition John Wiley & Sons; 2017
- Losing weight: first steps. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/getting_started.html. Accessed on November 15, 2019.
- Do you know some of the health risks of being overweight? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/health_risks_being_overweight/Pages/health-risks-being-overweight.aspx. Accessed on November 15, 2019.
- 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: an American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force report on practice guidelines and The Obesity Society. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014; doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2013.11.004.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed on November 15, 2019.
- Physical activity for a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html. Accessed on November 15, 2019.
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