5 Weeks, 10 Pounds to Lose :

Start the Weight-Loss Challenge

Are you ready to lose ten pounds in five weeks? Then start now.

By Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed., for MSN Health & Fitness

Ready to start losing weight? Then here’s your plan for week 1:

1. Figure out what you will eat for each meal and snack, every day, as far in advance as possible.
Write out a daily menu, spreading your caloric intake evenly between your meals and snacks. On this plan, you will need to knock off 500 calories daily from your normal eating habits, as detailed in your
Baseline Diet Diary (if you haven’t kept a baseline diet diary, do this first). This week’s focus is to improve your diet by eating more nutritious or lower-calorie foods. Try to be strict with yourself this week since undoubtedly you’re motivated at this point.

Strategies: Reduce calories in small ways—choosing lower-fat items, substituting lower-calorie spread and dressings, cutting out the liquid calories and so on. For more ideas, read this week’s Eat Smart tips.

Keep track to stay on track: Log your meals and snacks in a Daily Diet Diary (download .pdf forms). Count the calories of each food you consume and keep a running total to ensure that you are staying within your target range.

2. Walk the fat off.
Follow a daily walking routine. No matter what, fit in some exercise every day. But if a workout feels too strenuous, back off slightly. (Download your routine:
Regular Walker or Just Starting.)

3. Notice what feels easy and what’s tough.
Changing your diet and activity level may seem relatively easy this week, when you’re off to a fresh start. But to stick to a plan it’s important to recognize trouble spots early on—and find ways around them.

Say you’re hooked on sodas—as the weeks go by, your no-soda life could be difficult to maintain. Rather than just giving up sodas, you need a find a satisfying substitute that you love to drink, but contains fewer calories.

Skip-the-soda strategies:Experiment with different diet flavors to find one you like.
Taste-test various brands of bottled water to find one that appeals to you (different bottled waters do taste differently).

Bring your own unsweetened iced tea to work, so that you won’t be tempted by vending machines’ offerings.

Whatever your weakness, try to think of similar strategies that will ensure you won’t deviate from your path to weight loss.

So this week, plan your meals, start walking, and pay attention to possible pitfalls. Good luck!

Week 2: Change Course to Stay on Course

How not to succumb to diet fatigue.

How are you feeling after one week on the lose-ten-pounds-in-five-weeks plan? Let’s face it: You might be feeling sore from all the walking. Or maybe you have run out of healthy food in the pantry and haven’t had a chance to stock up yet.

Now is when you have to start changing course to stay on course. Figure out which new habits, foods or workout times are feeling too rigid to realistically keep up. And start modifying those diet and exercise behaviors so that you can stick with the program.

The plan for week 2: Step 1: Focus on high-fiber plant foods.

You might not always be able to whip up your special low-fat menus. Or you may find yourself out with friends or colleagues—and margaritas or chicken wings. This week’s focus is to improve your diet by adding more fruits and veggies to all your meals and snacks, whether at home or in a restaurant. Read this week’s Eat Smart tipsfor ideas on how to make meals more nutritious and lower in calories.

Step 2: Walk more (or figure out workout alternatives).
When you start easing off the strict calorie control, you can make up the difference by burning more calories through exercise. So it’s important to stay with the walk-the-fat-off plan and increase the length and intensity of your workouts.

Don’t make excuses: If the weather is miserable and you’re tempted to skip your walks , don’t just say “It’s raining/snowing/cold, I’ll exercise tomorrow.” Either bundle up or find indoor alternatives. Or if body aches are slowing you down, after consulting with a health professional, see if there are movement options that don’t aggravate weak areas. If walking is bothering your knees, try treading water. If your back is acting up, see if a cardio machine such as a recumbent bicycle allows you to move without pain.

Remember, the Walk-the-Fat-Off Plan provides intensity recommendations by the minute so you can follow the routine doing other aerobic activities besides walking. No matter what you end up doing, it’s always better to do something than put off exercise altogether (download this week’s exercise routines).

