If I've been overweight my whole life, how do I change?

Susan S. Blum, MD
Preventive Medicine
There is no quick fix. It turns out if you go on an extreme diet and lose weight quickly, your body works hard to make you gain the weight back. 

The best thing to do is to make permanent lifestyle changes that will result in a change in your inner biochemistry, which will then heal your metabolism and cause slow but steady weight loss. Because these are permanent changes, you can keep the weight off.
  • Eliminate white sugar, white flour products.
  • Reduce saturated animal fat from dairy and red meat, while increasing fish and oils from nuts and seeds.
  • Increase fiber from whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  • Incorporate stress management to reduce your cortisol levels.

How is your mindset? Do you believe you can change? If like me, and so many others I have had the privilege to work with, you have tried and failed at weight loss a countless number of times, you may feel change is not possible for you. I challenge you to let go of those thoughts and know that your past does not dictate what you are capable of. The process can begin today towards a healthier you by identifying unhealthy patterns and replacing them with new healthy ones. Take it step by step, one day at a time and focus on PROGRESS each day. It's not about perfection. Stay connected to others who make health a priority in their lives (such as this community site here) and reach out for support and inspiration often. You CAN do this! And as you do, you will become an inspiration to others around you to also improve their health.

Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine
Weight loss is always possible, although often hard -- and more so for some people than others.
Never ever you should think because you are a certain way most of your life that it will always be this way. I have found in my many years as a personal trainer it is more of lack of education than anything else. Most people just don't know what to do to lose the weight and how to keep it off.

No matter if you are a man or a woman, want to lose weight or gain weight, run a marathon or walk the neighborhood there is nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it. Bottom line -- set goals for yourself. You can't achieve anything if you don't set your mind on a goal. Get educated from a fitness professional. No matter what you see on tv or read in a magazine nothing beats meeting with a real person who has been there and done that. Also get a support group. Nothing helps you keep motivated by having friends, family or co-workers there by your side to hold you accountable. Remember no matter what the goal is you can achieve it all you have to do is put one foot forward and believe. 
Beth Oliver
Fitness
In order to lose weight and keep it off for good, you will need to make lifestyle changes that endure the test of time.

I’m a fan of the slow and steady approach. Small changes in diet and activity that create a 1 pound weight loss in a month would be sensible. I also recommend focusing in on “value” based goals rather than externally driven goals. In other words, changing your diet and increasing activity to set a good example for your family will have more impact than trying to lose weight to fit into your high school jeans.
Tina Whitlock
Fitness
You can change your life by changing your mindset and with determination, you can reach your goals. Sometimes by changing the way you word your goals can make all the difference in the world. For instance instead of saying, “I want to lose weight” try telling yourself “I want to regain my health”, instead of thinking about eating less, think about eating more. More fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains. Take small steps to increase your daily activity like parking farther away, taking stairs, and walking to work and they will all add up. And remember, be patient. Change does not happen overnight it will take time.
Weight loss is not easy -- it takes discipline, hard work, and support from family and friends. However, weight loss is possible and people defy the odds and change their lives every day. Fortunately, the law of thermodynamics can help explain how you can lose weight. This law dictates that if you burn more calories than you take in, then you will lose weight. Begin by setting a goal to losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. Losing weight anymore rapidly than this could be unhealthy and difficult to maintain. To help you visual how you can accomplish this goal, it is important to understand that there are 3,500 calories in 1 pound of fat. So, to lose 2 pounds per week you must burn 7,000 calories more than you take in, or burn about 1,000 calories per day. In order to achieve this amount of calorie burn, consider beginning an exercise program which will help you burn an extra 500 calories and a nutrition plan which cuts your calorie intake down by 500. You may want to start slowly and aim for losing one pound a week (3,500 calories) which would help to make your daily habits and goals more achievable in the beginning.

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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.