How can I lose weight successfully?

Robert DeVito
Fitness Specialist

Losing weight is simple; it is just not so easy. I believe when this question arises it could be reframed to "How do I lose weight and keep it off"? I am certain that you have lost weight before and regained it; so here are tips to modify your thinking for long-term success.

Here are five tips to insure you break your failure cycle to reach your goals:

Get specific and avoid "vague" goals. Weight loss is a poor goal. It is too general and lacks focus. The more specific you are with your goals the more likely you will be to reach them. How much weight loss? What is your time frame for reaching these milestones? What are you absolutely willing to do to achieve these results?

Focus on what you are gaining, not on what you are giving up. If you are focused on restricting items from your life and view improving fitness levels/exercise as a chore, or, you are focused on eliminating foods from your life—how long do you think you will have the willpower to hold out?

A better strategy is to list out all of the things you will gain by making changes to your habits. Improved energy and self-confidence would most likely happen first. Self-pride and the ability to stick with your goals and plans would follow.

Get into the process and out of the outcome. Change takes time. Be patient. No one makes a decision and magically changes. Everyone makes mistakes and takes missteps. Understand that a mistake is not the end. Get right back on track and get going.

Improved fitness and reduced weight of any substantial sum is most likely a 12 to 18 month process. There will be plateaus and setbacks. How you plan for and deal with these setbacks will make all of the difference in your success. You will not experience smooth sailing. And, if you do, you will not maintain it for long.

Focus on your schedule. If you schedule it, you will do it. For many people sticking to a schedule is difficult. The habit of procrastination sets in and what I refer to as "The Tomorrow Syndrome" becomes a rally cry. If you will always start tomorrow and justify your lack of commitment to your health and goals you will never reach the goals that you set. Schedule your exercise and stick to your schedule. Make your fitness a non-negotiable priority. If you do not, you will not achieve the desired results.

Avoid "all or none" thinking. Focus on progress, not perfection. If you are moving more than you have been before and eating better than you have then you are making progress! Congratulate yourself. You are doing great.

Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The only proven way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn. On the simplest level, you’ll need to eat less and move more. There are many ways to do this, but I believe in hitting targets you can actually see. Less than 2 out of 10 people know how many calories they need to maintain their weight, which is one of the reasons so many people are overweight—they don’t know how much to eat because they don’t know their body’s needs. Therefore, I recommend consulting a health professional who can accurately determine your calorie needs and provide a sound nutrition and exercise plan.

Dr. Ozgen Dogan
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Losing weight comes down to this: limiting the amount of calories you consume each day. For women that's between 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day. For men (sorry ladies!) it's a little higher: 1,600 to 2,000. Your calories should come from a variety of omega-3-rich foods, whole grains, low-fat dairy products like yogurt and feta cheese, fruits and vegetables. Choose foods that are unprocessed and have a low glycemic index. While limiting your calories is a given, you don't want to limit your food groups. The more restrictions you put on yourself, the more you set yourself up for failure.

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

A favorite summertime quick and healthy meal is using the grill. Grill a fish fillet, slice raw vegetables and place in a grilling basket and wrap an ear of corn with fresh rosemary and place on the grill. Another quick and easy meal is a baked potato meal which uses a baked potato filled with reduced fat shredded cheese and steamed frozen vegetables served with a salad and low fat salad dressing or balsamic vinegar. A quick tip for the carb content of a baked potato is to use 5 grams of carbohydrate for each ounce of potato.

Dr. Dawn Marcus

Strategies for successful weight loss:

  • Exercise 30 minutes daily.
  • Add physical activity to daily life.
  • Avoid over-the-counter diet pills.
  • Plan meals.
  • Count calories and measure the fat content of foods.
  • Measure portion sizes.
  • Weigh yourself daily.
The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

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The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit tells readers what they need to know to take control of fibromyalgia symptoms. It includes step-by-step instructions for using effective non-drug treatments,...
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

The common prescription for being fat is to diet. However, weight loss diets are notoriously unsuccessful; the vast majority of people who lose weight regain it. Therefore, it is best to focus on eating well, moving and appreciating your body, and generally taking good care of yourself, regardless of what the scale says.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

The good news is that burning off more calories than you're taking in will cause you to lose weight. The bad news is that there's no magic formula. Studies find that if you lose the weight slowly, you'll be much more effective at keeping it off, especially if you incorporate exercise into your routine and reduce other sedentary behavior, such as watching TV.

