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Don't Get Burned by Diet Burnout

How to stay psyched for the long term

Avoiding Burnout

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, of Cincinnati's VA Medical Center, offers these 10 tips for avoiding burnout and staying motivated:

  • Work on one goal at a time. Rather than vowing to give up soda, desserts, and fried foods all at once, start gradually -- say, by switching to diet drinks. "Once you've mastered that goal, you'll gain confidence to work on another," says Andrews.
  • Make a plan. Don't get caught with an empty stomach in a boardroom full of doughnuts. Plan healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent temptation.
  • Find an exercise buddy. A companion will keep you entertained while you exercise and will keep you accountable for your workouts.
  • Get some new food ideas. Dieters often lose motivation when they get bored with the same old low-calorie foods. For meal planning and menu ideas, check out the Weight Loss Clinic's recipe collection, and visit these message boards: Ask the Dietitian, "Recipe Doctor," and Snack Attack!
  • Treat yourself (not to food, of course) whenever you meet a goal. Buy a new DVD or exercise outfit, or get a massage, manicure, or facial.
  • Don't sabotage yourself. For example, "don't volunteer to bake cookies for the kids' bake sale if you're too tempted to sample the goods," Andrews says.
  • Allow yourself an "off-limits" food at least once a week. "No one can diet 24/7," Andrews says. "If that chocolate craving just won't go away, give in to a fun-sized candy bar and move on."
  • Aim for short bouts of activity throughout the day to burn extra calories. Skip the phone call or email, and deliver a message in person. Climb the stairs to the office restroom on the third floor. Chase your 3-year-old around your living room for 10 minutes.
  • Buy an affordable piece of exercise equipment you'll actually use and put it where you'll see it. "You can't use bad weather as an excuse not to exercise if the treadmill is in your bedroom," Andrews says.
  • Stay positive. "Think of dieting as taking care of your health, not as punishment."

Reviewed on February 24, 2006

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