Keep your eyes on the weight-loss prize. Many people rolled out of bed this week determined to kick-start the new year by losing weight
Many people rolled out of bed this week determined to kick-start the new year by losing weight.
Some want to shed pounds because they're on the brink of developing type 2 diabetes, their knees hurt or their blood pressure is too high. Others want their clothes to fit less snugly. Still others were shocked by the number on the bathroom scale.
If you are one of these people, experts have some helpful advice to get you started.
Research shows that no one motivation is better than another in determining success, says Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia. The key is to find the right motivation for you so you do the "hard work" involved in losing weight, he says. "It could be 100 different things."
Throughout your efforts, you have to keep that motivation front and center and remind yourself of why you are doing this, he says.
Sometimes people are gung-ho in the beginning, especially after they lose 10 to 15 pounds, but then their interest starts to wane when they have to work harder and consume fewer calories to keep on losing, Foster says.
If you lose 10% of your body weight, you need to consume 10% fewer calories than you were eating to maintain that lower weight, he says.
When you hit a bump in the road, don't let it get you down, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago and blogger at yourlife.usatoday.com.
Learn from it, think through how to do it better next time and move on, she says. People who just beat themselves up when they don't do well lose their motivation end up quitting, she says.
Here are some keys to success:
•Keep a food journal. Research shows dieters who keep a journal lose twice as much weight as those who don't. If after a few months you get tired of it, then at least try to write down your intake at the times of day that you're mostly likely to eat too much, Foster says.
•Step on the scale regularly. Weigh yourself at least once week and no more than once a day, he says.
•Get a weight-loss buddy. This might be your significant other, a co-worker, a registered dietitian, a family member or a friend, Blatner says. Your buddy can offer encouragement, try new recipes with you and exercise with you.
•Set realistic goals. Blatner advises aiming to lose half a pound to 2 pounds a week. If you're not losing that much, look for "calorie sabotages," such as big portions, sweets, sugary beverages and alcoholic drinks, she says.
She recommends aiming to lose 5% of your starting weight in three months and 10% in six months. "At that point, you can reassess if you want to continue to put more effort into weight loss. Even weight maintenance is hard work."WEIGHT LOSS