4 Effective Strategies for Achieving Your Weight Loss Goals

Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals: A Practical Guide to Lasting Results

August 1, 2023

Weight loss is a common challenge faced by many people around the world. Despite the abundance of fad diets and advice found in books and online, it can be difficult to find reliable recommendations that are suitable for the average person. This is why we suggest taking a holistic approach that considers diet, exercise, and lifestyle when it comes to effectively losing weight and maintaining a healthy body.


Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Losing Weight

Shedding excess pounds has numerous benefits for our physical health but also plays a significant role in improving our mental well-being. When it comes to physical health, losing weight can help reduce the risk of various chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. It can also improve overall cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol levels and decreasing strain on the heart.

Losing weight can also lead to increased energy levels and improved mobility. Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on joints and muscles, making everyday activities more challenging. By achieving a healthy weight, individuals may experience less joint pain, have less development of arthritis, and find it easier to engage in physical activities they enjoy. Other physical health benefits of lowering Body Mass Index (BMI) include reduced inflammation and improved sleep apnea, polycystic ovaries and infertility, and menstrual irregularities, among many others. [i]

The advantages of losing weight extend beyond physical well-being. Regular physical activity associated with weight loss releases endorphins–brain chemicals that act as natural mood boosters. A lighter body weight has been found to improve anxiety and depression symptoms and promote a sense of well-being. Achieving weight loss goals often boosts self-confidence and improves body image perception. [ii] This newfound confidence can go on to positively impact other areas of life, like relationships and career success.

What is an Ideal Body Weight?

Achieving an ideal body weight is a goal that many individuals strive for to maintain good health and overall well-being. A commonly used tool to assess whether a person's weight is within a healthy range is BMI. BMI considers factors such as height and weight to determine if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.  

Yet, it's important to note that BMI is not always a perfect indicator of one's ideal body weight. Factors such as body frame size and muscle mass can also play a role in determining what weight range may be appropriate for an individual. Someone with a larger frame or a more muscular build may naturally have a higher weight compared to someone with a smaller frame.

We recommend focusing on maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and making lifestyle changes that promote overall health. Achieving an ideal body weight shouldn’t only be focused on aesthetics but rather on promoting overall health and well-being. You can also consult your healthcare provider to determine your ideal body weight.  

Common Barriers to Successful Long-term Weight Loss

A common obstacle in the weight loss journey is distorted thoughts and beliefs related to dieting and body image. These distorted thoughts often include negative self-perception, unrealistic expectations, and an all-or-nothing mindset. Distorted thinking patterns can lead to feelings of frustration and guilt, and even ultimately sabotage one's weight loss efforts.

Many people also fall into the trap of fad diets, which promise quick results but often fail to provide sustainable solutions. These diets often promote strict eating patterns or eliminate entire food groups with the promise of rapid weight loss. However, these approaches are typically unsustainable and can lead to nutrient deficiencies or unhealthy relationships with food.  

Learning how to identify thinking errors and correct those distorted thoughts can play a significant role in improving our perception of ourselves, our motivation, and ultimately our weight loss outcomes. It’s important to set realistic expectations and use cognitive behavioral therapy to combat distorted thinking patterns effectively. Additionally, focusing on adopting sustainable lifestyle changes rather than relying on fad diets is important for long-term success.  

As we seek a holistic approach to overcoming barriers and successfully losing weight and keeping it off, let’s examine the tried-and-true recommendations of internal medicine physician, Dr. Neil Nedley.  

Dr. Nedley’s Top 4 Weight Loss Recommendations:

1. Intermittent fasting

Eating your largest meal at breakfast, followed by a moderate lunch 5-6 hours later, and forgoing an evening meal have distinct BMI advantages for healthy adults. This specific meal timing and frequency has been found to provide the best results in losing weight. [iii] This approach, known as intermittent fasting, also involves an important overnight fast of 17-18 hours. If you adhere to the specific steps outlined above, you can effectively achieve your desired BMI and prevent long-term weight gain.

Dr. Nedley recommends starting intermittent fasting with a no-supper plan. Within a week, individuals typically do not experience hunger in the evening if they adhere to this plan. After two weeks, many report that their evening hunger completely diminishes.

For those looking to lose weight more quickly, Dr. Nedley recommends fasting one full day per week. This not only enhances weight loss but also promotes post-fast well-being and improved mental clarity. However, we suggest avoiding fasting on weekends to have quality family time and fully enjoy your time off.

2. No snacking

Snacking can hinder feelings of satiation and often leads to overnutrition. Dr. Nedley says that approximately 1 out of 3 people are overweight not because of what they are eating at mealtimes, but because of what they are eating between meals: bigger snacks, bigger slacks. By not snacking, you can reduce your calorie intake. Skipping snacks also allows your stomach and body to rest between meals, enabling optimal physical and mental functioning. If you struggle with snacking, it's important to avoid shopping on an empty stomach and follow a strict grocery list to prevent tempting treats from entering your home. If necessary, consider giving away or disposing of your snacks. Only water should pass your lips between meals.

