If you are overweight or obese, you and your doctor can start immedi- ately to bring your weight down. It’s not easy to con- template making major changes in your eating and exercise habits, but it is possible—and a positive attitude is a big help. Try to drink at least eight glasses of ?uid a day; avoid calorie-laden soda, fruit juices, and alcoholic drinks. Also, eliminating extra calories by not putting sugar and cream into your coffee can help you lose weight.
Many dietary and exercise programs are available commercially. Some dieters have reported short-term success with a high-protein diet or a modi?ed high-protein diet with additional vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. In general, though, be cautious about programs that eliminate entire groups of foods other than sweets or foods high in sat- urated fat or programs that require a very abnormal diet regimen that will be hard to stick to if you travel or are sick. Some diets may alter your body chemistry and change your cholesterol levels in unwelcome ways.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, a long-term program of balanced eating is by far the best for your health.
You will be most successful at shedding excess weight and keeping it off if you think in terms of making permanent changes to become a healthier, more active person. Here are a few strategies:
1. Talk to your doctor or dietitian in detail about your eating habits—how you eat during a typical day and over the course of a week. Talk about the results of your previous efforts to lose weight. Think about what triggers that urge to overeat. Try to identify the problem areas, like that sweet roll in the morning, or crackers and cheese before dinner. Once you know your own patterns, you can start substituting healthier choices.
2. Develop an eating plan that reduces calories overall. A goal of about 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day is a good general target for weight loss. Think about how to cut down on energy-dense foods (like butter, sugar, meat, potato chips) that have lots of calories even in small amounts. Replace them with less energy-dense foods (like fruits and vegetables) that you can ?ll up on.
3. Set a realistic, measurable goal to get started. One or two pounds a week is a healthy rate at which to shed overweight. At ?rst you may lose more weight, but then a plateau period will follow in which you are still being careful and yet not losing. Continue your program of eating less and exercising more. Remember that even a relatively modest weight loss (for example, 10 pounds if

you are overweight, or 10 percent of your body weight if you are obese) can have real health bene?ts.
4. Exercise, exercise, exercise! Burning off calories is the other half of the weight-loss equation. It is very dif?cult to lose weight by diet alone; as you reduce calories, your body slows its metabolism to compensate for that. Exercise prevents that from happening and helps your body burn more calories, even at rest. Develop an enjoyable exercise plan that fits into your life. Get a friend involved to make it more fun and to bene?t both of you.
5. Become more active all day long—walk around while you talk on the telephone, take the stairs instead of an elevator, park your car in the space farthest from the supermarket, and start mowing your own lawn. Spend more time outside.
6. Set speci?c goals not just for the amount you want to lose, but for how you are going to lose weight. Make a point of eating one more serving of vegetables each day. Or, if you have not been exercising, start with one 15-minute walk each day. Using a pedometer to measure your steps will help you reach a target number every day; a minimum of 10,000 steps is recommended to keep you healthy.
7. Keep track of your progress with a food diary and a record of time spent exercising. You will be encouraged as you see your habits improve, and you can spot trouble areas or backsliding more easily.
8. About backsliding: we all do it. You can get back on track. When you feel the urge to overindulge, do something else for just 15 minutes to distract yourself. Better yet, take a brisk walk.
9. Allow occasional splurges into your life for special occasions as appropriate. The key is to consider your eating at birthday parties or weddings as an exception, not an everyday habit. The long-term key to healthy eating is moderation.