Are you trying to lose weight but falling short of your goal? You’re not alone. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases that 33 percent of Americans are overweight. Another 33 percent are obese. Losing weight and keeping it off isn’t easy, but it can be done, and you can do it.

Be Happy With Slow and Steady Progress

One of the most challenging aspects of losing weight is that dieters want quick results. A more realistic expectation is to lose about two pounds per week or 10 pounds per month. That usually requires a reduced-calorie eating plan combined with regular exercise. Don’t try to push ahead too fast. Give yourself a chance to adjust to lower calorie intake and to experiment with new foods and healthier ways to eat.

If you set reasonable goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. If you meet your goals, you’ll feel better about yourself. If you feel good about yourself, you’ll feel empowered instead of deprived, and you’ll be more likely to achieve your target weight in the future.

Weigh Yourself Consistently

The scale will tell you where you are with your weight loss goal. An accurate scale is an essential part of any reasonable weight loss plan. Weighing in keeps you accountable for your progress and rewards you for good behavior with visual evidence of lower body weight. Weighing in weekly is often suggested. It’s long enough for the body to register the loss of pounds but short enough so that you won’t have to wonder for too long about where you stand. Whether you weigh yourself every day, every week, every two weeks or every month, it’s fine. The important thing is that you weigh yourself consistently.

Be Willing to Make a Lifestyle Change

Losing weight and keeping it off means making a lifestyle change. You’ll be eating less and working out more. You may be causing other life-enhancing changes such as eating healthier foods and cutting back on high-calorie snacks and desserts. All too often, dieters achieve their weight-loss goals and then resume their former eating and exercise habits. That doesn’t work. Your weight will reflect your habits, and if you want to maintain your weight loss, you’ll have to change your eating and exercise habits for good.

That doesn’t mean you can’t binge on a bag of chips or revel in a double hot fudge sundae now and then. It does mean that, for the most part, you’ll have to keep your calories low and your exercise high for as long as you want to maintain your new weight. The good part is that once you’ve achieved your goal, you’ll be able to add a few hundred calories to your daily intake and enjoy a bit more leeway in your eating and exercise habits.

Find Foods That Make You Feel Full

Some foods deliver a good return on investment. For example, whole wheat bread will make you feel fuller than white bread. Plain popcorn is a healthier way to satisfy snack cravings than chips and dip. Chunky salsa is extremely low in calories, but it will fill you up, especially when paired with raw veggies like cabbage. There are many reduced-calorie dressings on the market, and that makes it easier to change up your salads. Beans are filling, high in fiber and low in calories. As a bonus, they also contain a lot of protein.

Of course, you can lose weight without consuming any traditional diet foods whatsoever. You can eat ice cream and cake and still lose weight. The amount of weight you lose will be, for the most part, determined by how much you exercise and by the number of calories you consume. If you’re allowed 1,000 calories per day, you can certainly spend them all on ice cream if you wish, and if you stop at that, you’ll lose weight in the bargain. The only problem is that if you eat only ice cream, you probably won’t feel good. If you don’t feel good on a diet, you’re not likely to stay on it.

Keep a Lifestyle Change Journal

It can be as simple as a notebook in which you jot down everything you eat and how many calories you spend. You should also record what you do every day for exercise. That keeps you accountable, and it comes in handy for future reference. For example, if you somehow exceed your goal and lose three pounds in a week instead of two, you can look back at what you ate and what you did for exercise. You’ll get information about which habits are helping you reach your weight loss goal and which habits are not.

Get Involved in Recreational Activities

If the gym isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to work out. Just walking a lot or having a good run several times per week will burn up a considerable number of calories, especially if you do it consistently. Riding a bike, roller skating, rock climbing, swimming, hiking and dozens of other recreational activities all count as exercise. If you choose to exercise by indulging in your favorite activities, the process of losing weight will seem more like fun and less like deprivation.

It can take some time to achieve your target weight. Don’t get down on yourself if you haven’t reached your objective as yet. When you have a slip, and you will, get back on track as quickly as possible and try to find out what went wrong. Learn from the experience and move on. Remember that you’re in good company. Most people weigh more than they should, so losing weight is a common problem that many people struggle with. Most of them haven’t resolved the issue yet, but as long as you persist in your efforts and keep on doing the next right thing, you will reach your goal.

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