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   Jul 18

12 Tips to Lose the Weight for Good

Want to lose weight, but feel as though you’ve already tried every trick in the book? It’s time to take a different approach to dieting. Here are 12 proven strategies to help you slim down for good.

1. Change the way you describe your goals.

“Call it whatever you want, but don’t call what you’re doing a ‘diet,’ ” says David Grotto, RD, author of The Best Things You Can Eat.

“Diets have a beginning and an end — and that’s the problem.” You will only be successful, Grotto says, when you make a lifelong commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

2. Make your goal meaningful.

Shift your focus from “I want to fit into that swimsuit that I haven’t worn in 10 years” to “I want to feel good and have more energy.” The latter reason reflects what’s called intrinsic (or internal) goals, which tend to have greater staying power over time.

Concentrating on the feel-good, health-promoting benefits of your efforts will help keep you engaged.

3. Review your history.

Consider what you’ve done in the past to try to lose weight — then ditch what didn’t work, and think about what you could do differently this time.

If your downfalls were snacking at the office and waiting until the end of the day to exercise, you might decide to pack a healthy snack to take with you each day and go for a run first thing in the morning before unpredictable demands can get in the way of your good intentions.

4. Create a supportive environment.

“Our environments have a major influence on our ability to change our habits,” says John C. Norcross, PhD, psychology professor and author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

That’s why it’s smart to do things that will help, not hinder, your weight loss. If you want to make that early-morning jog happen, lay out your running gear before going to bed. Want to get in the habit of snacking on fruit, not chips? Put a bowl of fresh apples or pears on your kitchen table or counter. In other words, make it easy and convenient to keep yourself on track.

5. Form a fan club.

Tell supportive friends, family members, and colleagues about the changes you’re trying to make, Norcross says. Maybe you don’t want them to remind you of what you are or aren’t supposed to eat, but you would like them to give you ongoing encouragement or pep talks when you need them. Don’t leave this up to them to figure out. Tell them what you need and how they can help.

6. Be flexible.

Something is bound to pop up that can potentially throw you off track (the grocery store sells out of baby carrots, or your favorite Zumba class moves to a new time).

Expect the unexpected. You might have to create a contingency plan on a moment’s notice — like trying a new class at the gym, or buying celery or snap peas to go with your hummus.

The key is to be ready, willing, and able to revise your routine and find ways around obstacles, Norcross says. Just don’t let one wrench in your plan throw off your whole routine.

7. Be your own BFF.

“When you miss the mark, show yourself some compassion. You’ll avoid letting a slip become a fall,” Norcross says. His research on New Year’s resolutions found that most people who succeed at keeping them say their first slipup strengthened their resolve.

So give yourself a pep talk, just as you would a close friend. Then dust yourself off, learn from the lapse, and pick up where you left off.

8. Tune into your hunger.

To prevent overeating, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being famished; and eat when you’re in the middle of the scale, says psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD.

If you know you won’t be able to eat later, have a snack or small meal when your hunger is low. This helps you avoid getting overly hungry, which can set you up for overeating later on.

9. Make yourself accountable.

Keep a food and exercise diary — on paper, online, or with an app on your phone. The log will help you track your efforts.

Consistently recording your eating and exercise habits and weighing yourself regularly are essential to lasting weight loss. Seeing the results you want provides positive reinforcement. Monitoring also helps you to catch small, unwanted weight changes, so you can tweak your behavior.

Which monitoring method works best? The one that works best for you and that you are most likely to do.

10. Know your emotional triggers.

Using food to cope with boredom, frustration, stress, anger, or sadness can sabotage your efforts, Becker-Phelps says.

Make sure your emotions don’t get the best of you. Figure out what helps you relax and focus your attention in a positive way, like listening to music, taking a soothing bath, chatting with a friend, or going for a walk.

11. Make sleep a priority.

Studies have found that not getting enough sleep triggers hormonal changes that can lead to feeling hungrier.

Bottom line: There’s no underestimating the importance of a good night’s rest — the recommended amount for adults is 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye per night.

12. Practice mindful eating.

Chew your food thoroughly, and put your fork down between bites. Eating more slowly will help you appreciate your food more — and “give your stomach a chance to notify your brain that you’ve had enough,” Grotto says.

Once you get that signal, “put down your fork and ask yourself, ‘Can I stop eating now and walk away from this table satisfied?’ ” Grotto suggests. If the answer is no, eat some more. If the answer is yes, push your plate aside and focus on the conversation or something other than the food.

David Grotto, MS, RD, LDN, Chicago nutritionist; author, The Best Things You Can Eat, Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2013.
John C. Norcross, PhD, psychology professor, University of Scranton; author, Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions, Simon & Schuster, 2013.
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD.
Teixeira, P. Obesity, April 2010.
Teixeira, P. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, January 2006.
Shay, L. Eating Behavior, December 2009.
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Spiegel, K. Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 7, 2004.
van Strien, T. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, June 2014.
Greene, J. Journal of Primary Care Community Health, July 1, 2013.

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