Step 3: Spot your successes.
Your weight loss may be minimal at this point, so don’t focus on fat or scale weight. But that doesn’t mean you’re not already achieving success. Be attentive to anything that’s cause for celebration and let it inspire you do stick to your plan:

If you find that your stamina is improving and that you have no problem increasing the length of your walks, then consider yourself a success! If you have discovered a new food that’s tasty and nutritious—a food that you could eat forever—consider yourself a success! If you feel just a wee bit firmer in your thighs or butt, consider yourself a success! If you find it easier than you thought to stop yourself from overeating at meals, consider yourself a success! If you like the energetic feeling you get from eating highly nutritious foods, or the post-exercise glow, consider yourself a success! If you find that living a healthier lifestyle so far is easier than you expected, consider yourself a success!

Your body is in a state of change right now. Many of these changes may be imperceptible to you, but rest assured, positive changes are happening within your body!

Week 3: Bump up the Calorie Burn

How to lose weight by being more active.

This week you’re going to help your weight loss along by increasing your overall energy expenditure. The plan for week 3:

Step 1: Eat six meals or snacks every day.
There is no solid research to prove that certain foods
boost your metabolism enough to lose weight. But if you are on a strict diet and/or you eat infrequently, you’re not maximizing what is known as the thermic effect of food. The process of eating, breaking down and absorbing nutrients in food accounts for about 8 percent to 10 percent of your daily energy expenditure, or about 200 to 400 calories for the average active person.

Eating too little or waiting long periods between meals can minimize the effect. Some experts speculate that eating small, frequent meals has the potential to heat up your metabolism. Recent research at Georgia State University found that athletes who ate more frequent, modest-sized meals tended to be leaner than athletes who ate more food at one sitting or went for long periods without eating.

Also, eating protein with carbohydrates seems to induce a greater thermic effect. Some high-protein diets use this to bolster their claims of effectiveness. While there's no consistent evidence that increasing protein intake alone will rev up your engines enough to induce weight loss, getting sufficient protein along with eating more “good” carbs keeps you feeling satiated—which means you’ll eat less to feel full. And the greater amounts of fiber in the less-processed carbs crowd out extra calories, which also helps your body burn more of its stored energy, helping you to lose weight.

Continue to log everything you eat this week and tally the number of times you eat. Make sure to meet a quota of six times per day. Also continue to make the most nutritious choices possible, with an eye toward consuming sufficient amounts of protein and “good” carbs.
Step 2: Be more active all day.

You can eat more if you move more. But to avoid gaining weight, you’ll have to eat less if you don’t move much. So the key to avoiding the starving-yourself deprivation that you get on many diets is to be more active. If you’re more active, you can eat and feel satisfied, but still control your weight.

Step 3: Burn more calories by walking.
The calories you burn in your walking workouts can contribute anywhere from 15 percent to 50 percent of your total daily calorie burn, depending on how long and how hard you are working. Exercising at higher intensities increases your burn rate, which is one reason why the
Walk-the-Fat-Off routines include intervals when you walk faster or more vigorously.

Exercising harder provides another payoff: After a longer, high-intensity workout, your body stays revved up, burning extra calories even after you’ve gotten off the treadmill. This extra calorie burn after you’ve stopped exercising is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or afterburn. A post-cardio afterburn could mean a loss of anywhere from 15 to 50 extra calories on top of what you burned while exercising.

This week’s routines includes more high-intensity intervals. Push yourself to work as hard as you comfortably can. Remember, how hard you push is relative: Simply walking fast may be intense enough if you’re new to exercise. If you’re a seasoned walker, slipping in a few seconds of jogging or stair climbing may give you the boost you need. Whatever level you are at, aim to challenge yourself a little more this week.

So bump up your calorie burn by eating more often and increasing the amount of your daily activity and the intensity of your exercise.

Week 4: Stop From Slipping Up

Slip-ups can be an inspiration to persevere.

