"What does it take to achieve healthy weight loss?" Adding to the difficulty is the abundance of fad diets and “quick-fix” plans that tempt and confuse us and ultimately usually do not work. No matter how peaceful your nature, when it comes to the battle of the bulge, you have to put up a good fight.

Weight management not only makes you look and feel better, it influences your future health. A healthy weight decreases your chances of developing serious health risks such as heart disease or diabetes.

If your last diet attempt wasn't a success, or life events have caused you to gain weight, don’t be discouraged. The key is to find a plan that works with your body’s individual needs so that you can avoid common diet pitfalls and instead make lasting lifestyle changes that can help you find long-term, healthy weight loss success.

Why do some weight loss programs fail?

Diets, especially fad diets or “quick-fix” pills and plans, often set you up for failure because:

You feel deprived. Diets that don’t allow certain types of food (carbs, fat, sugar) in moderation are simply not practical, not to mention unhealthy – eliminating entire food groups doesn’t allow for a healthy, well-rounded diet and creates imbalances in our bodies.

You “plateau” after losing a few pounds. There’s actually a second component to healthy weight loss: exercise. Often your body adjusts to a new way of eating, and it’s only with increased physical activity that the pounds will continue to melt away.

You lose weight, but can’t keep it off. Diets that severely cut calories, restrict certain foods, or rely on ready-made meals might work in the short term. However, once you meet your weight loss goal, you have no means of lifelong, healthy diet maintenance, and the pounds quickly come back.

After your diet, you seem to put on weight more quickly. Restricting your food intake slows down your metabolism – another reason why starvation or “fasting” diets are counterproductive.

You break your diet and feel too discouraged to try again. Just because you gave in to temptation and overindulged, doesn’t mean all your hard work goes down the drain. Healthy eating is about the big picture – an occasional splurge won’t kill your efforts. And again, diets that are too restrictive are conducive to cheating – when you feel deprived, it’s easy to fall off the wagon.

You lose money faster than you lose weight. Special shakes, meals, and programs may be cost-prohibitive and less practical for long-term weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.

You feel isolated and unable to enjoy social situations revolving around food. Without some practical, healthy diet strategies, you may feel lost when dining out or attending events like cocktail parties or weddings. If the food served isn’t on your specific diet plan, what can you do?

The person on the commercial lost 30 lbs in 2 months – and you haven’t. Diet companies make a lot of grandiose promises, and most are simply not realistic. Unfortunately, losing weight is not easy, and anyone who makes it seem that way is doing you a disservice. Don’t get discouraged by setting unrealistic goals!

Why do some weight loss programs succeed?

While there is no “one size fits all” solution to lifelong, healthy weight loss, try these tips:

Lifestyle Change – Permanent weight loss is not something that a “quick-fix” diet can achieve. Instead, think about weight loss as a permanent lifestyle change. You are making a commitment to your health for life. Various popular diets can help to jump-start your weight loss, but permanent changes in your lifestyle and food choices are what will work long term.

Find a cheering section – Social support means a lot. Seek out support, whether in the form of family, friends, or a support group, so that you can get the encouragement you need.

Commit to a plan and stick to it – Experiment until you find a good, long-term plan that helps you lose the weight and maintain that loss in a way that works for you. If you cut out just 100 calories a day you could lose 10 pounds in a year. Remember one 12 oz can of a popular soda contains 150 calories.

Lose weight slowly. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your nervous system, making you feel sluggish, drained, and sick. When you drop a lot of weight quickly, you’re actually losing mostly water and muscle rather than fat. Aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week to ensure healthy weight loss.

Stay motivated and keep track – Short-term goals, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually don’t work as well as goals like wanting to feel more confident or become healthier for your children’s sakes. Keep a food journal or weigh yourself regularly. Find and use tools that help keep you motivated. Stay focused: when frustration and temptation strike, concentrate on the many benefits you will reap from being healthier and leaner.

Weight loss bottom line Your weight is a balancing act, but the equation is simple: If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Gaining and losing weight (W) comes down to the simple calculation of calories consumed (CC), or in other words, what you eat, minus calories burned (CB) through metabolism and physical activity.


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