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Change Your Habits and Lose Weight for Good

By Michelle Burford
WebMD Feature

You know you want to make a change. You want to see what life is like without extra weight on your body and on your mind. You're committed to making a change for the better.

To make it happen, think of your habits like a road trip. Your next steps become clear, and you start to see your destination ahead.

Map Out Your Route

Just like you'd make a plan for a long road trip, you'll want to take time to think about how to map out healthy habits to take you to your goal. Planning can also get you psyched up about new things to try or doing things you enjoy. Here are tips to help you plan your habits, your support, and your mind-set.

Prepare for each destination. Think about what you’ll need to stick to your new habits everywhere you go: home, work, favorite restaurants, and other places you go often.

For instance, what would your perfect, most motivating kitchen have? Cut-up colorful vegetables ready for you in the fridge? Apples in the fruit basket? Sheer curtains to let the light in?

If you often go to potlucks, what would make you feel the best about your choices when it's over? To bring something you'll feel OK about eating? To ask the other guests to bring only healthy options? Have someone else fill your plate so you don't have to recommit at every dish? There are lots of solutions that are true to your goals. Think creatively, and ask someone you trust to help.

Plan for the family and friends you'll see along the way. There will be people who are for you -- happy to support you in your weight loss. And there will be people who aren't so supportive. You may already know who they are.

You need to be prepared for both types.

Think of each person you spend time with in your daily life, and ask yourself these questions to set up a game plan:

  • How much do you want to share with them about your efforts?
  • What kinds of obstacles do you expect from them? What are a few ways you can respond to them?
  • What kinds of help do you hope they'll offer you? Think through the best way to talk with them about what you need. Don't be afraid to be specific about what helps you and what doesn't.

Check your readiness to drive. Even with help and support, the buck stops with you. What can you do to set yourself up for success?

For instance, are you wondering if you really can meet your goal? Now's the time to identify and sort out those feelings.

To change behavior, experts say you must be able to do the required new habits. So, it's key that you choose habits that you can follow through with.

Let's say you've picked a food plan with foods or styles of eating that you don't like -- say, one that asks you to cook everything yourself, and that’s not realistic for you. Or you pick one that's impossible for you to stick with, like eating cabbage soup twice a day. If you keep moving forward with that plan instead of adjusting it, you're crushing your ability to succeed.

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