When you experience a slip-up in your diet and exercise plan, don’t use it as an excuse to quit. See it for what it is: a bump in your road to better health and a healthier body weight.
A little indulgence or laziness every now and then isn’t what makes you fat and out of shape. It’s the pattern of always indulging and always choosing the sofa over sweating that keeps you overweight.

A successful person learns from mistakes. Is it too hard to resist the chocolate chip cookies in your pantry? Get rid of them and make yourself walk, jog or bike to the store if you crave a cookie. This week, I’ll help you find positive ways to prevent and respond to slip–ups and stay on a healthy course.

Here’s your plan for week 4:

Step 1: Snack smart.
Look back at the past four weeks, consulting your Diet Diary. Did you snack regularly? Did the snacks satisfy you? Did you make nutritious choices? Were some snacks more convenient to prepare or obtain than others?

Keeping your snacking patterns in mind, this week focus on eating snacks that you enjoy and that are nutritious and filling. If you frequently find yourself away from home when it’s time for a snack, make sure you have good choices on hand. Some suggestions:
At work:

Canned fruit (with syrup drained)
Fresh fruit
String cheese
Instant-oatmeal packets
Meal-replacement bars and shakes
Peanut butterLow-fat crackers
Snacks for the car:
Trail mix
Easy-to-eat fruit
Snacks in your purse:
Dried fruit
Healthful energy bar

You’ll notice that nuts are the perfect snack for pretty much any occasion. They’re filling, nutritious, convenient—and not as fattening as you might think! See this week’s Eat Smart tipsto learn more about nuts.

Step 2: Find ways to de-stress.
Eating is a common way to deal with stress or emotional ups and downs. That’s because eating favorite foods, especially those that are high in fat and sugar, produces pleasure reactions in the brain—the same responses as other coping methods like drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Of course, these behaviors can be self-destructive and even addictive.

If you are an emotional eater, when times get tough find healthier ways to deal with stress, instead of reaching for that bag of chips or pint of ice cream. Some activities that can make you feel good, have fun and relax include:

Getting a massage
Taking a nap
Doing something creative like painting, playing an instrument, or knitting
Playing soothing or uplifting music
Taking a dance lesson
Calling an old friend

Write out a list of your fallback healthy panaceas to stress, even store this list in your PDA or on your computer to keep it close on hand. Then do what it takes to have all these opportunities readily available should you need them. This might be as simple as setting aside a few CDs that make you happy. Or you might pre-pay for a few massages at the gym or buy an electric neck massager. Or create a phone list of friends and family who make you feel positive and cared for—or who make you laugh!—when you call.

Step 3: Go the extra mile.

Although it’s tough, if not impossible, to burn off all the extra calories from a binge, you can use workouts to counterbalance those days when you eat more than you should. If you know you’ll be going to a party or dinner where you’re likely overeat, make that day’s walks or other cardio workouts a little longer or a little harder. (Do more roarin’ intervals and extend the session.) Research shows that a high-intensity cardio session helps the body metabolize fat better from a high-fat meal eaten hours later.

If you couldn’t anticipate a binge, try to make up for it during the next few days by adding more minutes and higher intensity intervals to your workouts. Extra steps will help balance out excesses elsewhere.

Remember, what’s most important is that you are consistent with your new, healthier lifestyle. So, look for ways to prevent overeating and to stick to your workouts. When you do slip up, make up for it if you can, but don’t let it be a reason to revert back to old habits. Refocus and keep making smart eating choices and exercising regularly.

Week 5: Lose More Long Term

Now that you've lost some weight, how do you keep it off, and lose some more?

To lose weight—or keep it off—long term, continue to write down what you eat, make good food choices and stay active every day. But you also need to start planning how you’ll continue this healthier lifestyle into your future.

Step One. Assess your before and after.

