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Makeover Your Mind...and Body

Want to shed excess fat once and for all? Instead of living on diet products, try changing the way you think. Research shows that many people who lose weight end up regaining it; but to understand how those who beat the odds do it, scientists have started to explore the mind-sets of so-called "successful losers." While the National Weight Control Registry reports that eating right and exercising are paramount to lasting weight loss, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, zeroed in on the critical role of psychological factors. The study looked at 44 men and women who maintained a significant weight loss for a minimum of three years and showed people who successfully lose weight strongly believe that weight loss is possible. Psychological factors, such as attitude toward food, are also crucial to success.

So, before you head to Spinning class or start slashing calories, you must get your head in the fat-loss game. Here are seven research-based, tried-and-true tips for doing so.


Believe you can succeed

In the International Journal of Obesity study, people who lost weight and kept it off actually visualized--and realized they could accomplish--their fat-loss goals. In order to lose weight, you have to believe that you can make it happen.

Be realistic

Many women set near-impossible goals, which can set them up for failure and disappointment. So set your sights on an attainable amount of weight and a sensible time frame. Aim for 1 to 2 pounds per week, max!


Focus on tangible results

Think about the immediate psychological and physical benefits of getting in better shape. In the International Journal of Obesity, short-term goals such as boosting energy, eating more healthfully and feeling more confident were more effective than long-term, less specific goals.

Avoid all-or-nothing thinking

Clinical research has shown that a feeling of deprivation can impede progress when trying to lose weight. If you eat a piece of cake, don't beat yourself up about it. Recognize that you can have a piece of cake once in a while, as long as you exercise a little more or cut back at dinner.


Plan for land mines

Research shows people who successfully lose weight tend to soothe temptations or frustrations by finding alternate ways to cope with them. For instance, they call a friend or take a walk instead of eating.

Relax

Research strongly links stress to weight gain and overeating in some groups of people. Try yoga, meditation or deep breathing to keep your stress levels--and your fat stores--under control.

Don't fly solo

Studies show that some people with high levels of social support have more success achieving and maintaining weight loss, so get your friends, family and co-workers to rally around you.