It's not difficult to find methods to lose weight the healthy way. One thing you must have is discipline. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to make lifestyle changes not just find a new fad diet. Losing weight is just like any life goal, you need to set it, write it down and create a plan to reach that goal. Following are a few key steps to taking off the pounds the right way – gradually and long-term.

Our bodies are made up of mostly water. In order for the body to function correctly, you must keep it hydrated. If your body is trying to find water to hydrate itself, it is not trying to burn calories so you can lose weight. You will find many formulas for how much water to drink. A rule of thumb is to drink 6 to 8, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. There is plenty of discussion about what liquids can be classified as water, decaffeinated coffee, sugar free sodas, etc. I say, stick with water and your body will thank you.

Drink water before you get thirsty. If you feel thirsty, your body is already starting to dehydrate. Sometimes when you are hungry, it is actually your body telling you it is thirsty. So before you reach for an unplanned snack, reach for some water.

Try to plan your meals, snacks and exercise for the whole week. By planning your food ahead of time, you reduce the chance of getting unhealthy snacks or eating take out junk food when you do not have food at home to cook. Keep plenty of healthy snacks, like granola bars and fruit available at home and work. It is rare that you find healthy snacks in the vending machine, so be prepared for those afternoon hunger pains.

Part of your weight loss plan needs to include exercise. Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise plan and start slow and easy. If you have not exercised in months or years, do not start off trying to run 5 miles a day. If your goal is too large, you will get discouraged quickly. Maybe start by walking 2 miles a couple of times a week. Make sure you drink before, during and after exercise.

Not only does exercise keep your body in good shape and make you overall healthy, it increases your metabolism, so you can burn more calories. Burning more calories than you take in is the bottom line when it comes to weight loss. Good starting exercise plans can range from 10 minutes every day to 20 minutes a few times a week. Create a plan for yourself that you can stick with. You are in this for the long haul – slow and steady wins the race.