Go back and review your original
Baseline Diet Diary—where you tracked your previous eating and activity patterns. Ask yourself the following questions:

Has your new lifestyle dramatically changed? If so, will it be impossible to keep it up?Does this new lifestyle look similar to your previous lifestyle, with tweaks that improve eating habits and raise activity level? If so, have these lifestyle changes produced satisfactory results?When you look back on what you used to eat, does it entice you back? Or do you feel a little repulsed by all the fried foods and the enormous portions?Is exercise becoming a regular part of your day?Is it easier for you to make time for fitness sessions?

It’s still early in your new lifestyle, so you may still feel like it’s an uphill battle.
And be aware that emotional struggles may surface, since overeating often is a coping mechanism. If you’ve had a fight with your spouse, a hard day at work or are simply down because you don’t feel like you’re getting the results that you expect, it will be easier to allow yourself to give up. But you’ve got to stick to it.

Noticing and assessing the changes you’ve made—and determining how easy (or not) it will be to maintain them—will help you shape your lifestyle going forward. You’ll be able to know which approaches to
better eatingand regular exercise are effective for you.

Step Two. Keep on tracking.

Don’t expect to eat perfectly and exercise intensely every day for the rest of your life. You’ll have some days where you slack off on workouts, or eat or drink too much. Just don’t allow a slip-up to mess you up for good. Be consistent. Continue to monitor your progress two, six and 18 months from now and write it in your Diet Diary. Devise a system for your hand-held organizer or calendar and continue to schedule workouts and eat at regular intervals.

Step 3. Move everyday and try new forms of exercise.

Keep moving. For the majority of people, the only way to keep the weight off is to exercise almost every day of the week. Make sure to devise strategies so you enjoy it—and can stick with it! For example, you may walk a lot for the next year or two, but then try a fitness class and decide that you love the group exercise format. You may discover that if you read fiction thrillers on the cardio machines, you start to look forward to these workouts. You may discover that you’re stronger now than ever before. Perhaps you’ll take up tennis or join a softball league.

The point is, it’s natural for your motivation to wax and wane over time. So go with the flow. If walking or a gym routine suddenly feels tedious, find something else to do. You may surprise yourself and discover a new obsession—like biking or a climbing gym.

The past weeks have been the kickoff to the rest of your life. You know what it takes to feel better and look better. The challenge is not only doing it, but staying motivated. So find ways to stay inspired and on track—even if an obstacle stalls you along the way. It happens to all of us. You can do it!!

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50 Weight Loss Tips

I lost 30 pounds in three months. If you wanted to know how I did it, and how I intend on maintaining my current weight, then these 50 weight loss tips are for you. I’m not an expert, but I do speak from experience. If it helps you attain your own weight loss goals, then I’m happy to have helped (if only to serve as a reinforcement of knowledge you already possess). Most of this, I learned on my own or through close friends and family members. Ponzi’s been a great help through the entire process, being a model partner in the weight loss process. Feel free to add your own tips to this list, too! If someone wants to help me extend these points into a full-on eBook, I’m all ears.

1. Dietary control and exercise. It’s true what they say - all you need to do is watch what you eat, and expend more energy than you consume. It’s really that simple. You can quit reading this list now, you now know everything you need to know and didn’t need to fork over $500 for the privilege of me telling you the secret of losing weight. You don’t need to read a 4,000 page book, you don’t have to buy a tape series, you don’t need to stay up late at night to watch infomercials to understand this basic premise. It’s 100% true.

2. Change your lifestyle. If you’re calling this a “diet,” then you’re going to gain all the weight back (and more) within a few months of losing it. Diets do not work. Diets are temporary. When you change your dietary lifestyle, however, you’re changing your habits - and you’re putting yourself on track for long-term / continued success and weight maintenance. Don’t ever tell anybody you’re on a diet - ever. I’m speaking from experience, here - a reformed low-carber. Worked out well for a while, but ultimately failed because my entire lifestyle didn’t change (permanently).

