You’re already doing something right — walking every day; that’s a great start. Losing 55 pounds — and keeping it off — will take a substantial effort. Set yourself up for success by taking these action steps:
Talk to your healthcare provider about your weight loss goal. Ask if there are any limitations around the type, frequency, duration, or intensity of exercise that you can safely do. Ask for a referral to a registered dietitian, who can help you implement a healthy meal plan at a calorie level that allows you to lose weight at a healthy rate, yet still have enough energy to maintain an active lifestyle. Some people believe they can exercise so much that diet doesn’t matter; it’s not true. Exercise is important, but alone, it’s unlikely to lead to significant weight loss; diet plays a huge role, so make sure you get some reliable nutrition advice.
If you think you may have unresolved emotional or mental health issues, such as anger, anxiety, or depression, get some help. These types of issues can interfere with long-term weight loss if they’re not addressed. Your healthcare provider can steer you towards the right behavioral health provider or community resource.
Before you start making changes to your eating and exercise habits, identify 1 or more people in your life whom you can count on for support. Talk with them about your goals and any obstacles to success that you foresee; ask them to support you along the way, and be specific. For example, you could ask a friend or neighbor to meet you for a walk 3 times a week. Or you could ask your family to stock up on more fruits and vegetables — and bring fewer sweet and salty snack items into the house. Social support is a powerful tool when you’re tackling behavior change.
Use a pedometer to keep track of how active you are each day. Gradually build up to 10,000 steps a day. If you’ve been cleared to exercise with no restrictions, work on increasing the duration of your walks; gradually work up to 30 minutes, 5 times a week. After you reach that goal, work on picking up the pace. Consider adding strength training to your fitness plan twice a week, and swap out a couple of your weekly walks for another type of exercise — like a group fitness class, an exercise machine (elliptical, stair climber, stationary cycle, etc.) or swimming, for example, to keep your workouts interesting and fun.
Keep in mind that long-term weight loss requires a lifestyle change — so start looking for ways to combine social fun and physical activity, like going sightseeing on foot, dancing, or out for a weekend day hike. Spending time with others who share your priorities of healthy eating and physical activity will strengthen your resolve — and increase your odds of long-term success.