If you have ever thought about dieting, you know how confusing it can be to find the right weight loss plan. Everywhere you look, there is a jumble of conflicting information – the latest fad diets all claim that they have the ultimate answer to weight loss, whether low-carb, low-cal, or the newest and best “super food” that guarantees instant success.
But most of these weight loss plans really are fads – they are here today, only to be replaced tomorrow by the next diet rage. Some diets can help you lose weight, but in the end, research has shown that 95% of all dieters gain back most or all of the weight they have lost within a year.
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So is there any hope that you will ever lose your unwanted pounds and keep them off? Fortunately, the answer is yes – while there is no magical weight loss solution, you can achieve and maintain a healthy body weight if you follow these guidelines.
- Stop dieting.
You heard right – although a diet can help you lose weight in the short term, you are likely to gain it back once you return to your normal eating habits. Instead, focus on making good nutrition a lifelong habit. Include plenty of whole grains, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables, using sweets and fats only sparingly.
- Practice portion control.
Most of us consume far more calories than we really need. The key to losing weight is to use more calories than you consume, so learn to eat reasonable portions (the USDA serving recommendations are a good guide).
- Eat more frequently.
Each time you eat a meal, your metabolism kicks into high gear to digest your food. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can keep your metabolism running longer, giving your body the chance to use more of the calories you consume.
Physical activity is vital if you expect to lose weight. By building more muscle mass, you will be able to burn more calories. Exercise also boosts your endorphin levels, leaving you feeling energized, positive, and self-confident.
- Set realistic goals.
Rather than dieting to fit into an impossibly small dress, or to look like your neighbor’s 16-year-old daughter, set realistic, healthy goals that you can achieve. For example, you might resolve to finish a 5K walk for charity, or to make it up a flight of stairs without stopping to catch your breath.
- Allow yourself to “cheat” once in a while.
You are much more likely to stick to a long-term plan for healthy living if you allow yourself to indulge in your favorite treats once in a while. Some weight loss experts recommend taking a day off every week – allow yourself to eat whatever you want (within reason) on a Saturday, for example, and stick to your healthy meal plan for the rest of the week.
- Recruit a cheering section.
You are far more likely to succeed at losing weight if you have the support of those around you. Get your family members to help keep you motivated, or join a weight loss support group. When you become discouraged, you will always have someone to cheer you on and get you back on track.