The safest way to lose weight is to eat a nutritionally complete diet that is moderate in calories and fat, add exercise to your daily routine and decrease sedentary activities. In some cases, for example, if your health is being immediately and severely compromised because of your weight, faster weight loss may be appropriate. In these cases, your healthcare professional may recommend drug therapy or surgery.

Losing weight can be challenging, regardless of the time of year, but with the right tools and strategies, it can be done. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Steer clear of fad diets and complicated weight-loss schemes.
  • Keep a journal of everything you eat or drink during the day, including that cappuccino or handful of peanuts, and use it to calculate your daily calorie intake.
  • Aim for 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 15 minutes of resistance training most days of the week.
  • Keep track of your weight.
  • Remove tempting foods from your house and workplace.

If you want to lose weight successfully, don't surrender to fads or extreme programs. Beware of gimmicky dieting tricks or extreme eating plans. Starvation diets, grapefruit diets, cookie diets—they all disappear as quickly as they show up for one simple reason: They don't work. If some guy wants to stick you in a sweat lodge for three days to "teach your body how to metabolize your emotional fat," get away from him. Don't fall for the quick fix.

Give yourself some time to adjust to a new way of eating. And give yourself a break when you deviate from your new lifestyle philosophy. It's a process. It takes time to ingrain new habits to take the place of old destructive behaviors. You may have three great days, then two bad ones, but don't let that stop you from sticking to the long-term plan. Once you adjust to a healthy lifestyle, you'll never go back.

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

Approach your weight loss as a health transformation and don't focus on the pounds but focus on feeling better and getting healthier.

Pretend that this transformation is like baking a new product. First you will need some very important ingredients.

Ingredients for transformation:

  • An AHA moment (that moment in time where the light bulb clicks and you are ready to do this).
  • Knowledge. That comes from talking with those of us who have been successful on this transformation journey and all the experts available to you through Share Care.
  • Your action Plan. (Choosing the plan that is right for you) I chose YOU ON A DIET with the YOUdocs...You may chose weight watchers or some other healthy plan. You may choose the 28-day engine 2 diet and decide to go vegan or maybe even gluten free.
  • Have a Vision of where you want to be but have some short-term goals to help you along the way. This may be as simple as seeing your first 2 inches disappear from your waist. Totally doable on these plans in a short period of time.
  • Mix in a little confidence along with some self-gratification along the way to keep your recipe going. Don’t let it get stale or dried up...

When you have your ingredients follow the following directions:

  • Step 1: Remove the five food felons from your diet
  • Step 2: Dump your fridge and pantry with all food offenders
  • Step 3: Grocery shop and replace the offenders with good whole plant based foods and if you are eating meats. Chicken, fish and turkey, nothing on 4 legs. If you are going plant based nothing with a mother or a face.
  • Step 4: Start a food journal and make sure you are aware of what and when you are eating. If you need someone to help you be accountable consider and e-coach.
  • Step 5: Get moving. You gotta move it to lose it! Get a pedometer and count those steps, 10,000 a day will transform you in no time.
  • Step 6 and 7: Don’t forget to add a little sleep and loving to your transformation.
  • Step 8: Now stir in some stress and time management. Laughter is a great ingredient.
  • Step 9: Add some metabolism boosters to your regime. Make sure to stir your recipe at least 5-6 times a day
  • Step 10: Replace old behaviors with new ones. Every recipe loves new ingredients and to have a great transformation recipe you need to make it your own. Be creative and have fun and you will be transformed in no time.
Dr. Mike Dow, PsyD
Addiction Medicine Specialist

Restrictive diets usually fail, but targeting food addiction and maintaining long-term behavioral modification does work. Start small. Stay away from spending 4 hours per day at the gym and obsessively counting calories. If you’re not ready for the public scrutiny of a big gym, start with something that feels easy and sustainable in the long-term. This can be something as simple as taking an evening walk or taking the stairs at work. Make it a ritual, and you won’t have to spend any effort trying to do it after a month or two.

Focus on what you will be adding to your diet opposed to what you are taking away. Add more whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They have lots of fiber, and a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that a high-fiber diet leaves roughly twice as many calories undigested as a low-fiber diet does. This means you can actually eat more of these healthy foods without gaining weight. And the opposite, a diet made up of processed food, added sugar, and saturated fat, sets you up for food addiction and countless other diseases.

