If you want to lose weight and keep it off forever, you not only have to eat right and exercise, but also be persistent. To succeed, you have to actually change your behavior--for good.
Look at it this way: It isn't a diet. It's a lifestyle change.
Dr. Jessica Bartfield, an internal medicine and medical weight-loss specialist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Maywood, Illinois, says you must be ready to face setbacks--and keep on trying.
"Behavior change is the cornerstone of healthy, successful weight loss and it takes about three months to establish a new behavior," she says.
Americans are not known for their weight loss success. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 66 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Despite a huge, billion-dollar weight-loss industry, it's estimated only 20 percent of Americans who lose weight actually keep it off after one year.
"Changing behavior is tough. It is actually a skill and needs to be approached that way," Bartfield explains. "When you learn to ride a bike, you expect that you will fall down a couple times and are prepared to try again and get back on. You need to have the same expectation with weight loss and to plan accordingly."
So if you're going to change your behavior, where do you begin?
Eating within one hour of awakening can boost your metabolism up to 20 percent for the rest of the day.
Weigh yourself once a week.
Monitoring your weight on a weekly basis provides a fairly accurate weight trend and early detection of weight regain, which allows you to change your behavior accordingly.
Get in one hour of moderate physical activity each day.
You don't have to run like a hamster on a wheel for 60 minutes. Snow shoveling, gardening, vacuuming and taking the stairs all count. Just make sure it adds up to an hour. Or you can take three, 20-minute brisk walks.
Watch fewer than 10 hours of TV per week.
You may think you don't have time to exercise or cook healthy meals. Count up the hours you spend watching television and use that time for exercising and cooking.
DON'T DO THIS:
Overestimate the amount of physical activity you get.
It's easy to think you have done more than you really did. So measure it! Keep an activity journal that lists everything you do each day. Also, wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take. Aim for 10,000 a day.
Underestimate caloric intake.
Write down what you eat and how many calories you're consuming.
Set unrealistic goals.
Make specific, measurable goals that you can attain.
Don't say: I will exercise more.
Do say: I will walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
--From the Editors at Netscape