IDEA Health & Fitness Association offers common-sense tips for implementing a successful weight loss strategy to ring in the New Year. At a time when New Year's resolutions are swirling about, there is no better opportunity to put "live a healthier lifestyle" on the list. If losing some unwanted pounds is a goal for you and/or your clients 2009, here are a few suggestions to help you along:

1.   Create a personal exercise mission statement: All good businesses have one to help keep things on course and overcome barriers, so why shouldn't your exercise program? Make sure to include details on how you want to incorporate exercise into your life.

2.   Recognize — and accept — what you're up against: Don't underestimate the barriers that keep you on the couch or searching the pantry instead of exercising. These barriers may include intimidation or a lack of understanding and confidence. According toThe Journal of the American Medical Association, people who sought assistance from trainers/instructors with weight loss plans succeeded better than those using a self-directed approach.

3.   Stop dieting: How can you lose weight when you're not on a diet? Simply eating 500 fewer calories every day for a week should result in a one-pound weight loss. Slowly losing weight is the best way to keep the weight off.

4.   Keep a food log: Get a realistic picture of how much and which foods you are eating. Many people underestimate their food and beverage intakes so tracking it for a two-week period will provide valuable insight into the changes you need to make.

5.   Adopt a lifestyle approach: Getting 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily may work better for you if you split it into shorter sessions rather than doing an entire workout once in a structured session.

6.   Set realistic, short-term goals: If your goal is to lose 50 pounds or maintain a lifelong exercise regime, it may take some time before you can feel good about achieving your goal. So in the meantime, create goals for each session or an interval of time. Examples of short-term goals might be feeling more energized after a workout or successfully achieving increasingly strenuous workouts.

7.   Do not skip meals: Eating frequently throughout the day (e.g., three small meals with two or three snacks) will stimulate your metabolism. In contrast, skipping meals, especially breakfast, decreases your metabolism. Safe weight loss is one or two pounds. Remember, a healthy body comes from healthy eating.

8.   Practice the 80/20 Rule: Make the healthiest possible food choices 80% of the time. This gives you permission to include all foods in your diet while lessening feelings of deprivation.

9.   If you plateau or get bored, bring out the toys: Be a kid at heart and remember that it's good to play. Changing from a stair stepper to an elliptical trainer or some other "toy" will help reignite your vigor to workout. Also investigate other types of exercise classes, such as yoga or rock climbing.

10.  Stay encouraged and positive: People lose weight at different rates. The pounds may come off faster at first and then plateau or vice versa. The important thing to remember is long-term healthy behavior delivers results. Losing weight is a tough job, but keeping it off is even harder.


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