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.

5. Do you have support and accountability?

Any weight-loss program can be difficult. You might face moments of temptation or become disheartened. Having someone in your corner to offer encouragement can help. If you don't have friends or loved ones you can rely on for positive help, consider joining a weight-loss support group.

If you want to keep your weight-loss efforts private, be prepared to be accountable to yourself with regular weigh-ins and a log of your diet and activity. You might also want to consider joining an online program or using a certified health coach.

6. Have you embraced the weight-loss challenge?

If you don't have a positive attitude about losing weight, you might not be ready — and if you dread what lies ahead, you might be more likely to find excuses to veer off course.

Instead, try to embrace the vision of your new lifestyle and remain positive. Focus on how good you'll feel when you're more active or when you weigh less. Picture yourself celebrating every success along the way, whether it's enjoying a new food, finishing another exercise session or losing your first few pounds.

Your results: Ready or not?

Think about your responses to the questions above:

  • Did you answer yes to all or most of the questions? You're probably ready to make the lifestyle changes that'll support permanent weight loss. Forge ahead with a healthy diet and regular physical activity — starting today! If you think you need help, consult a dietitian or enroll in a reputable weight-loss program. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, you might benefit from medically supervised weight loss with a team of health professionals — such as a dietitian, a therapist or an obesity specialist.
  • Did you answer no to more than one of the questions? You might not be ready to embark on a weight-loss program right now - and that's OK. Explore what's holding you back and face those obstacles. Consider seeking help from your doctor or another professional, such as a certified wellness coach, to help you work through these issues. Then re-evaluate your readiness for weight loss so that you can get started on the path to a healthier weight.

If you couldn't answer all of the questions with a simple yes or no but you feel generally positive about most of your answers and you're upbeat about a weight-loss program, consider starting now. You might never have definitive answers in life. Don't let that rob you of a chance to achieve your weight-loss goals.

Apr. 27, 2013 See more In-depth