If you're overweight, losing weight will bring you a range of important health benefits. The key to success? Making realistic changes to your diet and level of physical activity that can become a part of your daily routine.
This guide can help you to start your journey towards a healthy weight.
Commit to change
Modern life can make it easy to eat and drink more than we realise and do little physical activity. The result is often weight gain.
To lose weight, we need to change our current habits. This can mean eating less even when eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting more active. Drastic fad diets and exercise regimens that result in rapid weight loss are unlikely to work for long, because these kinds of lifestyle changes can’t be maintained. Once you stop the regime, you’re likely to return to old habits and regain weight and in some cases put on even more.
Are you at risk?
Ready to get started?
Here are five actions you can do today that will start your journey towards a healthy weight:
- Check your body mass index (BMI). BMI is often used to determine if a person is underweight, overweight or within a healthy weight range. If your BMI is in the overweight range, aim to achieve a weight that puts your BMI in the healthy range. If it is in the obese range, aim to lose between 5% and 10% of your starting weight. Having lots of muscle may put your BMI in the unhealthy range, even if you have little body fat. However, this will not apply to most people.
- Think about the next snack you plan to have and swap it for something healthier. Many common snacks, such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits and chips, are high in fat and sugar and kilojoules that we don’t need. Today, swap your mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack for a piece of fruit, or another healthy snack. (For a list of healthy snacks, see LiveLighter). Aim to do the same every day.
- Swap drinks that are high in calories for drinks that are lower in fat and sugars. Plain tap water is the best drink choice. It's cheap, quenches your thirst and has no kilojoules. Don’t forget that alcohol is also high in kilojoules, so cutting down will or choosing low-alcohol drinks can help you to control your weight, and it’s healthier.
- Fit just one extra walk into your day. Fast walking is a way to burn kilojoules, and you can often fit it into your daily routine. You might walk to the shops during your lunch break, get off the bus one stop early on the way home and walk the rest of the way, or take the stairs rather than the lift. Ideally, you should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day; it’s not as many as it sounds.
- Think about your breakfast tomorrow morning. Can you make it healthier, using the foods you already have at home? See LiveLighter for ideas for healthy breakfasts.
Do this week
Here are four actions you can take this week:
- Plan a healthy weekly shop. Healthy, balanced meals are key to a healthy weight, and eating a balanced diet often starts with having the right foods at home. At the supermarket look out for fresh foods and healthier options.
- Everyone likes a treat occasionally, like a pizza or a takeaway. This week, swap your treat for a healthier, home-made alternative as you can make lower kilojoule versions of many takeaway foods at home. If you do order in, choose healthier options.
- Commit to one more way to increase your level of physical activity. The right amount of physical activity for you depends on your age. It’s recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, like fast walking or cycling, or most or, preferably all, days of the week. You may need to do more to lose weight.
- Identify this week’s danger zones. These are times when you might find yourself eating lots of foods that are high in fat and sugar, perhaps because you are eating out or simply because you’re tired or stressed. Plan ahead so that you can limit those foods. But don’t be too strict; an indulgence from time to time is fine.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: August 2018