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First Things First: Take the First Steps Toward Losing Weight

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Updated February 15, 2014


If you have found yourself resolving to lose weight this year, you are certainly not alone. According to recent statistics, more than half of Americans are overweight and at any given time, around 80 percent of those people are on a diet.

If you're planning to try one of the myriad weight loss plans on the market, you may be feeling a little uneasy about now. There are so many choices today (and so many opinions) that the thought of finding the one that's right for you can be overwhelming.

Before you begin the decision making process, there are a few things you should know and do.

    What's Up, Doc?

    First up, you should make an appointment with your health care professional before starting any weight loss program. Chances are your doctor will have some good advice for you.

    Calories Still Count

    Most likely, your doctor will say the best way for you to lose weight is to cut calories where you can and to be more physically active.

    Your doctor may also suggest a wellness program that incorporates exercise or maybe a consultation with a dietitian or nutritionist.

    Put it in Writing

    Keeping a food diary is often recommended as a first step towards weight management by health and nutrition professionals. It is an excellent way to assess your habits (both good and bad) and find trouble spots where changes need to be made.

    How High are Health Concerns?

    If your doctor is more concerned about your health being impacted by your weight, or, you have a high amount of weight to lose, he may suggest more intensive measures such as prescription medications or weight loss surgery.

    Do Your Homework

    You should take plenty of time to research these methods, as they carry significant risk factors and ultimately it is up to you -- the patient -- to decide if the potential risks outweigh the benefits.

    If you are ready to take the first step towards joining a weight loss program, pat yourself on the back. The first step is often the most difficult.

    You Better Shop Around

    But before you sign on the dotted line, you need to arm yourself by being a savvy shopper and knowing the right questions to ask. After all, you're the customer and before you fork over your cash, you need to know exactly what you'll be getting in return.

    Here are some easy initial questions to ask:

    • What is involved in following this program?
    • How many calories will I consume daily?
    • Are any foods "forbidden" or "bad?"
    • What types of foods will I be eating most often?
    • Does the plan include physical activity?
    • Is the food plan permanent or does it change as I lose weight?

    Getting the answers to these questions will give you some idea of what day-to-day eating will be like on the program. Be sure to ask any questions that come to mind and don't be afraid to take notes. Examine the answers for anything that appears to be questionable.

    Examples of red flags are the permanent exclusion of entire food groups, herbal supplements that "must" be included for the plan to work; or too few calories (Most people can lose weight eating around 1,500 calories a day. If you're advised to consume less than that, do not follow it with your doctor's approval).

    Also be on the lookout for the omission of exercise. Any sensible weight loss plan should encourage increased physical activity.


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