Permanent weight loss is a slow and steady proposition. Give yourself a year or more to adopt new eating habits. Meanwhile, you may lower your risk of such disorders like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP
Promise yourself that this diet will be your last. Repeated losses and gains rob your body of muscle tissue, increase your risk of disease, and—most discouraging of all—contribute to the tendency to regain fat.
Evaluate Whether or not you really need to lose weight. If an extra ﬁve pounds isn’t causing or aggravating a medical condition, it may be healthier to accept yourself as you are.
Forget ideal-Weight charts. Think of a weight you were able to maintain comfortably for longer than six months and aim for that goal.
Accept the reality that body shape and size are Largely determined by genetics. Try to reach the weight that’s right for you—not an idealized image—and stay there.
If you are obese, discuss a Weight-loss plan With your physician. Obesity is commonly deﬁned as Weighing more than 20 percent above the desired weight for someone of your height and body type. Risks include high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and other illnesses.
You have a health problem that’s caused or exacerbated by your weight, such as elevated blood cholesterol or diabetes, losing pounds can bring significant improvements—even if you still weigh Well above What is considered ideal.
Assess your potential for success in dieting. Do you recognize the need for a nutritional overhaul—not just a diet that you will abandon as soon as you’ve achieved your weight-loss goals? Can you handle the stresses at home and on the job pretty Well? If you answer no to either question, consider postponing your diet.
Analyze your own needs. If you lack motivation, you may do best in a program that offers peer-group support. Choose a reducing program that encourages a slow, steady loss (about a pound or less a Week for Women, two pounds or less weekly for men) and focuses on changing habits.
Avoid diets based on one food or food group. Be Wary of any eating plan that veers too far from the food pyramid.
Recognize the signs of eating disorders. The most common are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Anorexics starve themselves. Bulimics alternate between binge eating and purging. The disorders often cause serious health problems, so consult a physician if you have developed either disorder—or both of them.
Take a “before” picture of yourself and look at it now and then Each time you shed 10 pounds, take another picture of yourself. Compare it to the “before” picture and enjoy the new you.
Make weight loss your top priority. At the beginning of each week, enter “appointments” on your calendar for exercise and support group sessions.
If you plan to eat at a restaurant, ﬁnd one that offers low-fat fare.
Make a list of nonfood treats, like a new compact disc, ﬂowers, or a manicure. Reward yourself with something on the list each time you achieve a small goal.
When anger, boredom, or loneliness makes you want to eat, take a deep breath, hold it for a second or two, and exhale slowly. Repeat this two or three times. Try to identify what sparked the impulse to eat. Let yourself experience the feeling for a few moments to realize that you can survive without resorting to food.
Give yourself time to adjust to a changed diet. After several months of retraining your taste buds, you may actually crave low-fat fare.
Be aware of little changes that can make a big difference. For example, if you are in the habit of using bottled Italian salad dressing, by switching to the reduced-calorie version, you may save approximately 100 calories with each two-tablespoon serving of dressing.
Read at least one magazine or newspaper article about nutrition each week. Resolve to learn more about food and how your body uses it.
STAVE OFF A FOOD BINGE
Examine your cravings. Identify the food that you yearn for the most.
Plan to have the food at a precise time and place. Plan where you will sit when you eat it. Stay in control.
At the prearranged moment, indulge in the food craving. Notice if it allows you to avoid an all-out eating binge.
If you do go on a binge, forgive yourself. Then get back on track with your next meal.
AVOID FAT TRAPS
Choose such low-fat foods as fruits, vegetables, breads, and grains. You can also consume lean meat, some fish and shellﬁsh, and skinless poultry.
Add little or no fat to prepared foods. If you must spread something on bread, rolls, and baked potatoes, use olive oil, or reduced-fat tub or squeezable margarine’s.
Select condiments with care. “try to avoid tartar sauce, which is high in fat, and mayonnaise, which is virtually pure fat. Replace mayonnaise with mustard or steak sauce (unless you need to avoid heavily salted food).
Have pancakes with syrup (a modest amount) but no butter or margarine. Snack between meals. Keep fresh fruit, buttered popcorn, or a plain bagel within reach in case you get hungry. You’ll find that it’s easier to resist the temptation at mealtime if you’re not ravenous.
