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The weight loss industry and even the medical community is rife with conflicting suggestions for how best to lose weight. I know how overwhelming it is to pick a program that will be successful and sustainable. Recent studies have shown that programs may differ in short term results but have similar long-term results. The good news is with an honest look at your food preferences and lifestyle, you can find a program that will work for you. Consideration of underlying health conditions is important. Having a routine physical and lab work is a great start to any program.

Set Realistic Goals

A general guideline is a goal of 0.5-1.0 pounds lost per week. Faster results are typically achieved with super strict plans that leave you hangry and primed to regain weight. Look at the recommended grocery shopping list and food choices. If you can't readily identify multiple things that you will realistically eat, chances are it's going to be difficult to sustain the diet long enough to see results. Also consider preparation time, some of the stricter diets/programs need a LOT. This can be difficult depending on your schedule and if you're feeding and preparing meals for others.

Pay Attention to Total Calories

A consistent guideline is the importance of the quantity and quality of calories you consume. You can easily undo your hard work not being mindful of your total calories, so tracking what you consume is integral to success. Minimize intake of white carbs and starches, refined sugars, processed foods, sodas and juice. More fruits and vegetables balanced with quality protein sources and good fats are simple goals that would benefit everyone.

Get Moving

Workouts don’t have to leave you shaking and lightheaded, even walking is a simple and effective form of exercise. A goal of 30 minutes per day on most days of the week is recommended. It’s very important to assess your baseline fitness level and work your way up to more demanding activities and workouts. When the weather doesn't want to cooperate and even indoor options are limited, workouts to do in your home are widely available and very effective. While there are many high-quality programs you can pay for, there's also hundreds of free videos on platforms such as YouTube that offer a wide variety of options regardless of your fitness level or style of exercise you enjoy.

Weigh-in Regularly

Although opinions differ, I'm a proponent of weighing yourself once a week at approximately the same time of day in the same amount of clothes. There is some benefit in weighing yourself daily, but I find it can be very discouraging because normal fluctuations in daily weight can easily leave you feeling defeated and then more likely to return to old habits.

Give Yourself Time to Succeed

Like any other habit, changing how you eat and your activity level takes time. You need about 3 weeks to make new healthier choices into habits and get into a new mindset. Most programs really need six to eight weeks to start seeing results.

The keys to success with a healthier lifestyle really are consistency, moderation and enjoyment. Remember your medical provider is available to answer questions, provide guidance, and partner with you on whichever path your journey takes you.