Weight loss: Ready to change your habits?Are you motivated to lose weight? Is your weight-loss goal realistic? Answer these questions and more to make sure you're ready to start a weight-loss program — and know what steps to take if you aren't quite there.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Your weight-loss success depends in large part on your readiness to take on the challenge. If you jump in before you're ready, your weight-loss plan might buckle under the first challenge.
Use these questions to assess your weight-loss readiness.
1. Are you motivated to make long-term lifestyle changes?
Successful weight loss depends on permanent lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy foods and including physical activity in your daily routine. That could represent a significant departure from your current lifestyle.
Knowing that you need to make changes in your life and actually doing it are two different things. You might need to overhaul your diet so that you're eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, for example. You'll also need to find time for physical activity, ideally at least 30 to 45 minutes — or more — nearly every day of the week.
Whether your motivation for undertaking these changes is better health, improved appearance or simply feeling better about yourself, find your motivation and focus on it.
2. Have you addressed the big distractions in your life?
If you're dealing with major life events, such as marital problems, job stress, illness or financial worries, you might not want to add the challenge of overhauling your eating and exercise habits. Instead, consider giving your life a chance to calm down before you launch your weight-loss program.
3. Do you have a realistic picture of how much weight you'll lose and how quickly?
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong process. Start by making sure your weight-loss goal is safe and realistic — such as losing 10 percent of your current weight. Then aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week until you reach your goal. This means burning 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day — through diet, exercise or both.
You might lose weight more quickly if you change your habits significantly. Be careful, though. Radical changes that aren't sustainable aren't likely to be effective over the long term.
April 27, 2013
See more In-depth
- Do you know your health risks for being overweight? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/health_risks.htm. Accessed Feb. 4, 2013.
- Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: The evidence report. Bethesda, Md.: National Institutes of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.htm. Accessed Feb. 4, 2013.
- Hensrud DD, ed. Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medication Education and Research; 2005:25.
- Hensrud DD, et al. The Mayo Clinic Diet. Intercourse, Pa.: Good Books; 2010:10.