Some of us may well be on our way to a healthier life, others may still be struggling with that "getting started" stage of weight loss.
I found this information and thought it may be helpful.
Step 1: Make a commitment
Making a firm commitment is a critical first step toward successful weight loss. Take advantage of the interest you have in losing weight today. Don't say, "I'll start after the holidays," or "One of these days I'll be ready."
•Put your plans in writing.
•Do something today to get started -- buy new exercise shoes or a low-fat cookbook, take a walk, or rid your pantry of fatty foods. Every step counts.
•Involve your partner, family, or a good friend in your weight-loss plans. When your goals are known, you'll get more support and encouragement -- and fewer complaints about ricotta ravioli or tofu stir-fry at dinnertime.
Step 2: Set realistic goals
Simply put, the difference between your current weight and your ideal weight range should be your ultimate weight-loss goal. Since your ideal weight is a range, you might aim anywhere from the top end of the range to the middle. Anywhere in the range is fine; getting into the range is the most important thing.
Once you know how much you want to lose, you can set your goals. Losing one pound a week -- and keeping it off -- with sensible eating and exercise is probably a realistic goal. Dropping three dress or suit sizes in two weeks isn't. Fad diets and diet pills will promise you incredible effects in a short time, but the results rarely last, and the process of losing weight quickly could even be hazardous to your health. Some studies have shown that weight cycling -- losing a lot of weight over a short time and gaining it back – can be even worse for you than being overweight. The key to losing weight safely and permanently is deciding on a few simple lifestyle changes and sticking with them.
You may want to break your weight loss goal down into smaller, more achievable goals. If your ultimate goal is fifty pounds, it may be more practical and less discouraging to focus on losing ten pounds at first. Once you've reached that goal, set another ten pound goal.
Step 3: Plan how to reach your goal
The reason most people gain weight is quite simple -- they eat more calories than they burn. So to lose weight, you need to reduce the number of calories you eat, and increase the number you burn. That way, you'll use up energy stored in your fatty tissue to make up the difference.
There are two ways to find out how many calories you should eat to lose weight:
•Find out what you're eating now by keeping a food diary for a week or two -- or fill it in for the past several days if you can remember what you ate. Then, figure out how you could reduce your daily calories by 500. (If you're on a reduced calorie regimen already and have reached a plateau in your weight loss, it may be unwise to reduce your calorie intake further. Try increasing your exercise level instead.)
•Calculate the number of calories you should be eating if you're trying to lose weight.
Next, you'll need to figure out how to reduce your daily calories to the number you're targeting. For this, you'll need a meal plan, so you can train yourself to know what 1,500 calories per day looks like (instead of 2,000 or more). Think about the kinds of food you like to eat over the course of a day, and find out how many calories are in each serving. Then add them up, and you'll have a list of foods and drinks with the total calories. You might need to add or subtract a little until you reach your daily calorie goal. When you have something usable, print it out. Now, try different combinations of foods for different days of the week. That's it, you've learned how to make a meal plan!
Once you've calculated how many calories you need to take in and what kinds of foods will add up to the right number, you can work on the other part of the formula: the number of extra calories you should burn. Exercising for as little 30 minutes at a time, three to six times a week, can make a big difference -- you'll feel stronger and have more energy. In addition, exercise is proven to help prevent heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and many other illnesses.
Choose your favorite activity -- walking briskly for 45 minutes a day is good for weight loss. Writing down what you do and when will help you stay motivated. The important thing at this point is to get into the habit of exercising regularly. Don't push yourself so hard that you give up entirely.
Step 4: Put it all together in a weight-loss plan
Now that you know where you're headed and how to get there, write yourself a road map -- a weight-loss plan. This will also serve as a "contract" with yourself so you remember what you promised yourself. [/i/
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