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Long-Term Weight Loss: 5 Tips

You want to lose weight and keep it off, for good. These five strategies will help you do just that.

1. Set the Right Weight Loss Goals

Most people trying to lose weight focus on just that one goal: weight loss. But it's more productive to emphasize the dietary and exercise changes that will get you there.

Choose two or three goals at a time that you are willing to take on.

Keep in mind that effective weight loss goals are specific and realistic.

For example, "exercise more" is a wonderful goal, but it's not specific. "Walk five miles every day" is specific and measurable, but is it realistic if you're just starting out?

"Walk 30 minutes every day" is better, but what happens if work or weather interferes? "Walk 30 minutes, 5 days each week" is specific and realistic.

2. Hack Your Triggers

Are there situations that can make you want to eat more? Start noticing them. For example, you may learn that you're more likely to overeat while you're bored or stressed.

Then figure out ways to get around those triggers. Do something else to soothe your stress, for instance.

Also, you might want to put treats away. You're more likely to eat them if they're visible and easy to get to.

3. Fill Up on Food

That's right: You should feel full. But how you do that might surprise you.

It's mostly about time: 15 minutes, to be specific. You need at least that much time to feel full. So eat slower, giving your brain enough time to notice that you've eaten.

What you eat can also help. Think fiber (like fruits and vegetables) to fill up.

Another trick is to use smaller plates so that moderate portions do not appear too small.

Also, changing your eating schedule can help you reach your goal, especially if you tend to skip or delay meals and overeat later.

4. Reward Weight Loss Success (but Not With Food!)

An effective reward is something that is desirable, timely, and depends on meeting your goal.

Rewards may include treating yourself to a movie or massage, taking an afternoon off from work, or giving an hour of time to yourself.

Keep in mind that many small rewards, delivered for meeting small goals, are more effective than bigger rewards for things that take long, difficult effort.

5. Balance Your (Food) Budget

Jot down things like how much you exercise and what you eat. There are many apps that can help.

Doing this can really help you determine how you are doing and what you need to do to meet your weight loss goals.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 15, 2012
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