Watch Your Weight

The Basics
To stay at a healthy weight, balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn (use up).

Take Action!
Keep a food and activity diary to help you learn more about your habits.

Start Today: Small Steps

The Basics

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To stay at a healthy weight, balance the calories you eat and drink with the calories you burn (use up). Calories are a measure of the energy in the foods you eat. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat.

A healthy diet and physical activity can help you control your weight. You burn more calories when you are physically active.

How do I know if I’m at a healthy weight?
Finding out your Body Mass Index (BMI) is an easy way to learn if you are at a healthy weight.  Use this Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to find out your BMI and what it means for you.

How do I know if I’m eating the right number of calories?
Use the MyPlate Plan to get an idea of how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. 

What can losing weight do for me?
Being overweight or having obesity can raise your risk for serious health conditions like:

Losing weight can:

You may start to see these health benefits by losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, this would mean losing 10 to 20 pounds.

Take Action!

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Start by making a promise to eat well, move more, and get support from family and friends. 

Set realistic goals.
If you need to lose weight, do it slowly over time. Start out by setting small goals, like:

Keep a food and activity diary.
When you know your habits, it's easier to make changes. Write down:

Print this food and activity diary or make your own. 

Get more physical activity.
Remember that to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Get active to balance the calories you take in with the calories you use.

Even some physical activity is better than none. If you don’t have time for 30 minutes of activity, get moving for shorter 10-minute periods throughout the day.

How much activity you need will depend on your weight goals. You may need to do 5 hours of moderate-intensity activity a week to meet your goals.

Check out these resources for more information:

Eat healthy.
Eating healthy is good for your overall health. Making healthy food choices that are lower in calories can also help you manage your weight.

Here are a few healthy eating tips:

Check out these links to learn more:

Eat smaller portions.
Eating a healthy diet is important, but you also need to pay attention to how much food you eat and limit portions of high-calorie foods.  Take the Portion Distortion Quiz to test your knowledge.

Here are some ideas for watching your portions:

Try these tips when you eat out:

You don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods to lose weight!  Get tips to help you enjoy your food while eating less.

Ask your doctor for help.
You may also want to talk to a doctor or nurse about different ways to lose weight. Your doctor can tell you about your options, like joining a weight-loss program. Check out these questions to ask your doctor about losing weight.

Find out if you need to get tested for diabetes.
If you are age 40 to 70 and you are overweight or you have obesity, ask your doctor to test you for diabetes. You may also need to get tested if you have other risk factors for diabetes, like having high blood pressure or having family members with type 2 diabetes. Learn more about type 2 diabetes.

What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover screening and counseling for obesity. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance company to find out more.

To learn about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit

Start Today: Small Steps

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