8 Rules of long-term weight loss

1. Make the decision and commit to weight control as a top priority

People resist change. When you combine this psychological resistance t o change with the way your biology resists to weight loss, you have a mighty combination. If you want to succeed at maintaining weight loss over the long term, you must make a firm decision to commit to changes in how you think, eat, and move.
Weight loss cannot be at the bottom of your list of priorities. It must be a top prio rity to be successful. A truly dedicated commitment to the decision to lose weight and keep it off is essential. 

2. Understand and accept the enemy: your biology

Many people who have had a long-term weight issue complain that it is just too hard to lose weight and maintain the loss. They might even say that this is simply because their bodies resist this healthy weight. They are right. However, accepting that indeed your body does resist weight loss and long-term maintenance does not mean you cannot fight this biological fact. Rather than lament your biology, learn everything you can about how to resist your body’s resistance. The goal is to accept the ene my, not succumb to it.
Humans were hunter-gatherers for thousands of years. Our feet were our only form of transportation. We spent many hours hunting for food, which was not always in great
abundance. This meant our bodies had to hang on to fat to survive. The hunger-gatherer legacy is still with us in our sedentary fast-food society. In developed countries, we rarely go hungry or use our feet for transportation (other than from the front door to the car), but when we cut back on calories, the feast-or-famine biology kicks in and our bodies resist the loss of fat. Therefore, we must develop strategies to resist this resistance. Permanent weight loss becomes an athletic challenge.

3. Follow the seven rules of eating

Defying our biological resistance requires dedication and commitment. You are fighting your fat cells, hungry beasts who demand being fed. The daily food choices you make can help you control their demands and lose weight.
The seven things that have the most impact on your hunger and weight are: 

Eat Very Little Fat – Go as Low as You Can Go (<20 g per day) Control Sugar Consumption Eat Lean Sources of Protein, Emphasizing Plant Proteins Consume Low-Density Foods (e.g., soups, vegetables) Eat Fiber-Rich Foods (at least 30 g per day) Eat Your Calories – Don’t Drink Them Stay Calorie Conscious. “Follow a good diet plan”

4. Eat Well but Choose Right

Many overweight people find themselves so enamored with certain foods that they cannot imagine no longer eating them. They will say they “crave” chocolate or “love” ice cream. Because many of the most calorie-dense foods are associated with happy events, such as parties, birthdays, and holidays, we have made associations that equate cookies, cakes, and ice cream with love, happiness, friendship, and family. Some foods even have a tranquilizing effect on us, calming us when we feel angry, stressed, or upset. However, that calming effect is short-lived, but the effect on our weight continues long after period of indulgences.
The first thing you will need to do is understand what qualities in food appeal to you. There are four aspects to food that determine how much you love that food: taste, appearance, smell, and texture. Some people like creamy and sweet, some likely crunchy and salty. Most overweight people know which foods they tend to gravitate toward (and which ones tend to throw any diet plan into a tail spin).
As a weight controller you will want to emphasize the characteristics that please you. 

Some like it hot and spicy, some like it sweet! The four main taste groups are salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. When you eat, focus on the flavors of you food. There are many low-fat condiments that can make food taste more like the flavors you prefer. In most grocery stores you will see bottle after bottle of seasonings and flavor enhancers, from spice combinations to Worcestershire sauce. Of course, you should read the labels before you buy to make sure they are fat free.

We are attracted to foods that look appealing. If you have ever eaten in a five-star restaurant, you know that they pay as much attention to the presentation of the meal as they do the taste of the meal. Why not serve your meal so it looks like it came out of the kitchen of a top-notch restaurant?

Sometimes we are so anxious to dive into a meal that we forget to savor the smells of that freshly grilled chicken or fish. Savor the smells of you food before you begin eating.

Pay attention to how the food feels in your mouth when you eat it: the creamy texture of nonfat yogurt, the crunchy fresh snap of a carrot stick.
It is okay to love foods – you just want to make sure you choose foods that will love you back!

