Visit your doctor before starting a diet or exercise program, and you may see better results. A physical with a primary care doctor can give you the boost you need to stick with a program – and enjoy better health.

1) Get a baseline. It’s easier to stay motivated when you know you’re making measurable progress. When you visit your doctor, you can measure weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI) and other factors to establish benchmarks.

2) Set realistic goals. Discuss your current health and your goals with your doctor, who can help you set realistic goals. Whether it’s losing weight or lowering your blood pressure, your doctor can help you make safe, long-term changes.

3) Prevent injury. Make sure you’re healthy enough to start an exercise program. Now’s the time to ask about that nagging knee pain or shortness of breath. Your doctor can help advise on what’s “normal” and what may need further attention.

4) Build a support system. Your doctor can connect you to the specialists who can make your changes easier. Whether it’s a dietitian to revamp your eating habits or a physical therapist to learn how to properly exercise a surgically repaired knee, you’ll have more allies to help you meet your goals.

Don’t wait to start your journey to better health. Need a primary care physician? Click here to see a list of available physicians.