How to stick to a weight loss commitmentGiven the statistics on the fattening of America, there's little reason to wonder why many people are anxious to loose a few pounds. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, including 17 percent of women and 11 percent of women who are severely obese, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Numerous studies have shown links between obesity and health risks, and new research by the National Cancer Institute shows that healthy adults who have never smoked face a higher risk of death if they are simply overweight. Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 to 29.9; obese is a BMI of 30 to 30.4, and severely obese is a BMI of 35 and over. BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight by the square of his or her height.

Your height-weight ratio can influence your life insurance rates. Additionally, obesity can lead to the development of health conditions, such as diabetes, which can make obtaining affordable health insurance challenging.

But making the decision to lose weight and following through on that commitment are two very different things. Here are some tips for sticking to your weight loss commitment, based on information from the Centers for Disease Control:

1. Face reality

Talk to your doctor about your weight and how you should approach the issue. Keep a food diary of everything you eat for a few days to get a handle on what, when and how much you eat, and examine your lifestyle and what contributes to overeating.

2. Remember slow and steady wins the race

Avoid crash diets that promise quick fixes. People who lose one to two pounds a week keep weight off better than those who lose weight more quickly. Think in terms of altering your lifestyle--making changes you can stick to for the long haul--rather than going on an overly restrictive diet.

3. Set reasonable goals

If you're overall goal is to lose 50 pounds, set some short-term goals and rewards for your efforts. They should be specific and realistic--and you should leave room for the occasional slip-up. "Start exercising" is too vague. An appropriate goal might be "Take a 20-minute walk, three days a week."

4. Enlist support

Find a weight-loss buddy, get support from family or friends or join a sensible weight-loss program. Programs such as Weight Watchers now offer online versions, featuring a wealth of information and opportunities for members to connect online.

As you continue your efforts, monitor your progress and revisit your goals. Give yourself non-food rewards for reaching milestones, and don't give up.