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By Nora Saul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Manager, Nutrition Services
Joslin Diabetes Center
Boston, MA

Created: 12/28/2009
Last Updated: 11/05/2013

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Q: I'd like to lose some weight in the new year, but I'm not sure where to begin. Any advice?

There are a number of things you can do to make your journey with weight loss easier. The first is to evaluate where you are now. Keep a record of your food and exercise habits over a couple of weeks. For long-term weight loss to be effective, you need to include physical activity as well as dietary changes.

You can use a variety of online programs to determine your current calorie intake and expenditure. The USDA SuperTracker at www.supertracker.usda.gov is one such program. Then look at your overall meal pattern and compare it to the USDA pyramid. Are you getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet? Are there food groups that you are currently omitting that should be included? Figure out how many more calories you are eating each day than you need to maintain your desired weight. This will help you decide the type of changes you need to make.

Additionally, think about how you prefer to do things. Do you like working alone or does a group give you added confidence and support? If you work better with groups, look into the many group programs available or start your own group with friends and family.  Decide if you would like working with a coach. If so, consider enlisting the services of your health care provider or a registered dietitian.

And finally make a commitment to yourself that you are making changes for a lifetime.