What Strategies Can I Use to Lose Weight?

By Bobbie Hasselbring

Weight-Loss Tips

Use these strategies to help make your efforts at weight loss a success.
  • Have a plan.
    • Set realistic goals.
    • Lose weight slowly.
  • Start changing what you eat and how often you exercise.
    • Increase your daily activity level.
    • Make some cuts in calories.
    • Pay attention to portion size.
  • Think about what you can always do.
    • Avoid fad diets.
    • Work toward permanent behavior change.
  • Get help where you need it.
    • Cope with your feelings without using food.
    • Ask for support.

Shedding pounds can be a real challenge. It takes time and ongoing effort. But with the right approach, you can do it. You can help set yourself up for success by following these strategies. The first step is to have a plan that will work. You need to set realistic goals and have a program that will help you lose slowly and consistently.

Set Realistic Goals

The first step in any successful weight-loss program is to set realistic goals. Realistic goals are ones you can actually reach. You may dream of losing 50 pounds and fitting into that old prom dress. A more realistic goal might be to lose 5, 10, or even 15 pounds and to keep it off. Even a weight loss of 5% to 10% can improve your health, reduce your cholesterol, and decrease your risk for heart disease. Once you've met your initial goal, you can always set a new goal to lose a little more weight.

For starters, aim to lose no more than 10% of your starting weight. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, losing 10% of your weight would mean losing 15 pounds. Losing 5% would be half of that or 7.5 pounds. Remember, any weight loss, no matter how small, is moving you in the right direction.

Also, be specific in setting your goals. Rather than saying you will "lose weight" or "exercise more," pick targets, such as "eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables" and "exercise 30 minutes three times a week."

Lose Weight Slowly

You didn't put on your excess weight overnight. It'll take some time to lose it. The safest and most effective way to lose weight is slowly and steadily. Aim for losing about 1 pound a week. Very rapid weight loss and extreme low-calorie diets, such as 500 to 800 calories per day, don't work for long-term weight loss. They can even be dangerous. Losing weight too rapidly often causes loss of muscle and water rather than fat. It also increases the risk for developing gallstones, gout, and nutritional deficiencies. The weight quickly returns as soon as you stop restricting your calories so much.