The following list is by no means comprehensive. It merely emphasizes some of the key points in the challenge of reducing bodyfat.

1-A. Set Ultimate Goal, and Incremental Goals

Fitting into clothes that have become too tight or too small is a better yardstick than scale weight. But scale weight can be valid, too, if you understand that you want to preserve or even increase muscle and lean tissue, while decreasing fat. For instance, you could stop working out and probably lose a few pounds of scale weight over the next month (assuming your eating habits remained the same). This supposed loss, however, would be muscle and lean tissue -- not fat. It would cause a decrease in resting metabolic rate, necessitating fewer calories. Conversely, gaining muscle increases metabolism.

Set dates for when you want to wear a certain size or a specific garment; and/or dates for weight. You can probably only lose a couple pounds of legitimate fat each week, so be realistic in setting your goals.

2. Develop Detailed Eating Plan

This is why we provide a plan in our programs. Use it, modify it, or build your own plan from scratch. Ideally, your plan should provide 6 eating episodes equally spaced throughout the day, equally proportioned (percentages of fat, carbohydrates, and protein), and equal in calories. That would mean something like 250 - 400 calories each eating episode, 40-60% carbohydrate, 30-40% protein, and 10-30% fat. Equal calorie levels, proportions, and time between meals is ideal but far from practical.

It's more practical to think in terms of 3 meals and 3 snacks. Try to have the 3 snacks equal in calories and proportion; and the meals well-balanced and within 200 calories of each other.

Having a plan is like having a budget. It makes you much more judicious in "spending" calories.

To help with your snacks, buy Balance bars or Met-Rx bars or drink mix at your local healthfood store. Drinks are nutritionally superior to the bars, but not nearly as practical.

3. Identify Your Reason(s)

Why do you want to be a certain size, weight, or increase your energy or fitness level? Perhaps you want to improve in a sport or take up a new one? Write down not only what you want, but why you want it. Your "why" has to be bigger than the obstacles you encounter. Not only should you write out your reason(s) in detail, but also recite them frequently. Don't think it's too silly. Affirmation works dramatically.

4. Maintain Low-grade Hunger

We're probably coming off a lengthy spell of unrestricted indulgence. We've sat down to meals and eaten until it has hurt; we've stuffed ourselves. There is a critical calorie gap between being not hungry and being full. Those calories make us fat. In your plan, set calorie level to satisfy hunger -- not to stuff yourself.

5. Turn Off TV

Most of us have built an association between absent-minded snacking and television viewing. This is further exploited by TV commercials. The food industry bombards us with enticements. Find new amusement. An inspiring book that enhances your fitness commitment is an attractive alternative.

6. Pinpoint Eating Triggers

Are you a stress eater? Or does boredom binge-er? Some of us have favorite foods for every emotion. Only the goals and the reasons will overcome these temptations. If you don't know what triggers you, keep a food diary for several days. Write down not only what you eat, but also your emotional state at the time you ate. Once you know what prompts you to overeat, plan for how to handle it differently the next time.

7. Master Dining-Out Techniques

The key point about restaurants is to select what you're going to eat ahead of time, and stick to it. This is more easily done if you avoid restaurants where you have favorite high-calorie dishes to which you look forward. Even if you arrive with the intention of order a sensible meal, you'll be tempted with memories of how much you enjoy your favorite.

Go to a new restaurant instead; one where such an association does not exist.

8. Make Yourself Accountable

Inform the world of your fitness goals. More importantly, recruit a friend to serve as your fitness buddy. Encourage each other. Commiserate together. Be sure to lift each other up, instead of dragging one another down.

9. Expect lapses

If you stub your toe, don't cut off your foot. Many of us set our goals, develop our plan, and the first instance we fall off the course becomes an excuse to "really blow it." We absolve guilt with the intention of starting over again Monday.

If we were traveling down I-4 and had a flat tire, how many of us would get out of the car and slash the other three tires? But we tend to do this with our "diets;" the first minor deviation causes a calorie explosion.

Expect lapses; they are a natural occurrence. Minimize the damage. Excuse yourself for being human, but start over RIGHT NOW; not Monday.


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