Get your emotional needs met. Lean on your significant other, close friends, or family. If there’s no one who you feel gets you, find a psychotherapist or get a sponsor at a free Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

That is a very loaded question because there is no one answer for everyone. However, the first thing to do is to decide you are going to commit to losing weight because weight loss is a process and requires time, focus and a very good support system.

Once you have decided you would like to begin a weight loss program, you have to find one that can realistically fit into your lifestyle and schedule. If you find that after 2 or 3 weeks you are continually "failing" at weight loss, then you are not in the right program, it is not you and you need to shift gears and find something that will work for you. There are many commercial programs, physician run programs as well as individual plans that can work but you need to find something that will give you all the support and direction that you need.

Also, you have to realize that weight loss is not easy and you will hit bumps in the road. However, this is normal and the most important aspect of any program is not to throw in the towel and give up but to put the day behind you(or week) and jump back into your goals and re-focus. Make sure you have the help you need to keep your positive attitude and motivation because any goal is attainable - you just have to put yourself in the right place to succeed!

Wendy Batts
Fitness Specialist

Losing weight is a matter of burning more calories than you eat. Body fat is simply stored energy and to reduce it we need to manage the energy put into our bodies (what we eat) against the energy we use (natural metabolism and physical activity). To use what’s been stored we need create an energy (calorie) deficit by moving more and eating less.

A sensible reduced calorie diet is the place to start when it comes to eating fewer calories and simply moving more throughout daily life with the intent of incorporating regular cardiorespiratory and strength exercise is where we want to begin when it comes to increasing the amount of energy we expend. Remember not to make these changes too drastic or you can feel deprived or burn out too soon. Make small realistic changes to lifestyle and watch the pounds begin to drop off!

The quick answer here is to simply say: eat less and move more so that you burn more calories than you take in. I do understand that there are variables that make weight loss difficult like, lack of good information, socioeconomic issues, lack of self-control, etc. So to make it a little easier to understand how to effectively lose weight and keep it off I am offering some suggestions that you can take action on immediately.  

Actions that lead to success include the following but are not limited to…

  • Walk more, drive less. 
  • Add resistance training to your weight loss plan. More muscle = higher metabolism!
  • Reduce your stress. There are many studies providing evidence that link stress to weight gain.
  • Drink plenty of water and don't drink your calories (soda and coffee).
  • Read a chapter everyday from a book that inspires you and moves you to action.
  • Always eat a healthy breakfast. Never skip breakfast!
  • Have healthy snacks on hand.
  • Use a schedule book. Trust me this works! Make a schedule everyday and stick to it. Schedule workouts, healthy meals, and reading alongside work and responsibilities.
  • Eliminate store bought foods that you can prep yourself and eat healthier. You will be shocked how good they taste when fresh (salsa, soup, salad dressing, Etc).
  • Walk 30-60 minutes every day. It does not have to be done all at once but make sure your 10 to 20 minutes of walking here and there adds up to 30 to 60 minutes total for the day.
Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

Unless you have a real medical problem such as thyroid dysfunction or diabetes, to lose weight, you just have to take in fewer calories than you expend. Did I hear the crowd say "Duh?" It sounds simple, and it is, yet more than two-thirds of us don't have a handle on how to consume only what we need each day. In fact, I think that weight gain and getting out of shape can be such a gradual process that we don't realize it is happening until 10 or 20 pounds later.

The first step in beating the numbers is being aware of what you are taking in. For instance, if you go out and walk or run three miles, you burn approximately 300 calories. If you then go out and reward yourself with a creamy, frothy, iced coffee drink, you pour 600 calories back in and you need to go out and do another three miles just to break even. Start reading the labels of the foods you eat. Notice what the manufacturer considers a serving size (often much less than we actually eat) and how many calories that amount contains. I think you will surprised by how quickly the calories add up.

When you are out at a typical restaurant (where the serving sizes are like small platters), try to divide everything except the veggies in half and eat only one of those halves. I know this goes against the "clean your plate" and "children in Ethiopia" mantras that we have heard all our lives, but do it anyway. In addition, if you start dinner by drinking a glass of water and then eat slowly, you will feel full and still enjoy the delicious flavors. I promise that anyone living in the United States today is unlikely to starve by eating only half of what is presented to her. (Besides, you can take the part you didn't eat home to have for lunch the next day.)

