Man standing on bathroom scale to start weight loss journey

How to start a weight loss journey: key steps

Written on March 24, 2023 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Every year, many people make losing weight one of their New Year’s resolutions, and every year, many people slide back into bad habits before their month of a free gym membership is over. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have good information and resources available to help you start your weight loss journey.

In addition to increasing self-esteem and feeling good about your new physique, you will gain tangible health benefits from losing weight. It can reduce your risk of certain conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It can lower your blood pressure and total cholesterol level. It also can relieve symptoms and prevent injuries related to being overweight.

Despite the known benefits, it is still challenging, even daunting, to embark on a weight loss journey. Taking a look at some credible weight loss sources will hopefully put your mind at ease and give you the confidence you need regarding how to start a weight loss journey.


Any weight loss journey should start with a serious commitment to losing weight. To ensure your commitment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends writing down the reasons you want to lose weight. Post these reasons where they serve as a daily reminder of why you want to make this change.

Take stock of where you are now

The CDC also recommends taking stock of where you are now. Write down everything you eat for a few days in a food diary. By doing this, you become more aware of what you are eating and when you are eating.

Tracking physical activity, sleep, and emotions along with the food diary can help you understand current habits and stressors while also identifying areas where you can start making changes.

Next, examine your lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. For example, does your work or travel schedule make it hard to get enough physical activity? Do you find yourself eating sugary foods because that’s what you buy for your kids? Do your coworkers bring high-calorie items to the workplace to share with everyone? Think through things you can do to help overcome these challenges [1].

Set realistic goals

It may seem obvious to set realistic weight loss goals, but do you really know what’s realistic? According to the Mayo Clinic, over the long term, it’s smart to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds a week. Generally, to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day through a lower-calorie diet and regular physical activity.

Depending on your weight, 5% of your current weight may be a realistic goal, at least for an initial goal. If you weigh 180 pounds, that’s 9 pounds. Even this level of weight loss can help lower your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

When you’re setting goals, think about both process and outcome goals. “Walk every day for 30 minutes” is an example of a process goal. “Lose 10 pounds” is an example of an outcome goal. It isn’t essential to have an outcome goal, but you should set process goals because changing your habits is a key to weight loss [2].

Everlywell Weight Loss Support

Change your habits

Changing your eating and physical activity habits and lifestyle is difficult, but with a plan, effort, regular support, and patience, you may be able to lose weight and improve your health. The following tips, offered by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, may help you think about ways to lose weight, engage in regular physical activity, and improve health over the long term [3]:

  • Be prepared for setbacks — they are normal. After a setback, try to regroup and focus on getting back to your healthy eating plan as soon as you can. Try to eat only when you’re sitting at your dining room or kitchen table.
  • At work, avoid areas where treats may be available.
  • Track your progress using online food or physical activity trackers that can help you note the foods you eat, your physical activity, and your weight. These tools may help you stick with it and stay motivated.
  • Seek support. Ask for help or encouragement from your family, friends, or healthcare professionals. You can also join a support group. Specially trained health professionals who can help you change your lifestyle are also available.

Get physical

Both adults and children should get regular physical activity. It is important for losing weight and maintaining good health. Below, as recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians, are ways to increase your activity and burn calories [4]:

  • Add 10 minutes a day to your current exercise routine.
  • Challenge yourself. Move from moderate to intense activities.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • If safe, park farther away or walk to your destination instead of driving.
  • Do more household chores, such as dusting, vacuuming, or weeding.
  • Go for a walk or run.
  • Exercise while watching TV.
  • Be active on your vacations. Try going for a hike or bike ride.
  • Buy a pedometer or activity tracker. These measure how many steps you take each day. Try to increase your daily number of steps over time.
  • Limit time spent online, watching TV, and playing video games. This should equal less than 2 hours total per day.

Everlywell offers access to weight management opportunities

Everlywell offers access to online weight management. Medication and online clinical support can help you lose weight and reduce the risk of long-term health issues.

Lifestyle change can be really hard, but with the right support, you can achieve it. Start today. It’s worth it.

What is healthy weight loss?

What factors influence weight loss?

Lifestyle changes to lose weight: what to know


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting started. Last reviewed June 3, 2022. Accessed March 13, 2023.
  2. Mayo Clinic. Weight loss: 6 strategies for success. Updated December 7, 2021. Accessed March 13, 2023.
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for overweight & obesity. Last reviewed June 2018. Accessed March 13, 2023.
  4. American Academy of Family Physicians. What you should know before you start a weight-loss plan. Updated August 2, 2022. Accessed March 13, 2023.
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