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Realistic Expectations continued...

Experts say it's also important to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. A realistic resolution is one you can sustain for at least a year -- not just for a few weeks.

Of course you'd like to see those extra pounds gone in a hurry, but quick weight loss is usually not permanent weight loss, experts say. Diets that have strict rules, eliminate or severely restrict certain foods, or otherwise take a lot of effort are usually only successful in the short term. After all, anyone can lose weight eating mostly cabbage soup -- but how long could you keep that up?

"Very low-calorie diets lead to quick weight loss of not only fat but muscle and bone, too," says Agatson. "These diets also lower metabolism and when an individual goes back to eating the way they used to (because no one can live on cabbage soup), their slower metabolism will require fewer calories and, ultimately, they gain all the weight back and then some."

Top 10 Habits of Successful Resolvers

Now that you know some of the reasons so many people fall off the resolution wagon, here are 10 expert tips to help you stick with your own New Year's vows:

1. Have a Realistic Eating Plan

Agatston suggests an eating plan that has plenty of variety, yet is simple, interesting, and tastes good -- such as the Mediterranean-style diet with its "good carbs" from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; healthy fats from nuts, fish, and olive and canola oils; and lean protein. "There should not be so much confusion over what is the best kind of diet; these are the basics as recommended by the new [U.S.] dietary guidelines and pyramid," he says. "You can find an eating style that works in your life without weighing, measuring, or restrictive eating."

2. Believe in Yourself

Seeing is believing; once you see you are capable of making changes in your behavior, it inspires confidence. So says Canyon Ranch of Tucson's Director of Nutrition, Lisa Powell, MS, RD. "I ask my clients to imagine themselves practicing a particular behavior change two weeks out, two months out, two years out, and if the answer is 'no,' then we re-evaluate to make sure the goal is doable," Powell says. "Breaking down a lofty goal into smaller steps is often what is needed to gain the belief that you can do it."

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