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5. Adjust Your Expectations continued...

Set short-term goals, Stevens and other say, instead of focusing on the 100 pounds. Think about it, for instance, as a plan to lose 20 pounds -- five times.

To stay motivated, set realistic goals beyond a specific number of pounds, advises Daniel Stettner, PhD, director of psychology at UnaSource Health Center, Troy, and adjunct professor of psychology at Wayne State University in Detroit. Think about getting to a certain weight, for instance, by a holiday -- Thanksgiving, Halloween, whatever -- when it's likely you'll be in a photo, he says.

Or think about an upcoming special event and decide you want to fit into a favorite, currently snug, dress or suit by then.

Focus on short-term weight loss goals that will help you meet the long-term ones, says Marisa Moore, RD, an Atlanta dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "If your goal is to drop three dress sizes, that's long term. Short term is answering the question, what am I going to do to get there?" You could cut a three soda-a-day habit to one a day, for instance, taking a week to do it. And you could park farther from stores, requiring you to walk more.

6. Develop a Healthy Selfishness

As Fletcher counseled overweight clients, she noticed that many women, in particular, had a difficult time putting themselves first. All day long, they'd help their spouse, family, friends, and co-workers. At the end of the day, these women were exhausted. And they often turned to food. "The only 'nice' thing they did for themselves was eat," she says.

"People who lose weight and keep it off have developed a kind of healthy selfishness," she says. That means saying no sometimes and putting yourself first at least sometimes.

One woman who learned ''healthy selfishness" told Fletcher she would do anything to stay on track, including carrying baked potatoes in her flight bag to avoid having to eat airport food.

The healthy selfishness helps, too, when dining out, Stettner says. "Pick a place that has the kind of food you want to eat."

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