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How can I lose weight successfully?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.
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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!

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 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.

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.

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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!

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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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.