Before dinner, munch on fresh raw vegetables. Be sure to avoid high-calorie dips.
Before dessert, go for a walk. It takes several minutes for your mind to catch up with the fact that your stomach is full. If you allow time between your main course and dessert, you’ll tend to eat less.
COOK THE LOW-FAT WAY
Cook with little or no fat. Steaming, stir-frying, grilling, broiling, baking, and roasting are among the best techniques for preparing meat and poultry. Grill or broil fattier ﬁsh, such as salmon. Poach or microwave such lean ﬁsh as ﬂounder and haddock.
An experiment in the kitchen. Turn favorite recipes into low- fat fare by cutting down on the amount of oil or eliminating it. When possible, try nonstick cooking sprays. Cook with nonstick pots and pans.
Use potatoes instead of cream to thicken homemade soups. Boil a couple of peeled, quartered white potatoes, along with onion if you like, until soft. Puree in a food processor or blender Lmtil smooth and stir into the soup.
Drink water before and during meals. It will help you feel full sooner.
WORK OUT OFTEN
Find an exercise that appeals to you and do it regularly. Better yet, ﬁnd two different types of exercises—one aerobic, one strength-building—and do them regularly (see “All About Aerobics” and “Building Muscles,” ).
Try to include exercise in your schedule daily. The more demanding the workout, the more calories you Will burn. Even activities that don’t expend many calories can relieve stress, increase energy levels, and give your self- esteem a boost (see “A Lifetime Concern,”).
Stay active after you’ve reached your goal. More often than not, the dieters who keep off the weight they have lost are those who continue to exercise regularly. A vigorous Workout can burn calories for as long as 12 hours after you have stopped exercising.
Continue to Work out as you age. Not only does exercise help you stay in shape, but such activities as Walking and running can help prevent the bone loss that often comes With age.
FOLLOW THE NEW RULES
Count grams of fat, not just the calories consumed. The percentage of daily calories from fat is generally more important in determining your Weight than your caloric intake. Some diet experts recommend that meals and snacks contribute at most 25 percent fat to your diet.
Measure yourself every two weeks during the ﬁrst month, then once a month. Body measurements may be the best way initially to chart your diet progress. Besides, lost inches are a more tangible sign of success than lost pounds.
If you prefer using a scale, weigh yourself no more than once every two weeks at the same time of day and Without shoes.
Make changes one at a time. Once you’ve eliminated fried foods, for example, wait until you’ve adjusted to that dietary shift before eliminating nuts, cookies, or other high-fat foods.
Focus on health, not Weight. Except for the few people who have medical complications, eating a healthy diet and exercising several times a Week Will result in your losing weight and keeping it off. Accentuate the long-term beneﬁts of health, instead of merely going on a diet.
Avoid very-low-calorie, low carbohydrate diets that promise quick weight reduction. You may shed pounds quickly from the loss of Water; however, once you resume eating normally, the water weight will return.
DEVELOP GOOD HABITS
Find a relaxing place to eat.
Don’t dawdle in the kitchen either before or after a meal.
Avoid eating late in the day, or within three hours of bedtime.
Pinpoint the time of day when you’re most likely to give in to temptation. Then schedule an exercise class or other activity for that period.
Set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes whenever you feel famished. Return a phone call or walk around the block. Hunger pangs should pass before the buzzer sounds.
Don’t skip meals or limit yourself to fewer than 1,200 calories daily. If you do, your metabolism may slow down, so that you will burn calories slowly. Fasting may make you more inclined to binge.
Go easy on yourself. An occasional indulgence is perfectly ﬁne. Vowing never to eat your favorite foods is unrealistic and frustrating.
Maintain the illusion of a hearty meal with less-than hearty servings. Serve dinner on a sandwich plate, rather than a dinner plate.
Avoid alcohol while dieting. The calories from alcohol supply no nutrients, whereas fruits, vegetables, and other high-ﬁber, nutrient-dense foods are good for you and make you feel full.
Write down everything you are about to eat just before you eat it. Studies have shown that this strategy alone leads to weight loss.