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Where to start with a weight loss program can be a challenge with the tremendous overload of diets, exercise plans, supplements and conflicting information available. It can be confusing to determine which regimen will work the best for you. However, there are a few constants when it comes to losing weight, no matter what plan you are on.


Most importantly, understand that weight loss results from a caloric deficit where you burn more calories than you take in, so the body burns fat (and sometimes muscle) for fuel. Note that slimming down takes time, and shouldn’t be rushed. Most recommendations for safe, healthy weight loss that is sustainable are 1-2 pounds per week; anything more than that is likely to be water weight and quickly regained.

To create a caloric deficit, you must eat less and move more – there’s nothing magical about this. The combination of a healthy diet and consistent exercise is most effective; if you do just one or the other, weight loss will be slower and more difficult to attain.

Finally, beware of quick fixes that promise quick, easy weight loss simply by taking a supplement, exercising two minutes per day or eating only one type of food. These are unhealthy and can be unsafe – in addition to ineffective.

Whatever program you choose, it should include these basics:


  • Reduce portions – Americans tend to favor huge portion sizes. Cut back on everything you eat to restrict calories immediately.
  • Emphasize fruit and vegetables – These tend to have the least calories and are loaded with nutrients. Plus, there’s a variety to choose from.
  • Choose whole grains – Add fiber with whole grain breads and pastas.
  • Eat lean protein – Protein fills you up for longer than carbs or fat, so choose lean meats, poultry, seafood, yogurt, cheese, eggs, beans and nuts.
  • Cut liquid calories — All calories count, whether they come from coffee drinks, juice, smoothies, soda or alcohol. Limit your intake of liquid calories, as they typically don’t fill up your body. Drink more water (flavor it with lemon or lime or cucumber if you prefer) instead to stay hydrated and stave off hunger.
  • Limit treats – Skip fattening cookies, donuts, chips, fried foods and more, as these are high in calories and fat. Make treats small, and a rare indulgence – and not an everyday reality.


  1. Schedule workouts – Commit to exercise and put it in your calendar at least 3-6 times weekly to lose weight. You will never “find” the time.
  2. Incorporate cardiovascular activity – Cardio is key for burning calories, and you have to get your heart rate elevated ideally for 20-60 minutes per session. Choose to jog, do the elliptical, ride a stationary bike, take on the rower, try the stairclimber or swim laps, for example.
  3. Strength train – To build muscles and boost your metabolism, you must work against resistance, using dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, body weight and more. Work the major muscle groups and the core for 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. This will result in burning more calories even at rest, and creates a toned appearance.
  4. Pursue flexibility – While stretching isn’t a big calorie-burner itself, it helps relieve tightness and soreness, increases range of motion and can reduce risk of injury so you can keep exercising. Yoga is a great way to increase flexibility.
  5. Stay consistent – If you have to skip a workout, make it up as soon as you can. Don’t beat yourself up or quit. And if you’re short on time, any exercise is better than none. It all adds up, so keep moving.