There are as many ways to lose weight as there are ways to derail your diet. So, whether you attend Weight Watchers, count calories, avoid carbs or undergo bariatric surgery, it's really about sticking with it. Your head can help the rest of your body.
Set attainable goals
Bathed in the sunshine of good intentions, we make plans with the steely determination of Superwoman: I will jog before dawn...scramble egg whites for breakfast...do aerobics, yoga and kickboxing...skip lunch...switch to black coffee...live at the gym.
No goal is too high. No number on the scale is too low. Soon, though, the stresses of everyday life interrupt our fantasies of looking like a Vogue cover girl.
Remember that magazine and runway models are thinner than 98 percent of American women.
Maybe you'll never dust off those dorm-room denims. But you could go down a size and buy a fabulous new pair.
Set modest goals. You should be able to meet them in a short period of time – one month at most. That will keep frustration at bay.
Take it easy
Since permanent improvement is the result of incremental change, a quick fix is not the answer.
For optimum health, adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach to changing your lifestyle.
Don't let the scale run your life. Think of it as just one tool in your tool kit.
Defeat defeatist attitudes
When you snitch a French fry from your partner's plate, you may feel that you've blown it – might as well wait until next week.
Here's a question that puts all-or-nothing attitudes such as this in proper perspective: If you were driving from New York to Florida and got lost in North Carolina, would you go back to the Big Apple and begin again?
Of course not. You'd find your way and resume your journey.
Monitor your progress
Keeping a journal can be instructive, even inspirational. There's no set formula for the information you record.
For food, you might write down what you eat, how much you eat and the calories. For exercise, you might note what you did and how difficult it was on a scale of 1 to 10.
Consider weighing yourself once a week and taking your measurements once a month.
Abstaining from all things fun and frivolous is not realistic. If you expect that from yourself, you're ensuring that you can't win.
Instead, be kind to yourself.
If you vow to go on a fitness walk every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday but miss the weekend, just hit the pavement as planned the next time.
Don't feel guilty and don't give up.
Avoid blaming yourself
Lack of willpower as the primary cause of excess poundage is losing credibility. Our society is set up to produce overweight people.
We're all slaves to our environment. Cheap food prices, ease of access to unhealthy food and seeing others eat are powerful stimulants. Even the size of the package from which food is taken influences the amount eaten.
Meanwhile, our lifestyles are becoming more and more sedentary.
Therefore, managing your environment regarding food and activity is critical to maintaining a proper weight.
Fitness may be its own reward, but there's nothing wrong with going to the mall. Celebrate even slight improvements.
Every time you order a lighter entree at a restaurant, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or go for a walk after lunch, you're on the road to fitness.
And for that, you deserve credit.