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The best ways to lose weight and eat healthfully in the new year.

When it's resolution time, the first thing on your list may be to lose weight and eat more healthfully. But how exactly do you go about doing that -- and how do you keep yourself from becoming a resolution dropout before long?

To draw up a list of the absolute best diet and nutritionresolutions, I consulted weight loss experts around the country. Here are their suggestions for some tried-and-true -- and very doable -- behavior changes that will help you lose weight.

1. Stack the odds in your favor. We all have our own particular strengths and weaknesses. Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, advises playing up your strengths and making a plan to avoid getting sidetracked by your weaknesses. Don't simply wish you could do better this time -- take concrete steps to ensure that you do, says Tallmadge, author of Diet Simple. For example:

  • If you reach for high-calorie foods because they're convenient, make sure you have healthy alternatives available. Go grocery shopping at least weekly to stock up on wholesome foods. Keep a list so you have enough for the week.
  • If you're a social eater, plan non-food events with your friends. Take walks, go sightseeing, go to a movie or take a hike.

2. Get the rest you need. Susan Moores, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant from St. Paul, Minn., is excited about recent research on the hormonal effects that sleep deprivation can have on appetite. Hers is a resolution you don't see often -- and one most people will welcome hearing.

3. Give yourself permission to be human. Anne Fletcher, MS, RD, author of the Thin for Life books, suggests a resolution that allows you to slip up without going into a slide. People who lose weight and keep it off know how to pick themselves up after they slip. Gained some weight on vacation? No problem. Just get right back into healthy eating and exercise to lose the extra pounds.

4. List the eating and exercise habits you'd like to change, and select one to work on. Don't try to change a second habit until the first one has become a habit, says Boston-based nutrition consultant Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD. A list of habits is easier to tackle than sweeping resolutions, she says. "Resolutions imply major changes that appear doable and seem downright insurmountable by two to three weeks out, largely because most people are not ready to make a change but think they should because of the New Year," says Ward, author of Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids.

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