Healthy, sustainable weight loss is approximately one pound per week. This means burning 500 calories more than you take in each day.

On the other hand, if you want to lose a pound a week but don't want to limit your intake, you can eat what you normally do and run five miles a day (burning 500 calories). I know one pound doesn't seem like a lot, but it is a start. And truthfully, if you ramp up your exercise and watch what you eat at the same time, you are likely to lose more than that.

Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age

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Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age

It's one of the undeniable facts of life. After we reach a certain age, our bodies change. No matter how fit we may have been at 20, we're very different people after 40. But growing older doesn't...
Dr. Howard Sichel
Physical Therapy Specialist

We support all of our clients in their weight loss goals by encouraging them to be consistent in their exercise program. Consistency is the key that will allow everything else that you are doing in the weight loss battle to finally succeed. Long term weight loss in a helathy way is easily attained, when you are ready to accomplish it.

Take all of the advice about calories and the rainbow colored foods but add a consistent exercise program as well.

The best way to lose weight is to get your butt moving! Does that sound pretty simple? That’s because it really is: the bottom line in weight loss is—move more and eat less!

In general, for women, you need to drop your daily calories to 1,200 to 1,500. Increase your calorie IQ by looking at the labels on the foods you eat. Increase your daily steps to 10,000. Add steps easily into your day by doing things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Lastly, do some basic body weight exercises at home like squats, push-ups and lunges. If you take natural daily opportunities to move more and eat less you will be out buying your hot pants before you know it.

When trying to lose weight the basic adage of "moving more and eating a little bit less" is really what you are after.

When it comes to moving more it is just finding activities that feel good for your body and that you probably find some pleasure in (or at least don’t hate) and do them on a regular basis. Being as active as possible everyday whether it is parking in the spot furthest from the building or taking the stairs versus the elevator, can help you chew up calories throughout the day, but regular consistent exercise is really going to help you accelerate towards your goals. Not everyone has to run, do sit ups, or do pushups, but finding some sort of exercise that you can do on a regular basis can help you lose weight.

Adjusting what you eat is equally as important. You need to fuel your body with things that help you feel healthy and energetic. How much food you eat, when you eat your food and the right combinations of food are considerations as well. Doing this along with drinking plenty of water and getting sleep can be the basic components of losing weight.

Regular exercise, more movement through the day and making positive food choices are your pillars to success!

Pamela Fortner, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Be accountable for what you eat and what you burn. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. It really is that simple. Start by keeping a food journal and be honest with yourself. If you are going to eat it, write it down so you can see just how many calories you are consuming, then see what and where you can cut back. Read labels to determine portion sizes, total caloric intake etc. The second component to successful weight loss is your exercise program. Choose an activity you enjoy so you will stay motivated. Cycling, running, walking, zumba, a boot camp class, and add in some form of resistance training. Be deligent and you will be successful.

Research shows that the most successful way to lose weight is a combination of diet and exercise.  Weight loss is really a simple math equation. You have to end your day in negative caloric balance. A good rule of thumb is to make a 500 calorie reduction per day to allow for a one or two pound weight loss per week. It is also highly recommended that you learn to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. This teaches your body to use energy quickly, rather than store it as fat to be used at a later time.

When starting out, think of this process as a lifestyle change. The old adage “slow and steady wins the race” certainly applies here. Diets that promote significant and fast weight loss typically fail, resulting in regaining all, most, or even more weight. By slowly making positive changes to the way you eat, and developing the habit of physical activity most or all days of the week, you safely allow your body to adapt. This progressive adaptation also promotes confidence and awareness of self that maintains motivation much longer.

In addition to calorie reduction, exercise is important to maintain and develop lean mass. Exercise also helps to increase metabolism and allow your body to become a more efficient energy system. When faced with the decision as to what time of day to exercise, the research is quite clear. There are significant benefits to getting your workout done in the morning. Those who exercise in the morning are often more efficient, in a better mood, less drowsy, more creative, and sleep better at the end of the day.

Some studies show that the weight you lose from dieting alone is 75% fat and 25% muscle. You want to lose as little muscle as possible to keep your metabolism elevated. Exercising regularly with strength training can prevent the muscle loss associated with dieting and can keep that metabolism running strong! Exercise slows digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. It also helps maintain normalized blood glucose levels so you feel less hungry.

Choose from three action plans.