3. Join an online support group. In my case, I created my own - FatBlasters. It’s essential that you not feel alone, and reaching out to friends (new or old) is typically a smart move. I just heard about PeetTrainer, but didn’t know about it when I began down the road to weight loss. You have to know that others are out there for moral support - they know things that you couldn’t possibly know, and they’ve probably been “in your shoes” at some point in the past (or present). Share stories, laughter, tears, successes, and failures - share them. There are thousands of communities out there, so keep looking until you find the one that fits you.

4. Take before and after photos. I know it sucks to see yourself as a chunky monkey (sorry, that’s what I called myself - if only to get myself motivated to meet my weight loss goal). However, there’s no easier way to illustrate your progress. The “after” photos are far more fun to capture and share, admittedly. Find yourself on Flickr! It’s good to see yourself how others see you. Do you like how you look? In many ways, Flickr helped me lose weight.

5. Hire a substitute teacher. Don’t reach for the brands you know and love immediately - or without thinking first. Eggs are “good” for you, but consider using egg substitutes instead (in fact, many restaurants will let you order lower calorie foods). There are countless “lower” alternatives for you to try. If something different doesn’t taste good, by all means - find a better substitute, or eat less of the original. In some cases, the substitute may be worse for you than the regular version of the product. The good news is, healthier choices are silently replacing their “normal” counterparts - and they taste just as nice.

6. Start reading labels. I know it sucks, but you have to do it - and there’s no way to avoid this tip. If you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth, you’re flying blind. Don’t assume, either - triple-check the ingredients list and serving sizes. You must rely on yourself for this; nobody else is going to be able to lose the weight or do the math for you. It’s not that complicated a task, but it will require effort. If nothing else, just pay attention to the calorie count.

7. What’s so funny about bovines? If you like cheese, you must buy the Laughing Cow brand, and keep several of the suckers in stock at all times. The individually-wrapped wedges make for excellent snacks, and are wonderful when melted over just about anything edible. I’d be careful about straight-up American cheese, though - it’s oil, but not necessarily as good for you as (say) a slice of cheddar would be. I have yet to find something as calorie-light and filling as Laughing Cow (I don’t know how they do it).

8. Tell your family. You’re not going to lose the weight alone, even if you ARE alone in losing the weight. If you’ve got a family at home, talk to them about it - initially, not incessantly. Let them know what you’re going to do, and that you want (and need) their support. If you don’t let them know, you’re running the risk of them inadvertently sabotaging your efforts. You want them to help you get to your goal(s). You want them to share in your happiness when you’ve made it past a certain mark. Who knows? Maybe some of your new habits will rub off on them and they’ll become healthier people, too?

9. Go public. I didn’t want to admit that I had screwed up, but admitting the problem in public was the first step on the path to eventual success. I was now accountable for my actions, and all my friends knew what I was doing. There was no turning back, otherwise I’d be risk damaging my integrity. I didn’t want to disappoint the people who read me on a regular (or semi-regular) basis. Plus, it’s an easy way to find out which of your friends have gone through the process before - and glean tips from their own experiences. Then, other friends might become inspired to do the same thing you’re doing once they see that you’ve taken the first step.

10. Identify your exercise. No exercise was created equal. You might like running, so run. You might like jogging, so jog. You might like stationary bikes, so bike stationarily. Find the one that works best for you - that isn’t too much of a chore for you to do regularly throughout the week. Don’t pick a routine that you don’t like - or you won’t want to do it, and you certainly won’t stick with it for long. I also wouldn’t recommend buying into that whole “no pain, no gain” mantra. I’ve lost weight without hurting myself, and you probably can, too.

11. Become a Gazelle. You’ve probably seen Tony Little on TV, selling his Gazelle glider - a low impact exercise machine. I can tell you: it works. It’s easy on my legs, and really gives me a workout when I apply myself on it. Some people say it’s awkward to use, but I love mine - and would consider recommending no other home exercise equipment at this point. Then again, I’m a wimpy geek who only wants to burn calories.

