Your weight is a balancing act, and calories are part of that equation. Weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you take in. You can do that by reducing extra calories from food and beverages, and increasing calories burned through physical activity.
While that seems simple, it can be challenging to implement a practical, effective and sustainable weight-loss plan. But you don't have to do it alone. Talk to your doctor, family and friends for support. Ask yourself if now is a good time and if you're ready to make some necessary changes. Also, plan smart: Anticipate how you'll handle situations that challenge your resolve and the inevitable minor setbacks.
If you have serious health problems because of your weight, your doctor may suggest weight-loss surgery or medications for you. In this case, your doctor will discuss the potential benefits and the possible risks with you. But don't forget the bottom line: The key to successful weight loss is a commitment to making changes in your diet and exercise habits.
When it comes to weight loss, there's no shortage of diet plans. Check any magazine rack, and you're bound to see the latest and greatest diet plans. But how do you know if a diet plan fits your needs and lifestyle?
Ask yourself these questions about any diet plan you're considering:
• Does it include various foods from the major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources and nuts?
• Does it include foods you like and that you would enjoy eating for a lifetime — not just for several weeks or months?
• Can you easily find these foods in your local grocery store?
• Will you be able to eat your favorite foods or, better yet, all foods (even if some are in small quantities)?
• Does it fit your lifestyle and budget?
• Does it include proper amounts of nutrients and calories to help you lose weight safely and effectively?
• Is regular physical activity part of the plan?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, keep looking. There are better diet plans out there for you.
Diet and exercise
The key to successful weight loss is developing healthy diet and exercise habits. You may not like those words — diet and exercise. But don't get hung up on them. Diet just means eating healthy, lower calorie meals. Exercise means being more physically active.
Although people appropriately focus on diet when they're trying to lose weight, being active also is an essential component of a weight-loss program. When you're active, your body uses energy (calories) to move, helping to burn the calories you take in with food you eat.
Cleaning the house, making the bed, shopping, mowing and gardening are all forms of physical activity. Exercise, on the other hand, is a structured and repetitive form of physical activity that you do on a regular basis.
Whatever activity you choose, do it regularly. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week. Keep in mind that you may need more physical activity to lose weight and keep it off.
Diet pills, supplements and surgery
Diet pills and surgery can help with weight loss — when combined with a healthy diet and physical activity. But diet pills aren't for everyone. Neither is surgery. If you're obese and have weight-related health problems, talk with your doctor about whether diet pills or surgery could help you lose weight. Your doctor will also counsel you about the lifestyle changes you'll need to make to be successful over the long term.
A word of caution: Although you can find diet pills and supplements at the drugstore, supermarket, health food store and online, virtually none has been proved effective. And some are downright dangerous. Talk with your doctor before taking any diet pills or supplements.