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This year, take a new approach to weight loss
Diets that promise quick weight loss aren't usually successful. But making simple changes to your eating and exercise habits can be.
If you're overweight, chances are you're starting the new year with an old, familiar resolution: to take off a few pounds. This year, you say, you're going to keep them off too.
That's the attitude to have. To truly succeed, however, you may need a strategy other than simply dieting.
Dieting is generally considered a temporary activity. And temporary solutions may bring only temporary results.
The key to long-term weight-loss success is to look at your lifestyle and habits. Making small changes that you can live with can bring big rewards.
Slow and steady
Most of us want excess weight off right away. So diets that promise quick results sound appealing.
The problem is these diets don't tend to be the most effective. Quick weight loss is often a result of losing muscle and water, not just body fat.
Losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a reasonable goal. That adds up. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight may improve your health—perhaps before you notice any changes to your appearance.
Start keeping a food journal—a running tally of the foods and beverages you consume each day. Many of us eat more than we realize. Seeing it in black and white might help you identify where you can cut back and what you can change in your current eating plan.
Here are some other tips to help get you started, with information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Heart Association:
Don't skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast may make you more likely to snack before—or overeat during—lunch.
Measure your portions. What you consider one serving may actually be several. Using a smaller plate can help too.
Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are generally low in calories and loaded with nutrients. Plus, they help fill you up.
Replace higher-fat, higher-calorie foods with more healthful alternatives. For example, instead of snacking on chips, crunch some carrot sticks. Or, if you'd ordinarily have a milkshake when eating out, order milk instead. Make it nonfat rather than whole milk, and you'll save an additional 65 calories.
Eat more slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes to recognize when you're full. Slow down and you may not feel like having a second helping.
Make exercise a priority. Schedule your physical activity and treat it like any other appointment. One simple tip: Get a pedometer. See how many steps you normally take each day—and increase it by 1,000 steps per week until you reach 10,000 steps per day.
Don't go it alone
Talk to your doctor or a dietitian for more weight-loss tips. With their help, this can be the year of a trimmer, healthier you.