The Best plan is one I’ve used to lose 78 pounds in 21 weeks. This plan addresses what diets don’t, the habits that contributed to weight gain. Use any diet to lose weight. The real problem is in keeping the weight off. 85 percent of people who diet regain the weight. In some cases he or she gains more. Most after losing the weight have spurts of weight gains catching him or her off guard because his or her habits have not changed. This leads to an onset of yo-yo dieting that leads to unforeseen health issues. I’ve been able to keep my weight off for over two years using a simple acronym created by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen called BESLIM. ‘B’ for breakfast, ‘E’ for exercise, ‘S’ for support, ‘L’ for 5 to 6 low fat meals each day, ‘I’ for individually designed program, and ‘M’ for self-monitoring. Change your habits by putting together a support team that includes your family a Certified Health and Fitness Coach to help you address the causes and equip you with tools like BESLIM to keep the weight off for good.

The Ideal Plan is common in weight loss. It starts with determining how many calories you need to consume each day to lose ‘n’ pounds per week. The formula to calculate this is called TEE, Total Energy Expenditure. A calculator with this formula is available at under the heading “Calorie Calculator.” Once you have calculated the calories you will need to lose ‘n’ pounds per week. Choose a low-glycemic meal plan that’s equal to your calculation. In preparing your meals, consider the use of a 9-inch plate. The 9-inch plate will keep you from consuming too much at any given meal. Divide the plate into three parts by first dividing it in half, and then taking one half and dividing it into half again. The largest half you will use for your vegetables and fruits about the size of a paperback romance novel. The other two half’s are for your protein and starches. Your protein will be about the size of a new deck of cards, and your starches about the size of a tennis ball. Increase your daily activity level to at least the level you selected in your calculation.

The Less Ideal Plan, increase your aerobic workouts and continue eating the way you are currently eating

Consult your physician before starting a weight loss and/or fitness program.

Joel Harper - Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Everyone of my clients is unique and I have to find out what works best for them. A general simple rule of thumb is you have to burn more healthy calories each day than you consume. But this may not be as easy for some as it sounds. That is why it is best to be consistent. Always remember it is like brushing your teeth. You wouldn't go a day without doing it. Right? Ideally you can lose 1 to 2 lbs a week. If you don't reach your goal on a given week, no worries just pick yourself up and get grooving. No one I know is perfect, so don't expect to be yourself. Take advantage of all the healthy food options that this site has to offer. Meals are better if they are automated. The more work you have to do, the more likely you will chose something quick and unhealthy. Try to fill your fridge with healthy options on Sunday, so that the rest of the week you are good to go.

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Fitness Specialist

Weight loss truly comes down to cutting your calories. Calories are the fuel your body needs to survive every day. However, many individuals “over fill their tanks” so to speak, eating too many calories and not moving enough to burn the excess fuel. The calorie surplus leads to increased body fat and weight. So, to lose weight and to keep it off, you have to eat less and move more.

My first piece of advice for successful weight loss is to determine your motivation. It is critical to understand why you want to lose weight. Are you losing weight to live longer, play with your children more, fit into your clothes better? If you have a strong enough “why,” more often than not, you will have the focus and discipline to maintain a success-driven mindset and continue the purposeful actions required over the long haul.

Second, understand the calorie equation and what it will take to create a calorie deficit for yourself each day. To lose 1 pound of fat each week, you need to burn 500 calories per day more than you eat (there are 3500 calories in one pound of fat). There are 2 ways to create that deficit, eat less and/or move more. This can be tricky. For example, did you know that a bran muffin with nuts and a grande 2% white chocolate mocha from Starbucks can yield up to 890 calories – nearly half of the calories recommended for a typical 150 pound individual to eat in a whole day? To burn off this breakfast, it would take about 220 minutes of walking, or 150 minutes of aerobics. As you can see, calories are easy to consume but hard to burn! The lesson here is to count your calories. If you don’t know how many calories you are consuming, you will not be able to successfully manage your weight loss.

Lastly, make it your mission to move more throughout your day. Increasing your daily activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the farthest parking spot and walking, or even standing during your meetings or phone calls each day makes a significant difference in your calorie deficit.

In addition, exercise! For long term success, there is no substitute for the “sweat investment” in your health. Exercise helps condition your heart, lungs and muscles to work more efficiently and can help stave off disease. You don’t have to run a marathon or turn into a bodybuilder; you simply need to add 30 minutes of purposeful, specific, enjoyable exercise into your daily plan.

