Losing Weight . . . a Good Thing?

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How to Lose Weight

how to lose weight

Everyone knows that losing weight requires a decrease in caloric intake, an increase in exercise or some combination of both. There's an almost infinite number of varieties of this basic formula, and all of them work. The important thing then, is to choose one that will be the easiest for you to stick with. Some people prefer calorie counting, others prefer more general plans such as eliminating sweets, cutting back on fats, not snacking between meals, etc. Some people work best alone, others do well with the structure and support of a group or professional weight loss center or exercise program. Some prefer to use pre-packed items, while others want to continue choosing their own foods. Some don't want to alter their food intake at all, but prefer to simply increase their exercise level. Some people want a combination of diet and exercise. To figure out what will work best for you, think of questions like: Which one will I enjoy more? Which one fits my budget? Which one will be easiest for me to stick with? Which one fits my personal/professional lifestyle and schedule? Ideally, whatever you come up with should be nutritionally balanced. If you feel that your weight loss plan may not be, supplement it with a multipurpose vitamin/mineral combination. It's always best if we get adequate nutrition in the foods we eat, but this is sometimes difficult if we're also trying to lose weight.

One very important thing to consider when trying to decide on the food plan you want is that if your goal is truly to lose weight and keep it off, research has shown that the best way to accomplish this is through slow, gradual weight loss. Quicker, faddish types of schemes may take weight off faster, but it's also more likely to come back.


If you find you have trouble sticking with your weight loss plan, instead of being critical of yourself, it's time to play detective to figure out what's going wrong. A place to start is to go back to the "Should I?" questions again. Are you trying to force your body to achieve and maintain a weight that's too low? Are there some unconscious reasons for not losing weight that are causing you to sabotage yourself? Has something in your life changed since you began your diet so that even though it was a good idea at the time, it's too much right now? If the answer to these types of questions is no, then look at your weight loss plan. Do you need to alter it in some way? Maybe you've discovered that your bedtime snack is really important to you, so you'd rather have a smaller dinner and keep your bedtime snack. Maybe your plan was fine in the beginning, but you've become bored with it and a different one would be better now. Maybe there's nothing wrong with your plan, but you just need a day (or week) off. Maybe you're trying to lose weight too quickly. Maybe you need to stop weighing yourself. The list is endless. Again, what's important is to discover what's causing your own difficulty and then problem-solve ways to deal with it. To have trouble along the way does not mean you've failed; instead, think of it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself.

a final note

If there's one thing that's more important to losing weight than anything else, it's liking yourself. This is important in the pre-diet planning stage, the diet stage, and the maintenance stage. Since it's a key feature at all three stages, I think it's usually better to work on accepting, respecting, and liking yourself first, and then see if you still want to lose weight. If you can't accept yourself at your current weight, chances are you won't be able to at your goal weight, either. And when your entire sense of self-worth no longer resides in what the scales or mirrors say, losing weight (or deciding not to) becomes so much less difficult and tedious.

© 1998 – 2018 by Susan C. Litton, Ph.D.,
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