1. Love thyself. “Decide to lose excess weight because you are a wonderful person, not to become one.”
2. Choose an eating plan that you can live with. “Slow and steady wins the race.” If you lose just one pound a week this year, on December 31st, you’ll be 26 pounds lighter.
3. Make a commitment. Make a commitment that’s so strong that “slipping” off your well-laid plan is simply a non-negotiable issue.
4. Be the “boss” of what goes into your mouth. Blaming others for your being overweight (e.g., “I had to eat it, it was offered to me”) is a way of avoiding personal responsibility for your own eating. No one’s holding your nose and force-feeding you.
5. Communicate your needs and plan to your friends and family. Ask them for support and understanding.
6. Learn how easy it is to substitute. An extra 100 calories a day can put 10 pounds on you over the course of a year. Read labels and refer to your pocket calorie counter. Switch to low-fat/low-calorie versions of your favorite foods (and watch portion sizes).
7. Listen to your stomach. Ask yourself what’s hungry – your stomach or your eyes? Eat when you stomach is hungry; stop eating when your stomach is no longer hungry (even though there may be food remaining).
8. Burn more calories than you eat. Many people don’t eat too much, they simply exercise too little. Get up 15 minutes earlier and watch 15 fewer minutes of TV at night. Hey – you’ve time for two 15-minute workouts.
9. Know thyself. Use a daily food diary to decide what times of the day and in what situations you’re most likely to lose control over your food choices. Develop an effective “battle plan.”
10. Learn new ways to eat. Reduce stress and then eat; don’t use eating to reduce stress. Take a five-minute walk or stair-climb before lunch; take a shower before dinner – whatever works.
11. Weigh in regularly. Weigh in daily, or at least weekly. This can help you make mid-course corrections. Note: 747 Pilots don’t get upset and they don’t turn back when their instruments tell them they’re off course – they make the needed corrections, and continue on.
12. Make your own rules. No ones know your “weaknesses” better than you. If you simply must have a candy bar once a day, write it into your “rules.”
13. Exercise your self-control muscles. Practice leaving food on your plate, leaving the table a little hungry, and walking past aromatic doughnut shops. You can even make a game of it.
14. Watch portion sizes. Use an actual scale and measuring cups to serve your food – at least in the beginning. Otherwise, your calorie counting can be way off. Be careful of food labels. A small bag of chips may contain two servings, which means you’ll have to double the calories.
15. Learn new ways to grocery shop. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it. Shop on a full stomach – when the store’s not crowded and when you’re relaxed. Stick to your shopping list.
16. Keep a record of the calories you don’t eat. Did you skip the doughnut at the committee meeting? Award yourself 250 calories. Did you request “no gravy” on your potatoes? Give yourself 150 calories. At the end of the day, see how many calories you almost ate, but didn’t.
17. Monitor your eating “just for today.” You don’t have to watch your diet forever – just watch it for the next 24 hours. “One day at a time.”