Monday, November 3, 2008

Increase Your Chance of Successful Weight Loss

How can we figure out what works to help individuals lose weight? One way is to study people who have lost weight successfully and see what they all have in common. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found some key behaviors people practiced which increased their odds of keeping off the weight.

1. Flexibility with the diet they follow: If it's easy to make changes and substitutions, people are more easily able to adhere to their diet plan. When you follow a diet that is very strict and does not allow flexibility, it's hard to stay on it. Simply going out to a restaurant with friends could sabotage your efforts if menu items are not exactly what is 'on' your diet.

2. Structured timing of meals: When people eat their meals at regularly scheduled times they are more successful at losing weight. Eating at erratic times or forgetting to eat a meal altogether does not help develop healthy eating habits that lead to weight loss.

3. Food choices: Dieters who have more food choices are able to stay with their regimen longer. If you try to follow a diet that is too restrictive it can get frustrating early on and lead you to stray.

4. Physical activity: Like it or not, the fact is that increasing physical activity helps weight loss. This does not mean you have to start jogging or going to the gym every day. Find ways to increase your activity like parking farther away to increase your walking distance, taking stairs instead of the elevator (even for one or two floors if you're going up several), and discovering an activity you enjoy such as tennis or dancing.

5. Coping with stress. Those who are successful at losing weight have found coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Instead of eating they have figured out what helps them to relax: calling a friend; going for a walk; taking a bubble bath or reading a good book. Learn what helps you calm down instead of turning to food when the daily fires throw you for a loop.

How does your weight loss plan fit in with these successful strategies? Make a serious effort to find a plan that allows you more food choices and flexibility. Be sure to get on a regular meal schedule and be consistent with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks that are included in your meal plan. Do some thinking about what you can try when you find yourself turning to food for reasons other than hunger. Get out there and enjoy a new activity, and see your success at weight loss soar!

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