12. Zone out. There’s a reason why people exercise to their favorite music - listening to external stimulus takes your mind off of the physical activity. That’s the secret to making “exercise time” fly. If you’re concentrating on what your body is doing, the session is going to drag on for what will seem like days. Buy a portable music player, or situate yourself in front of a television.

1) The Carb Rotation Diet.
Eat-Weight-Off- Lose 10 Lbs In One Week.
Diet & Fitness.

13. Never count on live programming. It’s important to stimulate your mind while your body is exerting itself in other ways. However, never rely on “what’s on TV or the radio” at the time. Instead of zoning out, you’ll find yourself flipping between channels - and that’s going to make the time drag as much as it would if you weren’t keeping your mind busy in the first place. “Live” is a very bad idea. Go with pre-recorded programming or go without.

14. Video games helped me lose weight. I can keep my balance on the Gazelle (which some might find difficult to do). As such, I plugged an Xbox 360 into the TV and started to play it while I was working out. Immediately, I found that I was sweating more than I was when I was only watching TV passively! The reason boils down to a single word: adrenalin. Now, the only way I’m able to work up a sweat is when I play a fast-paced game on the game console. Yes, even game genre is important; avoid any diversions that require long pauses between tasks. Racing games (like Burnout) have worked very well for me. The more mindless the game, the better your burn, the faster the exercise session will go.

15. Set realistic goals. You can lose 50 pounds in a week if you work out 12 hours a day and eat nothing but celery - but not if you’re human. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t bite off more than you can chew - literally. Make small goals on your way to the bigger goal(s). In the end, you’ll have achieved more (and more frequently, might I add).

16. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I offer this suggestion for a few reasons. First, they’re not good for you anyway. Second, you’ll eliminate a lot of the “bad foods” outright - no questions asked. You’ll have to become more selective in what you eat by avoiding these two nasty ingredients - which are in more foods than you probably care to know.

17. Don’t always listen to your mate. I’ve already suggested that you tell your family - but sometimes members of your family will try to dissuade you from trying to lose weight. It’s simple: they might not want you to succeed where they may have already failed, whether consciously or inadvertently. Your loss is not always their gain. Watch out for statements like: “You’ve lost enough weight.” or “I like you just the way you are.” Fact of the matter is, if YOU don’t like the way that YOU are - then YOU are going to have to do something about it, no matter what anybody says. They still love you, though (in theory).

18. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every body is different. It stands to reason that everybody will lose weight differently. Even if you do the exact same things that I do, you won’t lose weight at the same rate. The key is in finding your triggers. Keep your goal in sight, and do whatever you have to do to meet that goal. When you start looking at someone else’s habits, you’re only going to become discouraged and quit without even realizing that it’s physically impossible to be anybody but yourself.

19. Women aren’t men. It’s been proven that men can lose weight more rapidly than women can, which is likely due to our physiological makeup (women are supposed to have more fat than men, because they’re the birthing gender). This isn’t a sexist statement to make - it’s pretty much the truth. As such, females should expect to set separate goals than males - especially if you’re working on losing weight together, side by side.

20. Take a magic pill. Nonsense! There is no such thing as a magic pill. Don’t fall victim to the hype of the latest fat-burning drug commercial. If you listen or read closely, you’ll see that every single one of these things is effective when combined with proper diet and exercise (which they even state in their advertisements). The side-effects for these drugs are usually worse than your additional weight, anyway.

21. Vitamins are good for you. If you’re going to take any pills, let them be natural supplements (like Essential Fatty Acids or multivitamins). Be careful about overdoing it, though - especially with herbal remedies. Too much of anything is a bad thing. You can consult a nutritionist, but always buy on your own - and keep these supplements to a minimum. Remember, too, that specific vitamins are no good without specific minerals.

