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Weight Loss as Easy as 1-2-3

A guide to the 3 stages of the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic plan

Stage One: Orientation continued...

Now is the time to break free from patterns or foods that cause weight gain. So no more skipping meals! Breakfast really is one of the most important meals of the day; don't leave home without it. A good strategy is to divide your eating plan into three or more meals, so you eat nutritiously and often. All your meals and snacks should contain both lean protein and complex carbs (such as fruit and yogurt) to help you feel satisfied until the next meal.

Learning to manage hunger is another centerpiece of weight control. You know what happens when you don't -- you get so ravenous that you eat everything in sight. Distributing your food intake throughout the day will help you stay away from the cookie jar. Use the journal to get familiar with your own eating patterns, and find foods on your plan that help you get through the day without bingeing. I reach for spicy tomato juice or a hot cup of tea when I feel hungry between meals. Find the foods that work for you -- and don't forget to plan nourishing snacks to enjoy during the day.

Since we're changing unhealthy habits, this is also the time to say goodbye to a sedentary lifestyle. Getting started might simply be moving more during the day (for example, fitting in 10-minute walks whenever you have time) -- or it could mean joining a gym for formal workouts. You get to choose. All we ask is that you commit to do a little something each day, and aim for getting the national recommendation of 60 minutes a day.

That may sound like a lot, but remember that several short bouts of activity can add up to your daily total. Just do the best you can, and remember any activity is better than none! For suggestions tailored to fit your lifestyle and physical needs, visit our fitness guru Rich Weil

Stage 2: Getting Comfortable

After several weeks of adjusting to your new and improved lifestyle, you should be developing a healthier relationship with food. Eating nutritious foods and getting physical activity have become part of your daily routine.

Friends and family have started to notice the new you. Your clothes are looser, and the numbers on the scale and tape measure are going down. You have more energy, and you're feeling pretty good. Pat yourself on the back; you deserve kudos for a job well done!

But even as you congratulate yourself, don't get too comfortable. It is so easy to slide back into old habits. After an initial burst of energy and enthusiasm, you can become lax about portion sizes, exercise, and/or journaling. That's when you hit a weight loss plateau.

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