A shocking two thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and most other countries see similar figures. Given that, there’s a good chance that you might be carrying some extra pounds which you want to shed.
Perhaps you’ve been on diets before, but they’ve never lasted more than a few days. You probably know how to eat more healthily, but you struggle to find the motivation, the energy or the time to actually do it.
If your New Year’s Resolutions have included “lose weight” every January for years and years, it’s time to make sure that 2010 is the year when your diet really does succeed. Here’s how:
- Get Determined
First off, do you really want to lose weight? Most successful dieters trace the start of their diet to a specific “aha” moment when something clicked for them. I was overweight for six or seven years – despite attempting a few half-hearted and short-lived diets – and it was only when I realized that I wanted to lose weight for me that I finally found the motivation to succeed.
Write down a list of reasons why you want to lose weight. Be honest! “Attract hot chicks” or “fit into my skinny jeans” might just be the reason that does it for you. “Live an extra ten years” can seem remote to many of us.
- Get Specific
How often have you told yourself something like, “I’m going to eat more healthily” or “I’m going to lose weight” or “I really should exercise more”? All of these are great ideas – the problem is, there’s nothing specific about them. If you ever talk to a life coach or personal development expert about goals, they’ll emphasize that your plans need to have a specific target.
How much weight do you want to lose? (10% of your starting weight is usually a realistic target.) How exactly will you eat more healthily – by having five portions of fruit and veg a day? By cutting out fatty snacks? You can’t keep track of your progress unless you know what you’re aiming for.
- Get Real
It’s all too easy to dream up grand plans and goals which simply don’t fit in with your life. If you work long hours, you’re unlikely to have the energy to cook elaborate, super-healthy meals from scratch each night. If you’ve got small children, you may find yourself resisting the urge to polish off their leftovers. And unless you’re very overweight, you’re not going to be able to safely and sustainably lose more than 2lbs per week.
It will take you a while to reach your ideal weight – so be realistic about this. Losing weight isn’t a race: building up healthy habits that’ll last a lifetime is much more effective than trying out a new fad diet every week.
- Get Writing
One simple trick that helps many dieters to succeed is to keep a food diary. Writing down everything you eat makes you think twice about whether you really need that cookie or that candy bar – and it also helps you get an accurate picture of your progress, and of the times or places when you’re likely to slip up.
I’ve kept food diaries in notebooks, as spreadsheets, or using online programs. It doesn’t matter how you keep your diary – the key thing is to fill it in each day and to record everything you eat. Many dieters like to track calories in their food diary, but you may find that simply writing down your meals and snacks is enough.
- Get Support
Finally, don’t forget to enlist a support team. An encouraging friend, partner or family member can help you get through the times when you want to give up. Having external accountability is a real boost to your will-power, too. You might find that it helps to buddy up with someone else who is dieting, or who has a similar long-term goal.
There are also a whole range of professionals who can offer assistance to dieters. Whether it’s a personal trainer at the gym to keep you on top of your game, or a life coach who helps you integrate your health goals with the rest of your life, expert help can make all the difference.
How are you going to make sure your diet really does succeed in 2010? What needs to change if you’re going to lose that weight for good? (If you’re a successful dieter, let us know your tips too!)
|Written on 12/26/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ([email protected]) or check out her website at Aliventures.||Photo Credit: brymo|