Bethany Deschamps
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

A good weight loss plan should focus on three primary concepts–total calorie intake, food choices and meal timing.

When it comes to weight loss, total calories consumed must be less than what is needed by the body. The total amount of calories that equals one pound of body fat is 3500 calories. In order to lose one pound of fat, a 3500-calorie deficit must be created. That is very difficult to do in one day but over a period of time (i.e. a week) that is very feasible. As long as calories consumed stays consistently less than calories burned, weight loss can be achieved. A healthy weight loss goal would be 1-2 pounds per week. That is a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day. Generally, most females should consume 1200-1800 calories per day and males 1800-2500 calories for weight loss.

Even if your calorie intake is less than what you are burning, if you continually choose unhealthy sources of calories, weight loss may be slowed or not seen at all. A majority of calories need to come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein (fish) and dairy, and healthy fats. Only a small amount of calories should come from things like fried foods, sodas, potato chips, desserts, candy, or other high calorie, low-nutrient dense foods.

Most people do not realize the importance of meal timing. Our bodies are very good at preserving themselves, especially during times of starvation, and when our bodies go long periods of time without eating, the metabolism begins to slow down in order to preserve the tissue. Additionally, going long periods of time without eating will trigger overeating when food is finally eaten. When food is consumed, regardless of how long it has been since the last meal or snack was eaten, only a certain amount of calories are utilized and the rest are stored as fat. When going long periods of time without eating, even more calories have the potential to be stored as fat as metabolism slows. Eating regular meals, about every 3-4 hours, keeps the metabolism elevated. This is important when you are trying to lose weight. Each day should always start with breakfast to increase metabolism and then meals and/or snacks should occur about every 3-4 hours after that. Consistent meals and snacks eaten about 3-4 hours apart will ensure a healthy metabolism and successful weight loss. Fish oil (Omega-3 EPA/DHA) supplementation also maintains a healthy body weight.

Dominique Adair
Fitness Specialist

Losing weight is part biology, part behavior, and part the overlap between the two. Rather than trying to find an existing "diet" that might not be right for you, try to design a simple, customized program for yourself that you can live with. Here's what we do in my practice -- Write down a list of 15 foods that you think are hindering your weight loss (these are usually treat foods of any variety). Now, divide that list into three sub-lists: List #1 “Can't live without;” List #2 “Would rather not live without;" and List #3 "Might be able to live without." Your list #1 foods include those you will still have once a week (ONE of them in a in a single portion amount) your list #2 foods are those that you will still have once every other week (ONE of them in a single portion amount); and your List #3 foods are those you will enjoy once a month (ONE of them in a single portion amount). Now that you've prioritized your treat foods, you'll need to make sure you are getting plenty of healthy foods. Each plate (or meal) should be 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 high-fiber carbohydrate (i.e. oatmeal, brown rice, beans etc.) and 1/4 lean protein (chicken, tofu, fish, port loin and lean red meat). That's it. With your treats in order, and your plate well-designed, chances are you'll lose the weight you’d like to lose.

The best way to lose weight is to use more calories than you take in. You can do this by following a healthy eating plan and being more active. Before you start a weight-loss program, talk to your doctor.

Safe weight-loss programs that work well:

  • set a goal of slow and steady weight loss—1 to 2 pounds per week
  • offer low-calorie eating plans with a wide range of healthy foods
  • encourage you to be more physically active
  • teach you about healthy eating and physical activity
  • adapt to your likes and dislikes and cultural background
  • help you keep weight off after you lose it

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

You lose weight by first setting an attainable goal, like 10,000 steps a day and no food after 8:00 pm. Then, second, make small changes every day. It’s really true that slow and steady wins the race in weight loss. You begin with physical activity like dancing when Dr. Oz does, walking in place during the show, and doing push-ups during the commercials. Increase your activity level by making simple changes like choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator or the escalator. Find a parking space farther away from the building you wish to enter. Begin a daily walking program and increase step numbers daily until you’ve reached 10,000 or more, no excuses—just do it. Stepping 10,000 times a day is the single most important thing you can do for your health (third most important is recording your steps every day with a buddy or on a web site—overpay for a pedometer; in fact, get two so you’ll never have an excuse like I can’t find it). Walk your dog more often—he will love you more for it. After the 4th or 5th week of increased steps, begin to add in resistance and cardio work.

