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7 Diet Mistakes and Fast Fixes

"I'm eating lots of low-fat foods"

And you're not losing any weight, right? There's a reason why. "Research shows that if you tell a person that a food is low-fat, she'll take a larger serving," says Somer. And more food — even if it's nonfat — means more calories.

Fast Fix

Read labels carefully. The front of the package can make all kinds of cheerful claims ("Half the fat!"), but the cold facts are in the nutrition information. You'll find, for example, that those delicious SnackWell's Fat Free Devil's Food Cookies are 50 calories each. (So you might want to put that second one down.) And those low-fat Cheez-Its? Sure, they're only 130 calories a serving. But that's just 29 measly crackers — you can eat that in one minute alone.

Next Time

Eat your greens. Veggies are low in calories and also extra filling. A study from Pennsylvania State University showed that women who ate a large low-cal salad (lettuce, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and cucumber tossed with fat-free dressing and light cheese) before lunch felt so full, they ate less at the meal.

Let yourself have the low-cal dressing. It won't throw off your numbers, and it may encourage you to eat more of these salad superfoods.

"I haven't exercised in a week"

You kicked your walking shoes under the bed, threw a blanket over your treadmill, and are driving the long route to work so you don't have to see all the walkers in your neighborhood. We understand — it's hard to get motivated after you've missed a few days of exercise. But those skipped days can easily turn into weeks, so it's important to start up again fast. Here's the good news: "Fitness is the one thing that comes back pretty quickly," says Fernstrom. "By the end of a month, you should be close to where you were before."

Fast Fix

"Go out and walk for 10 minutes," advises Dr. Wyatt. "And tell yourself you can stop at that point if you want. Yes, you might quit in 10 minutes. But once you're out on the sidewalk, you'll probably keep walking."

Next Time

Buddy up. "If you have an exercise partner, it's easier to stay committed," says Dr. Wyatt. So enlist a friend to walk with you every day. Short on buddies? Visit walkers.meetup.com to find folks in your area.

Find a fun exercise. "If your workout is drudgery, you won't do it," says Fernstrom. So if you've worn out the treadmill at the gym, take an aerobics class instead. Or try these fun alternatives (they all burn more calories per hour than walking): ballet or swimming laps (422), biking or playing Ping-Pong (281).

"I haven't weighed myself all week"

If you know the news will be bad, who can blame you? But that's just the time to step on the scale. Once you know the worst, you can act before a few extra pounds become 10.

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