Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Top Ten Ways to Stick to a Diet by Christine

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." -- Chinese Proverb.

With warmer weather approaching, people are beginning to think of losing weight so they can look their summer “best”. Unfortunately, the first plan that springs to mind is to diet. Diets are easily sabotaged which leads to feelings of failure and the tendency to overindulge, whilst reprimanding ourselves for lack of control. Here are ten basic (and not new) guidelines to ensure your weight-loss routine is foolproof.

1. Exercise - exercise is probably the most important predictor of whether you will succeed at long term weight loss and maintenance. In order for exercise to be helpful in weight loss, you should aim for a minimum of five - 30 minute sessions per week. You can even break down the 30 minutes into 10 minute intervals (seems more palatable that way) Ensure you enjoy the activity as you'll be more apt to stick with it. Once you give exercise a chance, you will begin to enjoy its positive benefits on your psyche.

2. Pump Iron - There are significant weight loss benefits attached to weight lifting. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you will burn. In her book "Strong Women Stay Slim", Miriam Nelson, a Tufts University researcher, showed that a group of women who followed a weight loss diet and did weight training exercises lost 44 percent more fat than those who only followed the diet. Gyms may appear intimidating, but trust me, there will always be someone who looks more out of shape than you, and you have to give them kudos for following their routine.

3. Keep a Diary - Keeping an honest food diary can be a huge surprise when you realize the hidden daily caloric intake. It’s also important to note the time you are eating as well as how you are feeling at the time (bored, tired... etc.) Food diaries can identify emotions and behaviors that trigger overeating.

4. Stay Focused on Healthy, Not Thin - Crash diets make work in the short term but the end result is square one plus a few more pounds. You have to consciously make a life change in your eating habits rather than say, eat cabbage soup for three weeks.

5. Find Out What's Eating You - Overeating is triggered by stress, boredom, loneliness, anger, depression and other emotions. Learning to deal with emotions without food is a significant step in the right direction. The Solution, a book and national program developed by Laurel Mellin, R.D., helps participants to identify their eating triggers and respond to them without food.

6. Get Support - Find a weight loss/ exercise buddy. If you don’t know anyone that is willing to jump on the bandwagon, try a established group such as Weight Watchers, or TOPS. Many hospitals also have registered dietitians who conduct group weight loss programs.

7. Watch Your Portions - Remember the movie, “Supersize Me” and realize that our society overindulges in everything. Ask yourself, am I really that hungry? Chances are you could eat a third of the portion and be comfortably full. Also, forget what you parents taught you - you may leave food on your plate! Learn to pay attention to your hunger level and stop eating when you feel comfortably full, not stuffed.

8. Lose Weight Slowly With Small Changes - Diets that proclaim losses of 15 pounds in two weeks are misleading. You may lose a lot in water and/or muscle, but all is quickly regained the minute you began a regular eating regime. Fat loss is best achieved when weight is lost slowly. Strive for a weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week. By making small changes in your diet (ie: no more snacking after 7:00 pm) will show results.

9. Slow Down - Eat your food slowly. If it means count 25 chews for each mouthful, than do so. That way your brain has time to trigger whether you are becoming full. Gulping down food only leaves you feeling bloated and stuffed as your brain couldn’t keep up with your mouth.

10. Eat Less Fat, But Do It Wisely- Be aware of good fats versus bad fats, and don’t assume that a package claiming to be “fat free” is necessarily a good thing (the salt and sugar content alone is enough to pack on pounds)

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