The fourth most important thing you can do for your health is eliminate inflammatory foods, a.k.a., the 5 Food Felons. They are: (1) saturated fat, (2) trans fat, (3) sugar, (4) syrups, especially high fructose corn syrup, and (5) any grain that isn’t whole grain. Some people include dairy, regardless of fat content, in the group of inflammatory foods.

You need support, so hang out with or organize a group of folks who also want to lose weight or are active and at a healthy weight. Find a buddy for support and to give support to if needed.

Do not expect large or fast changes. You did not gain the weight in a short period of time and you won’t lose it in a short period of time—be patient and be consistent.

Ms. Kathryne A. LeMieux
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Specialist

Make sure you have a physical and rule-out health concerns about weight gain before you take on a diet and lifestyle change. As someone whose lost a lot of weight several times, I can empathize with your concern! Sometimes there are physical reasons like thyroid or hormonal changes that your MD can diagnose and treat. They will not solve your weight problems but should be ruled out before you start your journey. I know for me, confirming there was nothing wrong with me physically, helped me to face the task head-on.

If I overeat and don't exercise, I will not lose weight. I won't feel good. I might be depressed or have no energy to do things I want. I'll age quicker and lose my youthful glow! Once I was able to take responsibility for my own weight control; I did what I had to do to have the life I wanted. Do I want to sit on the couch, watching TV, feeling sad and bored? I hope you take all the steps you need to.

You can change your life! It's never too late to make a new start and let go of every past attempt. Today truly is your first day of your life—the one you make!

Weight loss will take place when more energy is being burned than what is being consumed. In other words, you must eat less and move more to make sure you are creating a caloric deficit each day. You must burn an extra 3500 calories (in excess of what you eat) to lose a pound. An easy way to look at this is if you burn an extra 500 calories per day, you will end up losing 1 pound per week. You can achieve this 500 calorie deficit through diet, exercise, or a combination of both (which is recommended). It is recommended that individuals lose 1-2 pounds of body fat per week.

Start out by trying to keep a food log for at least a week. This will make you more aware of serving sizes and will help you see where you can start to cut calories each day. In addition, you can begin to move more. If you are new to exercise you may simply start out with a walking program and wear a pedometer with a goal of increasing your steps to 10,000 per day.

Resistance training will also be very beneficial for your weight loss. Building lean muscle mass will help you burn more calories at rest. I often recommend that weight loss clients participate in a circuit training program. Circuit training programs are resistance training exercises that a person performs one after another with little rest in between. Your heart rate will be elevated during circuit training so not only do you get the resistance training benefits, but you get a cardiovascular workout at well. This will enable you to burn even more calories.

Fitness professionals can be very helpful in designing a program that will fit your current fitness level. In addition, they can make sure you perform your exercises safely and that you are taking the necessary steps to reach your ultimate goal.

You can lose weight!

Determine why—your deep reason—for weight loss. Let this reason motivate you. Put your reason up everywhere you can see it! Never lose sight of it.

Next, make a plan. What is a healthy weight for your height and gender? Use this number to determine how much weight you need to lose. Plan a time line for your weight loss; healthy weight loss is generally around 2 pounds a week. Now figure out how many weeks it will take to reach your goal. Don't get discouraged if the destination is far off. Instead, look at it this way - the longer the journey, the more your lifestyle change will become great habits for life!

Now, take a hard look at your nutrition habits. Weight loss is simply eating less calories than you burn. Every calorie counts! Take control of what you eat. Learn how to read food labels. Inventory your pantry, empty your home of anything that will tempt you. Discipline yourself to start tracking your calories; you might be surprised at what you learn! Making small changes, like avoiding seconds, or eating smaller portions, can go a long way. 

Some tips: Substitute treats with natural sweets like oranges. Replace chips with popcorn. During meals fill up your plate with vegis before dishing up the main course. Use a smaller plate for your meals. Don't deprive yourself and don't diet! Getting really hungry may cause you to binge. Keep hunger away by drinking plenty of water, going for walks or eating crunchy vegis like carrots or cucumbers. If you must have dessert, just eat a very small portion. Know how many calories are in your snacks or treats, then think of that in terms of time on the treadmill. Two to three hours of exercise may not be worth 5 minutes of guilty pleasure!

Get moving! For the pounds to drop, fitness is just as important as nutrition. Fitness doesn't have to be a chore. Just do what you enjoy doing; whatever it takes to get your heart-rate up and your body moving! And move every day! The more you move, the more calories you burn, and the more weight you will lose.

