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Key Points for Safe Weight Loss

When Ready to Lose Weight:

  • Set a reasonable weight loss goal. Start by trying to lose no more than 5 - 10 pounds.  Why? because this is a reasonable weight loss goal and your chances of succeeding at it are high. When you have successfully lost the first 5 - 10 pounds, work on the next 5 - 10 pounds.
  • Lose weight at a safe rate. Losing weight too quickly can cause gallstones, electrolyte imbalances, loss of heart muscle, heart attack and even death. A reasonable rate of weight loss for adults is ½ - 4 pounds per week or 2 - 12 pounds per month. The exception to this rule is in the first 4 - 6 weeks when water weight is lost. Some people lose more than 4 pounds per week during this phase, but after the first 6 weeks, weight loss should slow down to 2 - 12 pounds per month.
  • Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to lose weight. No one said you had to lose all the extra weight immediately. It probably took a few years to put the weight on. Give yourself a few years to take it back off.
  • Find the weight loss approach(es) that work best for you. There are many different ways to lose weight. Some people simply need to reduce snacking or change to low calorie beverages. Others may need to use meal replacers, weight loss medications or calorie-restricted diets. See the other handouts in this series for more information. Find the methods that work best for you.
  • Make eating and lifestyle changes gradually. Start with simple changes. Then take the more difficult changes and try to break them into small steps.  Pick a few of those small steps to work on each year. In a few years, you may be surprised at how much progress you have made.
  • If you fall off the wagon, get back on. Do not be discouraged if you overeat or stop following you weight loss plan. Get back to it as soon as you comfortably can. It is what you do over the long run that counts.
  • Make a plan for keeping the weight off. There is no point in losing weight if you put it right back on again. People who have been successful at keeping the weight off do the following things. They:
    • Eat home prepared food for almost all of their meals.
    • Eat breakfast.
    • Eat diets moderately low in fat.
    • Are physically active almost every day of the week
    • Weigh themselves frequently. If they gain extra weight, they take steps right away to lose it and to prevent small gains in weight from becoming larger.