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Your Questions About Weight Loss and Blood Pressure—Answered

By Willow Jarosh, R.D., and Stephanie Clarke, R.D.

Q: My doctor suggested I try to lose at least 30 pounds with diet/exercise before trying medication for my high blood pressure. That seems like an overwhelming task—where do I begin?

A: Think in terms of mini goals! Sure, losing the 30 pounds will be your ultimate challenge, but try not to focus on it exclusively. Instead, break down the process into the smaller goals to meet along the way. For instance: Ask yourself what lifestyle changes you’ll need to make in order to achieve consistent weight loss. Your answers may include dining out less, minimizing mindless snacking, downsizing your portions, being more active, etc. That’s still a lot! So zero in on the two or three steps you can focus on first.

Say you’re going to work on snacking less. Give yourself a couple of new daily habits to aim for around this goal. Perhaps you’ll make it a new rule that you’ll eat only at the kitchen table and you’ll start having a cup of herbal tea after dinner instead of dessert. If you also want to focus on eating out less, maybe you’ll shoot to start bringing your lunch. Once you’ve got those new habits comfortably in hand, take on the next couple goals.

Finally, realize that you’re not expected to know every detail (or even any) regarding healthful eating and exercise, so seek out sources of support to help you get started. Consider seeing a registered dietitian (R.D.) who can help you set up your food- and diet-related goals (find one at Eatright.org). In addition, think about working with a licensed trainer who can get you started on an exercise program that is safe and works well for you (visit Acefitness.org to find one near you). Setting up a solid support system that includes professionals who specialize in diet and exercise can not only give you the specific knowledge you need to reach your goals, it also provides instant accountability—it’s tons easier to stay on track when you have to answer to someone other than yourself!

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