Weight loss: Ready to change your habits?
Are you motivated to lose weight? Is your goal realistic? Answer these questions and more to make sure you're ready to start a weight-loss program — and 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.
Knowing that you need to make changes in your life and actually doing it are two different things.
Use these questions to assess your readiness to lose weight.
1. Are you motivated to make long-term lifestyle changes?
Successful weight loss depends on permanent lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, lower calorie foods and including physical activity in your daily routine. That could represent a significant departure from your current lifestyle.
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 5 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 and exercise.
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.
4. Have you resolved any emotional issues connected to your weight?
Emotions and food are often intertwined. Anger, stress, grief and boredom can trigger emotional eating. If you have a history of an eating disorder, weight loss can be even trickier.
To prepare for the challenges, identify any emotional issues related to food. Talk to your doctor or a mental health provider, if needed.
April 26, 2016
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- Do you know some of the health risks of being overweight? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/health_risks_being_overweight/Pages/health-risks-being-overweight.aspx. Accessed Feb. 29, 2016.
- Jensen MD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Circulation. 2014;129:S102.
- AskMayoExpert. Weight management (adult). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Hensrud DD, et al. The Mayo Clinic Diet. Boston, Mass.: De Capo Press; 2010.