Your goal weight may seem far off, but don't sweat it. "The more you weigh, the more calories you burn during easier workouts, like brisk walking," says Holland. So rather than doing killer workouts from the get-go, small, consistent efforts will help you shed pounds early on—and seeing those quick results will motivate you to stay on track.

Your challenge? Preventing injuries.

"Excess weight makes exercise naturally harder on your joints," says Tom Holland, author of Beat the Gym. That's why it's important to start with basic body-weight exercises (or "training movements," as he calls them), which put less strain on your body and help you learn proper form. Once you master these fundamental moves, your joints and muscles will be prepped to tackle more-difficult exercises with ease.

Do the workout two or three times a week, completing two sets of each exercise, 12 to 15 reps per set (except where noted) and incorporate thecardio regimen below.

ENDURANCE-BUILDING CARDIO
Slow and steady isn't just for high school sweethearts; it's the key to developing endurance, a crucial building block at this weight-loss stage. "Sustained, moderate-intensity cardio helps teach your body to utilize fat as fuel so that over time you begin to burn more of it," says Holland. "Such activity also slowly introduces your joints to impact, reducing your risk of getting injured." Two days a week, do 30 to 45 minutes of easy to moderate-intensity cardio (you can walk, use an elliptical machine, hike, bike, or swim--anything that keeps you going for at least 30 minutes). Mix up your routine--bike one day, hike the next--to train different muscles and beat boredom.

SMART BITES
Enhance your weight-loss efforts by following these diet tips from Leslie Bonci, R.D., M.P.H., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and coauthor of Run Your Butt Off!

Take Note
A study found that those who kept daily food logs lost twice as much as those who didn't. Many people lowball how much they eat--seeing it all in black-and-white can be a reality check.

Find Balance
Experts say that people with a lot of pounds to lose get overwhelmed by counting calories and give up. Keep it simple by divvying your plate into thirds: 1/3 protein, 1/3 vegetables, and 1/3 whole grains.

Swap Smart
Restricting foods can increase your cravings and lead to off-the-wagon binges. Jonesing for a cookie? Have it, but swap it for your afternoon caramel macchiato or pretzels.

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