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A Different Way to Think About Weight Loss

Another New Year, another resolution. And sadly, for most people they don’t work, especially when the resolution focuses on losing weight, which according to a recent survey, accounts for over 20 percent of all New Year’s resolutions. And the success rate of New Year’s resolutions? Only about 9 percent say they have made and successfully kept them.

Obesity is an important health issue, and possibly the most debilitating health problem in the U.S. In fact, with more than a third of all U.S. adults qualifying as obese, the U.S. is the most overweight country in the world. Obesity-related medical conditions include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and some types of cancer. The medical costs of obesity in our country are estimated as high as $210 billion per year.

Fortunately, obesity is also preventable in most cases, but losing weight takes more than simply making a resolution. You have to think differently about food and exercise, as well as self-discipline and motivation.

For most of us, appearance and self-image are tied closely to our emotional state. That’s why weight tends to be one of the first things we notice when we look in that full-body mirror. So as anyone who’s ever tried to diet can tell you, dieting is a series of ups and downs, which means you can get discouraged when you gain a few pounds.

That leads us to the first of three strategies to help you lose weight.

1. Don’t judge results based on appearance.

When you improve your diet and start exercising, your health improves steadily, even if your weight continues to fluctuate, and that’s something you can feel good about. For example, you might find that you are less likely to get winded when you walk up a flight of stairs or have to walk across a parking lot.

Also, when you go to the doctor, don’t just look at the number that comes up when you step on the scale. Compare your blood pressure, heart rate and lab results to the previous check-up, too. If you’ve improved your diet and you’re exercising, those numbers are almost certain to improve.

2. Make peace with the foods you know you should avoid.

If you’re completely honest with yourself, you know that banning all the foods you love won’t work. In fact, you’ve probably tried that already, right? You can only limit yourself to smoked turkey and alfalfa sprouts for so long before you fall off the wagon. Instead, allow yourself an occasional indulgence. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

After all, when people follow an unhealthy diet, the problem is not the chocolate or the ice cream or the bacon cheeseburgers. It’s how much of these things you eat. It’s okay to have a slice of pepperoni pizza every now and then as long as you don’t have it every day or eat half the pizza in one sitting.

3. Understand how exercise and calories work

People sometimes think calories measure how fattening food is, but there’s more to it than that. Technically, a calorie is a measure of heat energy. When you see on a label that a certain food has 100 calories, it means that your body has to generate 100 calories of energy to keep it from eventually converting to body fat. So for example, if you eat a large fast-food double cheeseburger that has 770 calories, you might have to walk five or six miles to work it off.

If you start to understand and think about the relationship between exercise and food, you’ll find that you’re more motivated to go for a daily walk and better able to resist the temptation of high-calorie foods.

So this year, give these strategies a try and ditch the New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, think of it as a different way of understanding food and exercise, in a way that’s lasting and permanent. You’ll be glad you did!

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