This year, make long-term weight management your resolution

January 25, 2000

Once again, was your New Year's resolution to lose weight? If so, you're like millions of Americans who start each year with the goal of losing weight. Many do succeed, although maybe not as much weight loss as they would like, but some people see at least some loss.

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Maintaining that loss is another matter. By the time the next year rolls around, some people have gained back all of the pounds they lost and then some.

If you're tired of the diet yo-yo game, it may be time to re-examine your goals, your eating habits and your self-talk. Here are 10 tips for correcting some of the biggest mistakes dieters make.

1. Set realistic goals. Break your goals into manageable steps, like eating one-half cup of ice cream before bed once a week instead of one cup every evening. Concentrate on changing habits rather than on reducing pounds.


2. Expect slow progress. The safest, longest lasting weight loss is achieved gradually, at the rate of one to two pounds a week. Gradual weight loss allows your body to adjust physically and mentally to the new you.

3. Eat more than once a day, but don't eat continuously. Make sure your food plan works for the demands on your life. This may mean six small meals or three regular meals per day. If you're so busy that you can only fit in one meal a day, pack nutritious snacks to keep you going until dinner.

4. Get a move on. In a recent study, exercise was a key factor in successful weight maintenance. Take time for activity. Take a walk during your lunch hour. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park your car a block away from work, instead of next to the door.

Schedule 20 to 30 minutes of continuous activity - walking, running, swimming, bicycling, working out at the gym - at least five times a week. The more energy you burn through activity, the more fat you'll liberate. Plus, you feel better when you're active.

5. Enjoy a variety of activities. Schedule different activities with different friends. Take a friend for a walk instead of lunch, meet your neighbor for a morning run or join a weight-lifting class.

6. Remember: All foods can fit. Deprivation leads to obsession, the mother of bingeing. Allow all foods on your OK list.

Just remember the key words: moderation and variety.

7. Fight boredom with variety in flavor. Go for flavor with spices rather than with fat. Tantalize your taste buds with garlic and onions. Try salsa on baked potatoes in place of sour cream.

8. Find nonfood ways to handle emotional triggers. Accept that you'll have stresses that will push your buttons and make you want to find solace in food. Recognize and accept these triggers, then find nonfood ways to soothe your emotions. A brisk walk or bubble bath can do wonders for frazzled nerves.

9. Commit to yourself, rather than the approval of others.

Dieting for another person sets you up for failure, especially when his or her applause isn't as loud as you'd hoped. Remember, everything wonderful about you exists no matter what size you are.

10. Celebrate! And, make something besides food the reward. Celebrate yourself, your family and friends, your work, your life. Plan rewards for weight maintenance as well as weight loss.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County.

Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

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