5. Move Your Body

Remember our discussion earlier about hunter-gatherers and how this biological legacy sets us up to store fat? This biological legacy also sets up to gain weight if we do not move our bodies. Without physical activity our muscles strength begins to diminish. Less muscle means less efficient burning of calories. Less efficient burning of calories means we are prone, once again, to storing fat. We put energy in our bodies in the form of calories, and we expend it through activity.
People believe it takes a lot of exercise to burn calories, but even moderate exercise on a daily basis burns calories.
Small changes in your activity can add to your fat-burning ability, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking a little farther away at the mall can add to your fat-burning potential throughout the day. You burn approximate the same number of calories walking three miles as you do running three miles, so you don’t have to become a marathon runner to see results through activity.
Many people believe exercise increases their appetite. While this might be true if you are exercising at the level of an athlete, moderate exercise can actually decrease appetite.
One of the great benefits of daily exercise is that your metabolic rate remains high and your body expends more energy all day. The benefits of exercise are not limited to the time when you are actually walking, swimming, or playing tennis.
You don’t need to wear yourself exercising. Your intensity level should allow you to complete a full 30 minutes of the activity. However, if you find that you have difficultly sustaining any sort of activity for 30 minutes, divide your exercise into two 15-minute sessions. You have probably heard that you need to maintain your target heart rate for at least 20 minutes to burn calories. However, once you begin exercising, you begin using calories. The difference is that at the beginning of exercise your body burns glucose, but after an extended time, you begin burning fat. However, as your body works to replenish glucose, it will always need to dip into the energy reserves of fat. This means you can burn fat whether you exercise for one 30-minute session or two 15-minutes sessions. 

6. Plan and Self-Monitor Daily

Planning in advance your meals and snacks will help you avoid situations where you are very hungry and unprepared – sudden hunger ‘emergencies’ can result in impulsive drive-through visits or eating whatever is available so quickly you forget to count it as part of your daily intake. Planning is the first step in the most important part of any successful weight control plan: self-monitoring. Study after study has shown it: weight controllers who write down what they eat and when they exercise are the most successful in losing and maintaining weight. Those who self-monitor generally lose more weight, have fewer set backs, maintain weight for longer periods of time, and maintain weight during highly stressful periods when food temptations abound, such as holiday gatherings.
Weight controllers who keep a written record of their daily eating and exercise tend to feel more committed to real changes in their lifestyle. The written record allows you to understand where you might need to improve your diet. It also allows you to set goals and meet them, which promotes self-esteem as you celebrate successful milestones. Imagine watching your exercise record go from 5000 steps a day to 15000 steps a day! When you look back at how tough those 5000 steps used to be, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment that you are now easily doing three times as many steps. 

7. Understand and Manage Stress

Most people who struggle with their weight certainly understand the role that stress plays in their patterns of eating. The goal of any serious weight controller is to learn how to deal with stress in new ways and to make sure that if you do overeat when under stress you do not choose foods that will put you back in a weight-gain spiral.
if you do deviate from your food plan, you deviate QUANTITATIVELY and not QUALITATIVELY. This means you continue to choose healthy, nutritious foods rather than start going “back” to high-fat, calorie-dense foods such as pizza, cookies, and other foods that tend to lead to long-term binges.
One of the main reasons it is important not to start eating high-fat, sugary foods during these high-stress periods is that it gives you a taste for those foods again. When you have avoided pizza and ice cream for many months, you will find them too rich and fatty. However, if you start to re-introduce them into your eating plan, you will begin to crave them on a regular basis.
Part of the process of losing weight is developing strategies in advance that will help you get through challenging events and periods of your life. How you view your weight control commitment will have a great amount of influence on how you deal with stress. If you view weight control in a negative light, it will be much easier to convince yourself that you “deserve treats.” If you view weight control in a positive light, it will be much easier to convince yourself that you “deserve health.” 

8. Learn to Deal with Set Backs

Weight loss and long-term weight management rarely happens in a linear fashion. Every weight controller will struggle with temptation, old habits, and times when the scale won’t seem to budge. It is important that you set realistic goals as well as workable plans for those “rough” days. For example, if you eat the wrong foods or too many foods one day, you have a plan to write down every extra calorie and then figure out how you will work that off with exercise the next day.
Dr. Kirschenbaum of Healthy Living Academies often talks about the “Honeymoon Stage.” This is when you are highly motivated at the beginning of a diet – you are seeing results, feeling great, walking and moving more – you feel as if nothing can stop you. This stage does not last forever. Temptations – not only to eat the “old way” but to sit on the couch and watch TV instead of taking that walk around the neighborhood – are bound to occur. Studies show that the longer you follow a healthy plan with daily self-monitoring, the easier it gets to stick to it. You will begin to really feel it when you don’t exercise – many report they feel down or depressed if they miss a couple of days of working out. Your body and mind begin to accept the new healthy lifestyle and over time you will find yourself developing strategies to keep yourself on track.
If you are aware of the types of events or situations that can trip you up, you will not need to beat yourself up – you will instead have an arsenal of weapons against these pitfalls or slumps.
The one thing successful long-term weight controllers have in common is the ability to face problems head on versus trying to escape or avoid the problems. They also tend to reach out for support from others more often than people who tend to regain their weight.

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