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Want to shed pounds and keep them off? Stocking your shelves with healthy foods for low-fat meals is only half the battle. The right weight loss gear for the kitchen is a staple of a healthy lifestyle, too.

"People who lose weight and keep it off are meticulous about tracking their food intake and physical activity," says Anne Fletcher, MS, RD, author of several books about successful weight control, including Weight Loss Confidential: How Teens Lose Weight and Keep It Off And What They Wish Parents Knew.

Fletcher says knowledge is power. When you find yourself going overboard on your portions or your weight is creeping up, it's easier to pull back right away than to let it get out of control and have to deal with a bigger problem down the road.

Weight Loss Gear You Need

Food Scale: Proper portions are central to weight control. Many people who shed pounds permanently are keenly aware of serving sizes, even when the food is relatively low-calorie. A food scale helps you gauge servings of meat, poultry, seafood, and cheese portions. It's also useful for measuring bread and bagel weights, which tend to vary in density.

Measuring Cups and Spoons: Measuring cups and spoons track the volume of foods. Use a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup for fluids, such as fat-free milk, and a set of metal or plastic cups for solid measures, like whole grain cereal or cooked pasta.

Body Weight Scale: "Weigh-ins allow you to put a plan in place to immediately reverse weight gain," Fletcher says. Purchase a reliable scale and weigh yourself at regular intervals (every week or so, or more if you like) with the same amount of clothing on. Try to stay within three to five pounds of your goal weight.

Food and Activity Diary: Noting what you eat and how much you exercise allows you to tell if you're sticking with your weight loss plan. It may also cause you to pause and think hard about eating that donut or skipping your aerobics class. Your journal could be as simple as a small spiral-bound notebook. Or it could be more sophisticated. like Fletcher's Thin for Life Daybook.

Step Counter: Think you move around enough to keep your weight under control? Think again. Most people overestimate physical activity. Strap on a step counter for a few days, then calculate the average number of steps in your day. Is it the recommended 10,000? If not, add 2,000 steps daily until you reach 10K.

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