Want to add years to your life? Learn how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese. Defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, obesity can place people at a higher risk for many serious health conditions, such as breathing problems, certain cancers, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, mental illness, sleep apnea, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

While weight loss and maintenance can be challenging, making your health a priority can lead to a longer, happier life. A little patience and the following science-backed advice from the CDC will help you get on the right path.

5 Tips to Lose Weight

  • Step on the scale. Before you get started, assess where you are now. Know your weight, measure your waist circumference, and calculate your BMI.
  • Set goals. Losing weight gradually—approximately one to two pounds per week—has proved more effective in the long run than rapid weight loss. If progress feels slow, don’t worry. Dropping just five to 10 percent of your weight can lead to improvements in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Eat for your health. Focus on eating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables; calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk and fortified nut milk; and foods high in protein, such as beans, eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts, and poultry. Be careful of foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars. Additionally, it is important to keep calories in check—a process you can simplify through one of the many calorie-counting applications available on the internet or as an app on your smartphone.
  • Plan meals as a family. Involve your loved ones in meal preparation to create a bonding experience that you can look forward to. Make a routine of finding healthy recipes to prepare and eat together.
  • Get active. Physical activity can help you drop or maintain weight, get stronger, and reduce your risk for many health concerns, including symptoms of anxiety or depression. Strive to engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 150 minutes every week (that is only 30 minutes per weekday!) and full-body muscle-strengthening activities at least twice per week.

See more information on losing or maintaining weight.