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Weight Loss: Assess your readiness to change

Your weight-loss success depends in large part on your readiness to take on the challenge. If you jump in before you’re ready, your weight-loss plan may buckle under the first challenge. Use these questions to assess your weight-loss readiness.

1. Are you motivated to make long-term lifestyle changes?

Successful weight loss depends on permanent lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy foods and exercising more. That could represent a significant departure from your current lifestyle. Be honest. Knowing that you need to make changes in your life and actually doing it are two different things. You may have to overhaul your diet so that you’re eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, for example. You’ll also need to find time to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.

2. Have you addressed the big distractions in your life?

If you’re dealing with major life events, such as marital problems, job stress, illness or financial worries, you may not want to add the challenge of overhauling your eating and exercise habits.

3. Do you have a realistic picture of how much weight you’ll lose and how quickly?

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong process. Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. To lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day. You can do that through a low-calorie diet and regular physical activity or exercise.

4. Have you resolved any emotional issues connected to your weight?

Emotions and food are often intertwined. Anger, stress, grief and boredom can trigger emotional eating.

5. Do you have support and accountability?

Any weight-loss program can be difficult. You may face moments of temptation or become disheartened. Having someone in your corner to offer encouragement can help. If you don’t have friends or family you can rely on for positive help, consider joining a weight-loss support group.

6. Have you embraced the weight-loss challenge?

If you don’t have a positive attitude about losing weight, you may not be ready. If you dread what lies ahead, you may be more likely to find excuses to veer off course. Embrace the vision of your new lifestyle and be positive.

What if you're not ready?

If you answered no to more than one of these questions, you may not be ready to embark on a weight-loss program right now. And that’s OK. Explore what’s holding you back and face those obstacles.

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