April 24, 2009

Suffering from a diet relapse? These weight loss tips can get you back on track and losing weight again.

Q: I've already blown off my New Year's vow to lose weight. Can I still reach my goal by summer?

A: Absolutely! You're not alone–36 percent of us have already strayed from our yearly get–healthy objectives, finds a study from the University of Scranton. But with a few tweaks, say experts, you can jump back on the weight–loss wagon. What distinguishes a resolution–maker from a resolution breaker is having a specific, attainable goal.

Weight loss tips: "Many women tend to set pie–in–the–sky targets, like losing 15 pounds in a month," says Keri M. Gans, R.D., a New York City nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Trying to do too much too fast can cause you to become frustrated and give up." Gans suggests these diet tips to prevent that frustration from boiling over:

  • Reword your objective so it focuses on behaviors you can change rather than on an arbitrary number on the scale.
  • "Break down your overall goal into smaller, more manageable ones, emphasizing what you're adding to your diet rather than what you're giving up," Gans says.
  • Tackle a few easy items on your list first, like doing five push–ups every morning or switching to leaner cuts of meat.
  • Pledge to sneak fruit into every dessert, or swap sorbet for ice cream.
  • Once you've mastered those changes, try more challenging ones, like packing your lunch instead of hitting the deli or taking a kickboxing class after work.

When researching weight loss tips, you may have come across some startling news about a virus. See what diet tips Shape experts have to share.

Q: A friend told me there's a virus that can make you fat. Is this true?

A: Right now, it's just a theory. However, some researchers are so convinced Human adenovirus–36 (Ad–36) may be partly to blame for obesity, they're developing medications to counteract its effects.

Healthy diet facts and theories: "Lab experiments suggest this virus has the power to turn adult stem cells into fat cells," says Richard L. Atkinson, M.D., director of the Obetech Obesity Research Center. A study he published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who tested positive for Ad-36 had a BMI 9 points higher than those who didn't have the virus. Obese people were also about three times more likely to have been infected than their slimmer counterparts.

The good news: If you're at a healthy weight now, you probably don't need to worry about contracting Ad–36. "After being exposed to similar viruses that cause colds, flus, and illnesses, most adults have developed antibodies that protect them against catching it," says Atkinson. Also, keep in mind that even if science can prove this virus directly leads to extra pounds, Atkinson says it probably affects only 10 to 20 percent of the population. "Lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and genetics are still the most common factors leading to weight gain," he says.

Count on Shape for all the healthy diet facts and diet tips that you need!