Weight loss is daunting for anyone and can be downright petrifying for someone who has a significant amount to shed. “A big thing that keeps many obese individuals from starting a fitness program is believing they are already too far gone,” says Alexander McBrairty, personal trainer and owner of A-Team Fitness in Ann Arbor, MI, and fitness competitor who once was 80 pounds overweight. “But every person I’ve ever known who went through a substantial weight loss journey, myself included, will tell you it’s the best thing they ever did, and their only regret was not doing something about it sooner.”

Without question, what you eat is the most important aspect (80 percent of your effort, according to most experts). (Check out some of our diet programs.) The other 20 percent, of course, is how much you move. In addition to boosting your calorie deficit, exercise does all those good things that doctors on TV talk about, including reducing risks of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and improving sleep and mood.

So, here are five things you need to consider before you get moving—literally.

The 4-Week Fat-Burning Meal Plan >>>