Quick Tips for Your Weight Loss Success

Facts at your fingertips

• Know your BMI. Your BMI, or body mass index, is a way to gauge whether your weight is healthy, and knowing your number can help you determine whether or not you need to lose weight. The simple calculation takes into account both your height and weight, which is why most experts consider this a better guideline than the old "ideal body weight" tables.

• Look to your resources. Information can be your weight-loss ally. Find answers to your questions, locate medical specialists, or do some research into permanent, healthy weight loss. Surf the web, pick up some new books, or check out a videos.

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• Is medication right for you? Maybe. For people who are clinically obese and have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight before, prescription drugs may help. In particular, drugs are an option to consider when a weight problem is compounded by other health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Talk to your doctor; to get more information on weight-loss drugs right now.

• Know an apple from a pear. People tend to put on weight in certain places. Some of us accumulate fat around the middle -- an apple shape. Others gain pounds around the hips and lower body -- think of a pear. In general, being pear-shaped brings less health risks than looking like an apple.

Lifestyle changes

• Make healthy choices the rule. The decisions you make all day and all week have an impact on your weight. Simple changes such as swapping lunch with a friend for an exercise date and always bringing a pair of walking shoes whenever you travel can turn you into a naturally lean person.

• Plan ahead for successful weight loss. Losing weight doesn't just happen. Planning ahead -- from choosing a meaningful start date to getting a physical exam and learning to counter would-be diet saboteurs -- makes the best weight-loss strategy even better.

• Add some activity. There's no getting around it: if you need to lose weight, you need to get moving. Changing your eating habits alone just isn't enough. And the benefits of moderate exercise are pretty impressive. Simply increasing the amount of activity you get every day can improve your sex life, lower your risk of stroke, and even improve your memory.

• Make your own way to weight loss. Instead of constant dieting, stop and listen to yourself. You may find that outside of the dieting mindset, food can be a friend instead of an enemy. Jean Antonello did just that and lost 30 pounds, which she has never gained back.

Take active steps

• Don't "diet." Most of the eating plans referred to as "diets" aren't designed for long-term weight loss. If you want to slim down for good, think of eating in a whole new way. For example, focus on what you can eat, instead of what you can't. And aim for gradual success rather than overnight skinniness.

• Stay the course when dining out. Don't let restaurant dining be an excuse to throw in the towel. Choose from cuisines that are typically lower in fat such as Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese. Opt for vegetarian dishes, or order grilled fish instead of steak. And ask waiters about "hidden" high-calorie ingredients such as cheese, oil, or butter.

• Institute a ban on all excuses. We've all made excuses for avoiding exercise, eating that last cookie, or putting off weight loss for "just one more week." Unfortunately, rationalizing won't get you any closer to your goal.

• Get the facts on weight-loss supplements. Drugstore shelves overflow with tempting weight-loss aids promising a quick fix to your extra five or 10 pounds. But not all commercial supplements aimed at weight loss are effective -- or safe. Protect your health by choosing wisely, and get the facts before swallowing any pill or drinking any tea.

• Aim for your optimal heart rate during exercise. When working out, you'll want to keep your number of heartbeats within a certain range -- too low means you're not working hard enough, too high is too strenuous. Get the most from exercise, safely.

• Head off childhood obesity. Overweight kids are likely to become overweight adults. Parents can help by gauging portion sizes, offering healthy snacks, and encouraging activity.

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