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Five habits to help you lose weight, keep it off

To many Americans, weight loss remains a pie-in-the-sky desired outcome to a laborious process that is never undertaken.

According to a Gallup poll, 51 percent of American adults want to lose weight, but only 25 percent say they actively work toward that goal.

But with only 18 percent of Americans at their ideal weight, and eating and exercise habits steadily on the decline, would-be weight-losers should not allow their desire to lose weight outweigh their will to undertake weight loss. Recognizing the ease in which healthy habits can be adopted into your diet and fitness regimen can motivate you to achieve your ideal weight and maintain it for years to come.

Take ‘wholistic’ approach

While fad diets may come and go, one diet never goes out of style: a wholesome diet that helps boost energy and mental clarity so you can maintain laser focus on living productively. Infuse your diet with fresh, minimally processed whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, beans, eggs and nuts; low-fat dairy; and whole grains. Additionally, adding low-density foods that are high in fiber to your diet can satiate you for hours and keep your weight low because they occupy more space in the stomach but with fewer calories than high-density foods that pack on the calories but not always the nutrients.

Eat like clockwork

When incorporating healthy habits into your weight-loss regimen, recognize that when and how often you eat is as critical as what you eat. While many dieters skip meals to aid in caloric restriction and weight loss, the opposite is true: After a few hours without eating, the stress hormone cortisol rises and signals the body to store fat in the abdomen. A diet plan that begins with breakfast and continues with small meals at frequent intervals not only will help reduce body fat and cortisol levels, but also will ensure that your metabolism runs like clockwork throughout the day.

Move it to lost it

While conventional wisdom indicates that dieting promotes weight loss more effectively than exercise, studies show that individuals who lose weight and maintain it engage in regular fitness activities, whether jogging, walking or gardening, or even cleaning the house or shopping. Rather than crash-dieting or dramatically reducing calories to stretch your diet plan further, incorporate a fitness regimen alongside your diet plan to help build muscle and boost your metabolism so that you can be a lean, mean, fat-burning machine even when you’re not exercising.

‘Wet’ your appetite

You may have heard of the often cited “8x8” rule — drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid each day. However, drinking as little as two cups of water before a meal can help you lose weight. This is not because water itself has a mystical, fat-burning property, but because proper hydration can relieve the thirst that is often confused as hunger, helping to suppress appetite and prevent overeating. Water also can help replace the intake of hypercaloric, sugar-laden sodas and juices that often contain high-fructose corn syrup.

Let old habits die hard

After incorporating healthy habits and losing weight, one of the greatest setbacks to weight maintenance is relapsing into damaging dietary habits. Weight losers may once more turn to comforting, high-density foods such as saturated oils and butter, along with processed foods with artificial ingredients. These foods can quickly reverse your weight loss, sap your energy and vitality, and renew a vicious cycle of weight gains and losses that is bound to take its physical and emotional toll. Instead of taking the view that a diet is a one-time activity, embrace your new meal plan not as a restrictive diet, but as a positive lifestyle change.

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