If your health care professional told you that you need to lose weight, you may want to ask for a referral to a weight-loss program, dietitian, or weight-loss specialist. You can also look for a weight-loss program on your own, but make sure you first consider talking with the health care professional about the program before you sign up, especially if you have any health problems. If you plan to lose more than 15 to 20 pounds, have any health problems, or take medication on a regular basis, talk to your doctor before you start any weight loss program.
When you're looking for a weight loss program, it's wise to look for one that will meet your needs and set you up for long-term success. In general, look for thsoe that focus on steady weight loss -- about 1-2 pounds a week.
Here are some questions that you should ask before choosing such a program, to make sure that you have found the right one for you.
To reach and stay at a healthy weight over the long term, you must focus on your overall health and lifestyle habits, not just on what you eat. Successful weight-loss programs should promote healthy behaviors that help you lose weight safely, that you can stick with every day, and that help you keep the weight off.
Safe and successful weight-loss programs should include:
The best weight-loss programs usually provide 14 sessions or more of behavioral treatment over at least 6 months—and are led by trained staff. Some weight-loss programs use very low-calorie diets to promote quick weight loss—3 or more pounds a week for several weeks—in people with a lot of excess weight. You should be monitored closely by a health care professional if you are on a very low-calorie diet that provides 800 calories a day or less.
For people who are overweight or have obesity, experts recommend a beginning weight-loss goal of 5 to 10% of your starting weight within 6 months. If you weigh 200 pounds, that would amount to a loss of 10 pounds, which is 5%t of starting weight, to 20 pounds, which is 10% of starting weight, in 6 months.
Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy, but adopting healthy habits that you don’t give up after a few weeks or months may help you maintain your weight loss.