Find an accountability partner who you trust and who will encourage you.

Celebrate bench mark victories by buying new clothes or rewarding yourself with a massage. Never use food as a reward. 

Stay with it no matter how you feel. Take responsibility! Make your choice to stick with your goals and do it! Because you can!

Losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume on a regular basis. This can done by becoming more physically active, decreasing your daily caloric intake or a combination of the two. Research shows that a combination of resistance training, cardiovascular training and nutrition is the most effective method for weight successful weight loss.

It is important to set yourself realistic goals and time frames when it comes to your weight loss. A good starting point is aiming to lose one to two pounds per week or 10% of your initial weight in six months. One pound of body fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Therefore creating a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories should result in a one to two pound weekly weight loss. Realize that weight loss will take time and commit to making lifestyle changes that you can maintain for life. There is no magic pill, fad diet or temporary exercise program that will give you long term weight loss success.

To maintain weight loss for life you need to commit to a healthier lifestyle for life by becoming more physically active, along with consuming a more nutritious diet on a daily basis. If you are new to exercise start by increasing your activities of daily living every day. For example take your dog for a walk, mow your lawn, do some yard work, play with your children or take the stairs instead of the elevator when shopping or at work. Over time you will notice that you have more energy and will be able to continue these activities for longer periods of time.

Weight loss is a journey and can sometimes be a very frustrating one. Be patient and do not give up. Surround yourself with a good support group who can help encourage you and keep you on track. Remember the most important thing when it comes to successful long term weight loss is that the positive changes you make need to be changes that stay with you for life.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Dr. Oz has a big fan and her name is Jennifer Szall. Find out how Jennifer lost 60 pounds and gained a healthier lifestyle as she talks with Dr. Oz in this video.

Losing weight is very simple: all you have to burn more calories than you take in. The main problem though is most people really don't know how many calories they are taking in even though they do exercise. Unless you know how many calories you're eating at every meal then you need to track your eating and burning. So always track everything everyday. Bottom line to lose one pound of fat you must burn 3,500 calories. So if you can keep a deficit of 500 calories day you can lose that pound of fat every week.

To successfully lose weight will require a combination of commitment a successful environment, and social support. Having a strong social network of people who will help support you in your journey through moral support, not tempting you with unhealthy food choices, and helping you with your workout  and diet goals is gonna be the key. Creating a positive environment that is conducive to diet and exercise will mean surrounding yourself with active people and healthy food choices and opportunities to exercise.  By supplying yourself with easy to eat healthy food choices and surrounding yourself with active people you will create a successful environment to eat healthy and engage in more regular physical activity. This will help lead to healthy and successful weight loss. 

A healthy weight loss rate is shedding 1.5 to 2 lbs. per week. Diet and physical activity are the two major contributors towards weight loss. My definition of successful weight loss is reducing body fat and permanently keeping the excess weight off. Losing the extra weight and obtaining your fat loss goal is only half the battle. The next step is to continue doing the things that got you to the finish line on a regular basis. Many people experience a post weight loss relapse and pack the pounds back on due to a lack of discipline and motivation.

Joining a support group or forming a camaraderie with people who have similar weight loss interest is a great way to not only successfully win the weight loss battle, but also conquer the war!

By identifying current unhealthy patterns and then making a conscious and deliberate decision to replace each, one by one, with healthy patterns that you will be able to sustain in the area of exercise, nutrition and mindset. Be clear on the reason you are working towards a healthier you and set realistic goals along the way. Focus on progress towards your goals and always remember you are making longterm lifestyle changes. The journey will not always be perfect and so don't be too hard on yourself along the way.

Joan Roth, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

To lose weight successfully, you'll need a combination of commitment to change along with a gameplan to reach your goals. And goal-setting is important! If you know what has sabotaged you in the past and you're ready to embrace long-term behavioral modification, you can lose weight successfully. A positive mindset focused on healthy living and eating rather than diet and restriction is a great place to start. Couple that with a smart exercise plan and you will be set up for a win. Becoming aware of your true caloric intake is a big step and food logging can greatly help the process along..just know how many calories you can have to reach/maintain your goals will help keep you on track. Work with a fitness professional who can perform an initial assessment and then help you create personalized and progressive exercise programs to stay active and injury-free. Commit to healthy choices and they'll last a lifetime.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.