Q: I am 5’4″ tall and weigh 229 pounds. What is a reasonable calorie intake and time frame to get to my goal of 145 pounds?
– Barbara in Milwaukee

A: Women are hard-pressed to meet all their nutritional needs when daily intakes fall below 1,800 calories. Never go below 1,500 calories without physician and/or dietitian supervision. Losing weight gradually stacks the deck in favor of keeping the weight off, so shoot for a 2 pound loss per week, which means it should take you about 42 weeks to get the weight off using a low-fat, moderate-calorie diet plus daily exercise. Your exercise program should combine four or more sessions weekly (lasting a minimum of 30 minutes each) of fat-burning activity, such as walking, running, bicycling, or aerobic dance, with two to four weekly sessions of muscle-maintaining activity, such as strength training. -Elizabeth Somer