How Can I Manage My Weight?

Updated:Feb 8,2013

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge. You may have tried to lose weight before without much long-term success. Be assured, you are not alone. 

There is no magic formula for losing weight. The key is to find a daily eating plan that provides the right balance of calories and nutrition with the appropriate amounts of physical activity. 

What are the keys to healthy weight loss?
To lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than you use through normal metabolism and physical activity. It’s just a matter of:

  • Eating less
  • Choosing nutritious foods.
  • Following an overall healthy diet pattern
  • Getting and staying physically active

How can I make better food choices?
Follow these guidelines to improve your overall diet pattern.

  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat whole-grain, high-fiber foods.
  • Limit how much saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol you eat.
  • Select fat-free and low-fat (1%) dairy products.
  • Limit beverages and foods high in calories and low in nutrition.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt.

What happens when I reach a healthy weight?

  • After you reach a healthy weight, add about 200 calories of heart healthy  food to your average daily intake.
  • After a week, if you’re still losing weight, add a few hundred more calories.
  • If you change the amount of physical activity you do, adjust your eating.
  • Keep a record of what you eat and how much physical activity you get so you’ll know how to make adjustments.
How can I stay at a healthy weight?

  • Remember that eating smart means eating some foods in smaller amounts and eating high-calorie and high-fat foods less often.
  • Always keep low-calorie heart healthy  foods around.
  • Use a shopping list, and don’t shop when you’re hungry.
  • Plan all your meals. When you’re going to a party or out to eat, decide ahead of time what you can do to make it easier to eat right.
  • When you’re hungry between meals, drink a glass of water or eat a small piece of fruit.
  • When you really crave a high-calorie food, eat a small amount of it. Stay active! Don’t give up on your physical activity plan.

What if I go back to old habits?
A lapse is a small mistake or return to old habits. This can happen when you have a bad day and overeat or skip exercise.  A relapse is when you go back to old habits for several days or weeks.

Remember that having a lapse or relapse is not failing. You can get back on track.

How can I learn more?

  1. Talk to your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professionals. If you have heart disease or have had a stroke, members of your family also may be at higher risk. It’s very important for them to make changes now to lower their risk.
  2. Call 1-800-AHA-USA1 (1-800-242-8721), or visit to learn more about heart disease.
  3. For information on stroke, call 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653) or visit us online at

We have many other fact sheets and educational booklets to help you make healthier choices to reduce your risk, manage disease or care for a loved one. Visit to learn more.

Knowledge is power, so Learn and Live!

Do you have questions or comments for your doctor or nurse?

Take a few minutes to write your own questions for the next time you see your healthcare provider. For example:

What if I start gaining weight?

How can my family help me?

©2012, American Heart Association

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What Do My Cholesterol Levels Mean?
What Are High Blood Cholesterol and Triglycerides?
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What Is a Heart Attack?
How Will I Recover From My Heart Attack?
What Are the Warning Signs of Heart Attack?
What Are Heart Disease and Stroke?
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Stroke, Recovery and Caregiving
Hemorrhagic Stroke
Ischemic Stroke
What Are the Warning Signs of Stroke?
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Stroke
Stroke Diagnosis
Changes Caused by Stroke
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Feeling Tired After a Stroke
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Stroke Family Caregivers
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How Can I Manage My Weight?
How Can Physical Activity Become a Way of Life?
Why Should I Be Physically Active?
How Do I Follow a Healthy Diet?
Why Should I Limit Sodium?
How Do I Read "Nutrition Facts" Labels?
How Can I Quit Smoking?
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How Can I Make My Lifestyle Healthier?
How Can I Monitor My Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Weight?