Getting Started Losing Weight

Losing weight can be a daunting challenge. Having the willpower to stick with it is only part of the problem. You’ve first got to choose a diet plan from the myriad options available. There are shelves full of books, hours of infomercials and countless websites all devoted to promoting specific approaches and programs. But before you’re able to select the diet that’s right for you, it’s important that understand the basics.

Why lose weight?

Apart from any other reason you might have for wanting to lose weight, there are numerous health benefits that result from shedding excess pounds. Health professionals tell us that losing even small amounts of weight can have a positive impact on factors such as our cholesterol and blood pressure levels. If you already have medical problems, your doctor might have advised you to lose weight. But even if you currently do not have problems, you could be at risk for future health challenges. Losing weight now is an effective preventative health measure that you should not overlook.

Improved quality of life

Research has also found that people who lose weight report having fewer limiting disabilities, and they experience improvements in overall quality of life. Some of the improvements include decreased anxiety and depression and a more positive self-image.

What does losing weight mean?

When we go on a diet, we lose weight in three ways. We lose muscle, water and fat. Ideally, we want to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss, since muscle burns more calories than fat does. Different diets promote varying rates of muscle loss compared to fat loss. But the basic formula is to take in less energy than your metabolism requires. Do that and you will lose weight. Do the opposite and you will gain weight.

Develop healthy habits

However, losing weight through dieting is only part of the story. Keeping it off through permanent lifestyle changes is the other. This requires improvements in eating habits and exercise patterns. It is the only way to achieve lasting weight loss success. The American Dietetic Association recommends making small changes every day. Over time, these changes will become habits, and you’re on your way to achieving a healthy weight you that you can maintain. Here are some things to try:

  • Add a low-fat dairy product to your diet every day. Options include an 8 ounce glass of skim milk or one cup of yogurt.
  • Add 2 servings of vegetables and fruits to your meals. The vegetables can be eaten in a side salad, while the fruit can be eaten for dessert.
  • Don’t forget your whole grains. Eat 3 whole grain products daily. Options include whole wheat breads for sandwiches and a serving of popcorn for a snack.

Become more active

Exercise is not essential to losing weight. But your chances of succeeding increase dramatically due to the extra calories you will burn — and you will also do your heart a great favor. The American Dietetic Association advises building physical activity into your daily routine. That way, if you’re too busy to hit the gym, you’ll still get a healthy amount of exercise.

Try walking to and from work, or going for walks during breaks. Get others to join you and make it a social activity. Before long, you’ll start looking forward to these daily activities, and you’ll feel disappointed when your schedule doesn’t permit them. Recent studies show that daily physical activity provides many benefits beyond burning calories. Exercise improves sleep, revives stress and makes you feel good about yourself.

Why follow a structured weight-loss program?

The truth is, you don’t need to follow a specific diet or join a weight-loss program to lose weight. If you adopt basic healthy eating habits and get a moderate amount of exercise daily, you’ll begin shedding your excess pounds and they will stay off. However, eating right and getting the correct amount of exercise is easier said than done. Often, people perform better in their dieting and are more successful at achieving their goals if they have a structured weight-loss plan.
In 2001, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a study that found that dieters who were given a “structured behavioral treatment program with weekly contact and individualized feedback had better weight loss compared with those given links to educational Web sites.”

Where to start?

If you think you would benefit from a structured weight loss program, you need to start by doing your homework. There’s much to learn and many different programs to consider. Keep in mind that a diet plan worked for somebody else might not work for you. Don’t buy the first program you see based on reading the upbeat testimonials. Go beneath the surface to ensure the program meets all your needs. Does it offer: Recipes? Sample menus? Workout plans? Access to nutrition and exercise professionals? An online support community?

On this website, you will find reviews of many structured weight-loss programs. In most cases, they are well known programs, so you’ll probably be familiar with the names. Our reviewers are not affiliated with any weight loss programs. Their reviews are objective and honest attempts to explain how these programs work and what is good and bad about them.

Good luck!

We wish you all the best in your efforts to lose weight and improve your overall health. Don’t be discouraged if your journey isn’t a straight line to success. When you suffer a setback, pick yourself up and keep going. You can do it — and you’ll be glad you did.