1. Be autonomously motivated – It’s great to be inspired to lose weight for a special occasion, a reunion or a party but studies have shown that the people who are most likely to maintain their weight loss are the ones who aren’t motivated by anything outside of themselves. These are people who have simply decided that it’s time for them to lose weight and improve their health.
2. Set realistic goals – Even with the best behavior-modification programs people can typically reduce their weight by 10 to 15 percent . If you try to lose 20 or 30 percent, you’re likely to either fail and be discouraged or simply regain the weight. By setting realistic targets you set yourself up for success, once the target has been reached it’s easier to define a new one with the confidence that comes from success.
3. Replace bad habits with good ones – There’s nothing wrong with having a snack in the afternoon, in fact it’s a great idea, just make sure that the food you chose is a piece of fruit or a low fat yogurt and not a donut.
4. You will have bad days, they come with the territory – It’s important to realize that. Factor disappointment into your overall plan. One day of weakness does not undo one month of hard work.
5. Think less about losing weight and more about gaining health – You may start out trying to fit into that new dress and wind up saving your life. Obesity is only one symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle. Think healthy, not just skinny. Diet sodas, Wow chips, and artificially sweetened candy bars may help you cut calories, but healthy they’re not. Each time you chew on a high- or low-calorie candy bar you miss a chance to swallow some phytochemicals neatly packaged in a wedge of watermelon or a handful of berries. Luckily, the same foods that cut your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke should help you trim that extra padding. Don’t think of them as punishment.
6. Shrink your servings – People who frequent restaurants are more likely to be overweight. That’s not only because of the type of food they eat but also the portion size. Restaurants find it extremely cost effective to serve large portions–the cost of food is a very small percentage of overhead, people get used to large portions and think that’s the norm.
7. Curb liquid calories – Liquid calories don’t trip our satiety mechanisms: you don’t feel full after a soda or juice although you may have just downed as many calories as a small meal.
8. Make movement part of your life – This doesn’t necessarily mean five sets of tennis or marathon running. Gardening, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, and washing windows also count. People who boost their lifestyle activity are just as successful at keeping the weight off as people who participate in formal exercise programs. In fact, overweight children lose more weight when told to limit sedentary activities than when told to exercise (or to do both). Getting kids to turn off the TV or spend less time at the computer works better than urging them to increase their aerobic activity.
9. Exercise for weight maintenance – Surprisingly, exercise doesn’t actually make much difference when you’re trying to lose weight. Fairly strenuous exercise-30 to 40 minutes three or four times a week-produces only a two to six pound weight loss over six months, that’s because exercise just doesn’t burn that many calories. However it is a great way to keep weight off and make you healthier, and as we keep saying the secret is to think about gaining health not losing weight.
10. Be patient – It’s not easy to make such a radical change in your lifestyle you’re relearning habits that may have taken you a lifetime to learn, so have a little patience with yourself.