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Setting Realistic Weight-loss Goals

Food for Thought

Don't obsess over the scale; it can drive you nuts! Limit the times you weigh yourself to no more than once or twice a week. In fact, avoid hopping on the scale each time you hit the bathroom by packing it away in the closet between weigh-ins, or simply weigh yourself outside your home (at the gym, your doctor's office, and so on).

Don't overwhelm yourself trying to lose a tremendous amount of weight. Instead, break it into smaller, more achievable short-term goals. For example, if you have your heart set on losing, say, 40 pounds, aim for 10 pounds at a time. Even with a mere eight pounds to lose, strive for knocking off two pounds at a time.

Also, understand that genetics play a key role in determining your body makeup, so don't dream about that “Barbie-doll body”; it's not gonna happen. Take a look at your mom, dad, and other relatives. Biology isn't destiny, but heredity does play an integral part in shaping your shape.

The most important thing is to learn to love the body you have and keep your focus on ways to make it healthy. You might never be a size six or have bulging muscles, but you can learn to be happy with the body you have by taking care of it.

Get Moving and Keep Moving

Following a healthy food plan is only half of the weight-loss equation: you've gotta move to lose! Numerous studies have shown that exercise helps promote weight loss and weight maintenance by revving up your metabolism (that is, burning more calories). What's more, exercise relieves stress and can even psych up your state of mind so that you're motivated to make smart food choices during the day.

Maintaining Your Weight After You've Lost It

So you have reached your goal—now what? “Hooray!” on one hand, “Eek!” on the other! Maintaining your weight is actually harder than losing weight because there's no goal to strive for; you're already there. Hang tight and read the following tips. This time, your shapely physique is here to stay.

  • The trick is to loosen the diet reins, but not too much. Continue with a modified version of your bubble plan (in your head only) because it's well-balanced and encourages you to eat healthfully.
  • Figure out a five-pound weight range with your present weight in the middle. For example, if your weight is 130 pounds, give yourself a range of 128–132 pounds. Continue to weigh in once every week or so, and if you go over the range, get back on the bubble sheets.
  • Plan one meal “off ” each week—in other words, a meal that doesn't fit or calculate into your plan (anything you'd like). If your weight continues to stay put, add a second meal off, or possibly a dessert. Experiment and see what your body can handle; everyone is different.
  • You might prefer to simply add a few more grains to your plan (or a fruit and milk). See what your weekly weigh-ins reveal (or if your clothes seem to “shrink” or “grow”) and never panic if you think you've gained. Just take away some of the additions the following week. Remember, the key to maintaining is to find out how much food your body can handle.
  • Absolutely continue with your regular exercise program. Exercise allows you to eat more food because it burns mega-calories and keeps you tight and toned and because it zaps body fat and increases your lean body mass.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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