3. Examine your inputs: no refined sugars or processed foods and drink more water

We recommend a whole-food, plant-based diet as optimal for mental and physical health. The ideal diet is whole foods eaten whole. Eating a colorful array of whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes will provide important nutrients and filling fiber needed by your body. As you seek to lose or maintain weight, avoid calorically dense refined and processed foods. Over time, your taste buds will adjust to this nutrient-rich diet, and you will find satisfaction without overnutrition.  

Staying hydrated with water is crucial, and it’s essential to avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol as they add unnecessary calories. Alcohol consumption will also impair your weight loss efforts because it suppresses the frontal lobe, making it harder to stick to your diet plan. In addition to avoiding these beverages, drinking two glasses of water thirty minutes before each meal can help create a sense of fullness, resulting in consuming fewer calories during the meal. [iv] To ensure proper hydration, Dr. Nedley recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces per day (i.e., 160 pounds/2 = 80 ounces per day).  

4. Daily physical activity

Aim to engage in a minimum of 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least six days per week. Aerobic exercises are activities that increase your heart rate and require oxygen. This means that during these activities, your heart, lungs, and circulatory system work together to deliver oxygen to your muscles. Examples of aerobic exercises include brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, tennis, jump rope, rowing, skiing, stair climbing, and high-intensity interval training, among others. If you're breaking a sweat during these activities, you're doing them correctly. Burning calories through physical activity is crucial for weight loss and plays a significant role in improving both physical and mental health. We advise consulting with a doctor before starting a vigorous exercise regimen if you have any heart condition or if you have been inactive for an extended period. They may recommend gradually incorporating modified activities or physical therapy as you prepare to engage in regular aerobic exercise.

Common questions in Dr. Nedley’s office:  

How quickly can I expect to lose weight with these recommendations?

You can expect to lose 2-4 pounds per week if you combine intermittent fasting with one 24-40-hour fast each week. Dr. Nedley recommends that if you finish a meal at 2 pm and then do not eat the rest of that day or the next day, that you will achieve your goal more rapidly.

Are there benefits to longer fasts?  

There are some benefits with fasts up to three days long (benefits include more rapid weight loss, a significant boost in energy level, and a GI tract reset if experiencing issues). Dr. Nedley does not recommend water fasts longer than 3 days without medical supervision.  

I can’t fast. What do I do?

If desired, you can monitor your blood sugar levels while fasting. And exercise. Exercise prompts the liver to start metabolizing its sugar reserves, which means that most of the time your blood sugars will not get too low. If your blood glucose levels are above 50, there is no need to be concerned and you can safely fast.  

I’m still not losing weight.  

Take a close look at what you’re eating. Your diet may be “healthy” and still be plant-based but calorically dense. Avoid or minimize processed, refined foods while trying to see the scale change, and eat sparingly once an ideal weight is achieved.  

I’m underweight. How do I gain weight?

Nuts are nature’s most calorically dense foods. To gain weight, eat 2-3 meals each day with half to one cup of nuts at each meal.  


Instead of depending on restrictive diets or quick fixes, these four weight loss recommendations prioritize establishing a sustainable eating pattern and lifestyle that works for you in the long run. This approach can result in more consistent weight loss and maintenance over time. Ultimately, the physical and mental health advantages of practicing intermittent fasting, intentionally choosing whole foods to nourish your body, and embracing a healthy lifestyle outweigh any challenges. By cultivating lasting habits, enhancing body image, and experiencing biochemical enhancements, you can attain enduring success on your weight loss journey.

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[i] Ryan, D., & Yockey, S. (2017). Weight Loss and Improvement in Comorbidity: Differences at 5%, 10%, 15%, and Over.Current Obesity Reports, 6(2), 187–194.  

[ii] Lasikiewicz, N., Myrissa, K., Hoyland, A., & Lawton, C. (2014). Psychological benefits of weight loss following behavioural and/or dietary weight loss interventions. A systematic research review. Appetite, 72, 123–137.  

[iii] Kahleova, H., Lloren, J. I., Mashchak, A., et al. (2017). Meal Frequency and Timing Are Associated with Changes in Body Mass Index in Adventist Health Study 2. The Journal of Nutrition, 147(9), 1722–1728.

[iv] Corney, R., Sunderland, C., & James, L. (2016). Immediate pre-meal water ingestion decreases voluntary food intake in lean young males. European Journal of Nutrition, 55(2), 815–819.  

Nedley, N. (2023, July 11). Phone interview.

About the author

Cami Gotshall, MPH, and consultation with Neil Nedley, MD

Cami Gotshall, MPH, is the Health Education Director for Nedley Health. Her passion is disseminating information on living a mentally healthy lifestyle to people around the world. Cami works closely with the Nedley Health programs to continually enhance and expand each program. She lives in Colorado with her husband.