Healthy Weight Loss

Successful weight management is a long-term way of life, not a “quick-fix.” It takes commitment to make eating and behavior changes to maintain weight loss. Use the following tips to get started on the healthy way to long-term weight loss.

Do it for yourself

Losing weight to please someone else is a losing battle. You must want to do it for yourself, for your own health and well-being. Only by doing it for yourself will you be committed to making the lifestyle changes necessary for long-term weight loss.

Set realistic goals

While you might want to lose 40 pounds, it will not be easy to reach that goal in a short time period. Instead, look to smaller weight loss goals over short periods of time that are realistic and attainable. Even a 5 to 10 pound weight loss can bring major physical and psychological benefits.

Start slowly and think long-term

It takes time to change habits! Be patient! Consider making only one or two changes each month. Start by choosing something easy for you to accomplish. For example, if you normally drink four regular sodas per day, reduce your consumption to one or two per day, or switch to diet soda. Making small changes will add up to big benefits over time.

Don’t deprive yourself

Giving up your favorite but-not-so-healthy foods is a sure way to fail. Instead, learn to eat them less often and in smaller amounts.

Start exercising and make it a routine

Exercising on a routine basis 30-45 minutes a day will help you lose weight and once you’ve reached your goal, will help you keep it off. Look for ways to increase your daily activity level. For example, take the stairs rather than the elevator, park further from the store in the parking lot, or do your own house or yard work.


Your Weight Loss Plan Options

Here are three ways to achieve the weight loss you desire:

  1. Do it on your own
  2. Enlist the aid of a Registered Dietitian
  3. Join a commercial program

Doing It on Your Own

Achieving weight loss on your own requires a certain amount of discipline. Using the MyPlate website to guide you, you can manage the calories you consume and ensure that you get a healthy balance of foods. One size doesn’t fit all since the number of calories and portions you need from every food group depends on your age, your gender, size, and how active your are. The website has a number of tools like the MyPyramid Tracker and the MyPyramid Menu Planner to help you personalize a plan just for you.

The key to a healthy diet is to eat foods from all the groups, but eat fewer servings, with caution about adding fats such as butter, margarine, salad dressing, etc., which add lots of calories. Combine this with regular physical activity and you can expect to lose about ½ to 2 pounds per week – a safe rate of weight loss.

For most people, eating between 1,400 to 1,600 calories with foods from each food group on the website is a good way to start a healthy weight loss plan.

You’ll be most successful if you measure your servings of food, whenever possible. will help you keep from overestimating, or even underestimating, the size of your portion.

Enlist the Aid of a Registered Dietitian

What is a registered dietitian (R.D.)?

The letters "R.D." after a person’s name signify that she/he has completed academic and experience requirements. These are established by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for American Dietetic Association, and include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college/university, or equivalent, and an approved pre-professional experience program.

R.D.s demonstrate their knowledge of food and nutrition by successfully passing a national credentialing exam and by completing ongoing continuing professional development.

What can seeing a registered dietitian do for me?

A registered dietitian, someone who is educated, trained, and certified in nutrition, can help you get on the right track to good health. The dietitian will assist you in developing an eating plan that you can live with – one that is focused on the long term, not just a current weight loss effort.

Working with you in a private, one-on-one situation, the dietitian’s recommended plan will take into account your individual needs, your medical history, family situation, your eating and exercising habits, food preferences, travel and dining out routines, and quite importantly, your budget.

Join a Commercial Program

Is a commercial weight loss program right for you? The following questions will help you evaluate programs you are considering. Answering “yes” to most of these questions will increase your chances for long-term weight loss.

Are you ready to lose weight and keep it off for better health?
Do you understand the program’s format?

Does it require group meetings or counseling? Must you buy their prepackaged foods or can you purchase supermarket foods?

Does the diet include all the food groups, every day?

If not, it’s not healthful.

If the program includes prepackaged food, is it tasty and can you afford it?

Sample it first. If that’s not allowed, don’t join.

Does the program fit your lifestyle?

If you travel or socialize a lot, take that into consideration.

Do you know the total cost of the program?

Shedding 25 pounds could cost more than $1,000 on some programs and less than $50 on others.

Will the plan help you make positive behavior changes?

A good program teaches you how to live a healthier lifestyle and provides on-going support for maintaining weight loss.

Does the program encourage a safe, personalized exercise program?

Regular physical activity is key to keeping the weight off.

There are a variety of options to help you lose weight and keep it off. The key to successful weight loss is making changes in your eating and physical activity habits that you will be able to maintain for the rest of your life.


Here Are the Minimums to Strive for:

Fruit group – 1½ cups daily Grains group*– 5 ounce Vegetable group – 2 cups daily Oils – 5 teaspoons daily Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese group – 2 cups daily Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group – 5 ounce equivalents daily

What counts as 1 cup?

  • 1 small apple
  • 1 large banana or orange
  • 1 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
  • 1 cup of 100% fruit juice
What is an ounce equivalent?
  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
  • 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal 
  • *select mostly whole grain varieties
  • 2 cup raw leafy vegetables
  • 1 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw
  • 1 cup vegetable juice
  • (additional servings of vegetables are encouraged)
  • 2 Tablespoons salad dressing=2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 Tablespoons mayonnaise or margarine=2½ teaspoons oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil=3 teaspoons oil

What counts as 1

  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1½ ounces of hard cheese
  • 2 ounces of process cheese
  • (choose low-fat or non-fat varieties)

What counts as an ounce equivalent?

  • What counts as an ounce equivalent?1 ounce of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup cooked dry beans
  • ½ ounce nuts or seeds*
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter* (choose lean
  • *High-fat – choose sparingly
Sample Menu
Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack
  • 1 cup whole grain ready-to-eat cereal (1 ounce eq. grain)
  • 1 cup 1% or fat-free milk (1 cup Milk)
  • 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice (1/2 cup Fruit)

Sandwich made with:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (2 ounce eq. Grain)
  • 2 ounces turkey breast (2 ounces eq. Meat)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise Lettuce, tomato, baby carrots (1 cup Vegetables)
  • 1 medium pear (1 cup Fruit)
  • Beverage*
  • 3 ounces baked chicken (3 ounce eq. Meat)
  • 1 cup brown rice (2 ounce eq. Grain)
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli (1 cup Vegetables)
  • Beverage*
  • 1 cup fat-free milk (1 cup Milk)
  • 2 Chocolate chip cookies (135 discretionary calories)
  • Beverage*

Menu’s totals: 1,489 calories, 26 grams fiber, 112 milligrams cholesterol, 42 grams fat, 800 milligrams calcium, 1800 milligrams sodium.

*Appropriate beverages include water or other non-caloric drinks

Wilson, M. 2000, Healthy Weight Loss, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-00-36

Authors of this scholarly work are no longer available.

Please contact Extension's Communication Team for assistance.


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