If you have been diagnosed with overweight and obesity, it is important that you continue your treatment. Read about tips to help you aim for a healthy weight, the benefit of finding and continuing a behavioral weight-loss program, and ways your doctor may monitor if your condition is stable, worsening, or improving and assess your risk for complications.
Changing lifestyle habits takes time and patience. Follow these tips to help you maintain the healthy lifestyle changes your doctor recommended to aim for a healthy weight.
- Use our Daily Food and Activity Diary or the United States Department of Agriculture’s online SuperTracker to record your daily food intake and physical activity. You, your doctor, or health care provider can use this diary to monitor your progress.
- Set specific goals. An example of a specific goal is to “walk 30 minutes, 5 days a week". Be realistic about your time and abilities.
- Set doable goals that don’t change too much at once. Consecutive goals that can move you ahead in small steps, are the best way to reach a distant point. When starting a new lifestyle, try to avoid changing too much at once. Slow changes lead to success. Remember, quick weight loss methods do not provide lasting results.
- Learn from your slips. Everyone slips, especially when learning something new. Don’t worry if work, the weather, or your family causes you to have an occasional slip. Remember that changing your lifestyle is a long-term process. Find out what triggered the slip and restart your eating and physical activity plan.
- Celebrate your success. Reward yourself along the way as you meet your goals. Instead of eating out to celebrate your success, try a night at the movies, go shopping for workout clothes, visit the library or bookstore, or go on a hike.
- Identify temptations. Learn what environments or social activities, such as watching TV or going out with friends, may be keeping you from meeting your goals. Once you have identified them, use creative strategies to help keep you on track.
- Plan regular physical activity with a friend. Find a fun activity that you both enjoy, such as Zumba, jogging, biking or swimming. You are more likely to stick with that activity if you and a friend have committed to it.
Visit More Information for important NHLBI resources to help you aim for a healthy weight.
Find and continue a behavioral weight-loss program
Some people find it is easier to aim and maintain a healthy weight when they have support from a weight-loss specialist or other individuals who also are trying to lose weight. Behavioral weight-loss programs can provide this support, and they can help you set goals that are specific to your needs. Your weight-loss specialist usually reviews or modifies your goals every six months based on your progress and overall health.
When you are choosing a behavioral weight-loss program, you may want to consider whether the program should:
- offer the service of multiple professionals, such as registered dietitians, doctors, nurses, psychologists, and exercise physiologists.
- provide goals that have been customized for you that consider things such as the types of food you like, your schedule, your physical fitness, and your overall health.
- provide individual or group counseling to help you change your eating patterns and personal unhealthy habits.
- teach long-term strategies to deal with problems that can lead to future weight gain, such as stress or slipping back into unhealthy habits.
When selecting a program, you may want to ask about:
- the percentage of people who complete the program.
- the average weight loss for people who finish the program.
- possible side effects.
- fees or costs for additional items such as dietary supplements.
Monitoring your condition and its health risks
You should visit your health care provider periodically to monitor for possible complications, which if left untreated can be life-threatening. Your doctor may do any of the following to monitor your condition.
- Assess your weight loss since your last visit. A weight loss of approximately five percent in an overweight patient may improve the function of the fat tissue and help lower bad cholesterol and other substances that can predispose to complications.
- Measure your waist circumference if you are an adult. If your waist circumference is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men, you may be at risk for heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes. South Asians and South and Central Americans have a higher risk of complications, so waist circumference should be smaller than 35 for man and 31 for women. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hip bones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out. Visit Assessing Your Weight for more information.
- Order blood tests to screen for complications. A lipid panel test can check if you have high cholesterol or triglyceride levels in your blood. A liver function test can determine if your liver is working properly. A fasting glucose test can find out if you have prediabetes or diabetes.