12 Ways to Think Yourself Thinner

The right attitude toward food and weight loss can help you get the body you want. We've got the thought strategies you need to succeed.
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Slimming Strategies 1-6

1. Ban the word "diet" from your vocabulary.
"Diets are temporary," says Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The word implies you'll go off it at some point rather than developing healthy habits you can maintain throughout your life. Plus "diet" is such a motivation-killer thanks to its many negative connotations (hunger and deprivation, to name just two). "Focus on the positive aspects of eating healthfully, such as feeling more energetic," recommends Sandon.

2. Don't make it all about dress size.
Yes, wanting to fit into your skinny jeans can inspire you to slim down, but you're more likely to succeed if you think beyond the superficial, says Ruth Frechman, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Meaningful goals like setting a good example for your kids or avoiding a health problem that runs in your family are more motivating and will make it easier for you to resist temptation," she says. Write your goals down and refer to the list often to reinforce your determination.

3. Be realistic.
Forget everything the weight-loss infomercials tell you: Dropping a dress size in a matter of days is pure fantasy. "Trying to lose too much too quickly will frustrate you, and you'll be more likely to give up on your weight-loss plan when it doesn't happen," says Frechman. Aiming to shed a pound a week is more realistic. Better yet, don't just focus on the scale. Create easily attainable mini-goals like using skim milk in your coffee instead of half-and-half. Meeting them will help you feel successful and excited to make more healthy changes.

4. Think twice before you drink.
It's easy to convince yourself that liquid calories don't count, partly because you consume them so quickly, says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. "When it takes little to no effort to swallow something, people will almost always say it has fewer calories than it does," he explains. Another reason that beverages don't seem filling? Gulping down a drink doesn't provide the same satisfying sensory experience that chewing food does. Don't be fooled -- give soda, sugary coffee concoctions, and other high-calorie drinks the same "occasional treat" status you assign to foods like cake and brownies.

5. Don't swear off your favorite foods.
Making treats totally off-limits could sabotage your weight-loss goals, research from the University of Toronto suggests. Dieting women who were deprived of chocolate for a week had more intense cravings than those without any food restrictions, and they consumed twice as much chocolate as they usually did when they were finally permitted to eat it. The smarter strategy is to allow yourself a small portion of the treats you love, says Sandon. "That way, you won't feel deprived or obsess about what you can't have."

6. Expect imperfection.
Okay, so maybe one of those small indulgences turned into a big splurge. Instead of feeling guilty -- which may prompt you to eat even more -- let it go and tell yourself you'll make better choices at your next meal. Ironically, expecting the occasional setback could strengthen your powers of resistance. A study published in Psychological Science found that people who are the most confident in their self-control may be more likely to give in to temptation.

Continued on page 2:  Slimming Strategies 7-12


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