how do you get started? With the hundreds and hundreds of diets out there, how
do you choose the best approach?
To find out, WebMD turned to James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Center for
Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado in Denver. Much of Hill’s
research has focused on the habits of people who manage to achieve what we all
want: stable and sustained weight loss. So how do these people lose weight and
how do they keep it off? Hill has some answers.
I want to lose weight but have no idea where to start. What should I do?
Before you try to make any changes to your habits, first you need to see
where you are right now. Find out what your body mass index (BMI) is. See how
it compares to a healthy weight. Start keeping a record of what you eat each
day and how much exercise you get.
Now people say, “Why bother? I already know what I’m eating right now!” But
you really don’t. Eating is something that we do every day without really
paying any attention. Once you start writing it down, you may learn things you
never knew about your habits. You could be drinking five pops a day and have no
idea. Taking stock of where you are now gives you a sense of what needs to
The next step is really important. You have to make a long-term commitment. If
you’re going to change your eating and exercise habits, you won’t be done after
six weeks or six months or six years. You have to decide that you’re motivated
to make changes that will last for the rest of your life.
Which commercial diet books, programs, or plans really work?
Basically, almost any diet plan will work for weight loss. Go to a bookstore
and buy any diet book. It will give you tips on eating less and you can lose
weight. But the problem is that almost none of them work for weight loss
If you want to lose weight, I don’t think it matters how you do it or what
plan you use. But to keep it off, you will probably have to use different
I co-founded the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks about 6,000
people who have, on average, lost 70 pounds and kept it off for seven years.
What we’re doing is trying to learn how these people manage to do it. What
strategies really work? We’ve found some common factors. People in the Registry
tend to do a lot of physical activity. They tend to eat a low-fat diet and pay
attention to overall calories. They self-monitor: they weigh themselves and
keep periodic food diaries. And they eat breakfast every day.