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Change Your Habits and Lose Weight for Good

Know Why You're In Transit

As part of your preparation, ask yourself: Why do I want to make changes?

Your reason will be most motivating when it's linked with a strong emotional state. Instead of simply “wanting to lose weight,” the reason could be “because I want to have more energy” or “not be in pain.”

"Rather than focusing on the weight you want to lose, focus on the feeling you want to have. As you create that experience, the weight will come off,” says Erik Hajer, a fitness and lifestyle coach in Boston.

Set up cues to remind you about your motivation. A good cue is one that you'll be sure to notice and that happens near the time for your healthy habit. You could open your blinds in the morning to cue you to take your vitamin, for example. Or, you could simply set an alarm.

Even when you take the actions you need, there's some chance that you might go back to your old ways. So have a clear sense of what you want. It's like an energy reserve. It gets you back on track when you need it.

Expect Curves Ahead

There are two important truths about change:

  1. It happens slowly, over time.
  2. The path to change most likely isn’t a straight line.

One day you might be meeting your goals. Then you have a stressful day or two at work, or yoga class is canceled -- and your motivation takes a hit.

At times like this, think about how to adjust your schedule to stay, or get back, on track. You have to map out a new plan.

That's OK. In fact, it’s normal to hit a few speed bumps on the road to changing your behavior for good.

Count on the fact that you'll lose your way. Just like an emergency kit in your car, you need to have tools ready for the unexpected.

Prepare by thinking of solutions for likely situations, such as these:

  • What will you do when a co-worker brings in homemade cookies?
  • How will you move on if you fall back into your old habits? For example, you overeat, or skip the gym?
  • What will you do when you feel stressed?
  • Who can you call for help?

"We expect our journey to be a straight path -- and when it’s not, we beat ourselves up or just quit altogether," says Sofia Rydin-Gray, PhD, of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, NC.

To help her clients have a less emotional response, she suggests you redirect yourself like your GPS does.

Your GPS is objective and doesn't blame you. It's programmed to know that you’re going to make mistakes and redirect you. If the new route doesn't work, it offers you another way.

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