Take the Yo-Yo Out of Weight Loss

With a majority of Americans now considered overweight or obese, virtually everyone is either planning to lose weight, on some kind of weight loss program, or in the process of regaining the weight they lost on their latest weight loss regimen. The problem is that weight loss - regardless of the plan - is most often temporary, and it's this yo-yo syndrome that causes anguish among those with pounds to shed.

Despite what you may read in the tabloids, there is no great "secret" to successful weight loss. Sustainable weight loss comes from changing your mindset and moving from thinking of a weight loss plan as a temporary period of deprivation to a permanent lifestyle change. Before going on your next diet, here's some food for thought:

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* Keep a food diary for at least two weeks prior to launching a new eating plan. You probably want to lose weight fast, but taking the time to journal what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel when you eat will give you valuable insights to help you succeed. Over the course of the two weeks, you'll be able to see patterns emerge. Perhaps you eat when you're frustrated, or maybe you are a late-night snacker. Maybe you've never realized that you're adding that extra packet of sugar to your triple latte, or that you nibble while you're preparing your family's meal. Once you identify your eating patterns, you can plan specific strategies to work around them.

* Keep an exercise journal for at least two weeks. If you don't work out regularly, invest in an inexpensive pedometer to track how many steps you take each day. Just as with your food diary, you'll begin to see patterns emerge. Perhaps you become a couch potato on Saturday mornings, or you drive around the parking lot three times in order to find a closer parking spot. After the two weeks is up, you'll be able to see where you can incorporate more movement into your life. Check with your doctor, of course, before undertaking a new exercise regime. But walking is the best and cheapest form of exercise, and you can use your pedometer to set goals for yourself. Keep in mind that exercise is the key to fast weight loss and healthy weight loss.

* In deciding upon a course of action, take incremental steps to achieve your goals. When it comes to changing your eating habits, small changes are more sustainable than huge changes made with sheer force of will. And, as is important with all weight loss, supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals. And don't forget to drink plenty of water!

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