Most people who set out to lose weight fail to reach their goals. Losing weight is by no means easy, but many of these failures can be attributed to sub optimal strategies. You have to get your ducks in a row if you want to be successful in your efforts. This requires knowledge, planning and consistency as well as the ability to adapt to unexpected life changes. If you have some extra weight to lose, use these 4 proven strategies to optimize your approach and increase your chances of success.

1. Make a Firm Commitment

There is a subtle difference between trying your best and making a commitment to succeed. The latter leaves no room for failure. When you make a firm commitment to reaching your goals, you are basically promising yourself that you will not quit until you hit your target. This is the kind of commitment that is required, as life will inevitably throw you a few curves balls along the way. You have to roll with the punches, deal with setbacks and, most importantly, keep going.

2. Motivate Yourself

Change must come from within, and this goes for motivation as well. No one can give you motivation or keep you on task if you let your fire go out. For the first few weeks, before the novelty wears off, you will probably enjoy going to the gym and eating healthy. Unfortunately, this enjoyment will come to an end soon after. You will get tired of eating grilled chicken and broccoli, you will loathe going to the gym and you will begin fantasizing about sitting on the couch all day eating donuts.

Most people throw in the towel at this point. In order to stay on the wagon, you must find ways to keep yourself motivated. You can use inspirational photos, quotes, people at your gym and anything else that will keep you motivated to continue. The important thing is to find some way to carry on and fight through the boredom and discomfort that come with sticking to a weight loss program.

3. Set Concrete Goals

Setting goals is an important part of the process, but not just any goals will do. Your goals should be aggressive, specific and realistic. You should also set both process and outcome goals. Getting to the gym five days per week is a process goal, while losing five pounds by May 1st is an outcome goal. As far as being realistic goes, most dieters can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week with a good nutrition and exercise regimen in place.

4. Stay Active

Staying active involves more than going to the gym a couple times each week, as this will hardly be enough if you spend the rest of your week being sedentary. Shoot for 3 to 5 workouts per week, but get in some activity in between workouts as well. Take the stairs, bike to the store, go for a walk and take advantage of any other opportunities you have to get off your butt and burn some extra calories. Over the course of several months, those extra calories burned will make a significant difference.