Getting Started

It’s important to set a healthy weight goal for yourself. During the 10 Pound Throwdown Challenge, we suggest that you plan to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. One way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories from food and drinks. Another way is to burn more calories through physical activity. Before you start the Challenge, take time to review the tips below.

Healthy Eating...

The newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 stress the importance of a healthy eating routine that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy/soy alternatives. To learn more, explore What is MyPlate? – a feature of the NEW website!

Check out the nutrition tips sheets in the resource section for ways to build a healthy plate, bite by bite.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Most of us don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. It doesn't take much to meet your daily amount. For instance, most adults need between 2 – 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 1 ½ - 2 cups of fruit per day.
  • Aim for 6 ounces of fatty fish per week to get your heart healthy, mood-boosting dose of omega-3 fatty acids. The best sources come from wild salmon, herring, lake trout, mackerel, whitefish, Bluefin tuna, anchovies and sardines.
  • Make half your grains whole wheat. Become a label reader to make sure you’re buying a 100% whole grain product. Be sure the first ingredient listed is a whole grain. Look for words like whole wheat, whole [name of grain], stone ground whole [name of grain], brown rice, oats, oatmeal and wheat berries. The following words do not describe a whole grain: enriched flour, bran or wheat germ.
  • Take a risk and try something new. For instance, make a salad with baby kale, a dark leafy green, which is packed full of vitamins and minerals.
  • Make small changes to eat fewer calories daily. For ideas, check out the 100 Ways to Cut Calories tip sheet.

What’s the best diet?

For a comparison on various diets, view the YouTube video:


Move more...

Most people who’ve been successful in losing weight and keeping a healthy weight take part in regular physical activity. Experts agree that doing both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities help people lose weight.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (all adults):

  • Do moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 150 minutes over 3-5 days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for at least 75 minutes each week.
  • Do 8-10 strength training exercises, 8-12 repetitions, 2 days a week. Include all the major muscle groups such as legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders and arms.

If you're not doing this much physical activity on a weekly basis, take small steps to slowly increase your activity. For more specific exercise guidelines and tips:

Realistic Goals...

Setting weekly "SMART" goals that focus on "how" to eat healthy and increase your physical activity can help you build new healthy habits for a lifetime. These goals should be:

  • Specific – what will you do – walk, swim, attend a Zumba class, etc.
  • Measurable – include items you can measure (i.e., minutes of activity, number of servings)
  • Attainable – set realistic goals that challenge you.
  • Relevant – include goals that are most important to you.
  • Time bound - include dates

Examples of SMART goals are:

  • ”I will use an online log to record everything I eat and drink this week to learn more about my habits and look for ways to improve."
  • "On Saturday I will buy a pedometer and begin tracking my steps."
  • "I will use smaller plates and bowls to eat my food at home."

Overcoming Barriers...

We understand that there are plenty of potential barriers that can make it hard to follow through with your plans - like time, weather, and lack of support. But these issues don't need to stand in your way. After setting goals, we suggest you begin the 10 Pound Throwdown by making a list of your personal barriers to healthy eating and physical activity. By troubleshooting and making a plan, you’ll have better success at overcoming them.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Make a list of your barriers – those things that get in the way of your plans for physical activity and healthy eating.
  2. Brainstorm possible ways to overcome EACH barrier. Be creative!
  3. Pick a solution you’re willing to try for one of your barriers and make a goal that includes when and how you will put the plan into action.
  4. Assess how well you did. If your plan worked well – stick with it! If the plan did not help you overcome your barrier, try one of your other ideas.


  1. Barrier: Candy Jar at Home
  2. Brainstorm Ideas:
    • Throw away the candy
    • Stop buying candy
    • Put the candy jar out of sight
    • Practice self-talk– tell myself “no!”
  3. Plan: The family has agreed that starting today we will keep the candy jar out of sight in a cabinet.
  4. Assess: I ate less candy this week and will keep track of my progress next week!

Track Your Progress...

Another key to losing weight is tracking your physical activity, eating habits and weight loss. You may find the Goal Setting Worksheet helpful! You can use something as simple as a calendar to record your physical activity. Step counters and other physical activity trackers can also help motivate you to increase your activity levels.

To track everything you eat and drink, consider using a journal, log sheet or a free App like MyFitnessPal.