22. Deck your desktop. In the beginning, some of my friends sent me complicated spreadsheets to help chart progress. Uh, no - not for me; I’m the kind of guy who likes taking the easy route. As such, I scoured the Web for the best desktop tool and remembered CalorieKing. You won’t find anything easier to use. Trust me, this is the one; I can keep track of everything I eat and expend (without hassle). While the statistic-addicts will love CalorieKing for its thoroughness, the utility was truly designed with non-geeks in mind. The CalorieKing Web site and service are fine on their own, but the downloadable client is what you really want to get. Pay the registration fee, man - how much is your health worth to you?

23. Identify your ideal weight. If you’re 5′5″ with a certain build, there’s an ideal weight that matches your body type. Find it - and make that your goal. And if you don’t know what that might be, try searching the Web for a calculator (though results and calculations will vary by a small margin). Now you have a weight goal to shoot for.

24. Consider the source. I’m going to make a gross generalization here, but… why would I trust an overweight doctor or nutritionist to give me proper advice on weight loss? “Do as I say and not as I do” is not a maxim I’m willing to accept from anybody who would be qualified to tell me how to do something. Talk to people who are doing it, or who have done it and been successful. You don’t have to mirror their regimen, but at least you’re getting help from someone who’s really been there. Or, as they said in the Christmas episode of “Two and a Half Men,” people who live in fat asses shouldn’t throw waffles.

25. Ignore Ronald McDonald. You don’t have to eliminate fast food completely, but you should avoid it at all costs. Most of it is nasty, bad stuff anyway - if you’d even go as far as to call it food. If you’re looking for convenience, find a more convenient meal source. Besides, most of what they serve would be considered “food product,” not food. There’s a gigantic difference as far as your body is concerned. Your bloodstream does not have taste buds, need I remind you?

26. Scale up. If your measurement tool sucks, upgrade it. If it’s analog, dump it. I’ve talked to many geeks about their choice in scales, and most of them (myself included) recommend something in the Tanita family. They’re high-quality, rugged, accurate devices. Make sure you set your scale on a hard surface, too (as carpet foundations do not make for accurate weight measurements).

27. Watch your weight. Some people say that you shouldn’t weigh yourself more than once a week. I’ve been much happier charting my progress every day. No matter what, you need to weigh in at the same time, every time. For me, that’s 10am every morning (or somewhere thereabout). If you decide to weigh yourself every single day, understand that your weight will fluctuate by one or two pounds - and that you should only keep a serious eye on the lengthier trends.

28. One pound a week. If you’re not losing at least one pound a week on your chosen weight loss regimen, you’re (a) stalled, or (b) finished. You might need to push yourself even harder, or (in some cases) let up a little bit while your body plays catch-up. If you lose more than one pound a week, then you’re doing better than average. Expecting to lose five pounds a week just isn’t realistic, though.

29. Maintain your priorities. Sure, your sandwich would taste amazing with an extra tablespoon of mayonnaise… but do you really need it? Rather, is it more important for you to reach your weight loss goal quicker - or have this sandwich taste marginally better? What’ll happen the next time you’re faced with this decision - will you cave again? It’s a slippery slope; don’t lose sight of what’s most important to you.

30. All weight is not equal. Muscle weighs more than fat, but the last thing you want to lose is muscle! For this reason alone, it’s important to have a regular exercise routine somewhere in your schedule. Without exercise, your body is going to burn through muscle first - and you’ll wind up more imbalanced than you were to begin with. You want your body to burn fat, not muscle. You want to lose weight, but you want to lose “fat” weight - not muscle mass.

31. Counteract the “Rainy Day” principle. If you decrease your calorie count without necessarily increasing your physical activity level, your body is going to crash. It’s going to say to itself: “Holy sh*t! I better store these calories as fat, because I’m not getting enough of them - and I don’t want to die.” When you exercise, you set your body’s process to “burn” instead of “save.”

32. Don’t overdo it. If you change something in your lifestyle, you’re probably going to see results - but there’s a law of diminishing returns at play. You can exercise for an extra hour a day for a week and still lose the same amount as you had when you were only exercising half as much. Give your body time to adjust - don’t push yourself too hard or you’re just going to spend your energy on something that’s not necessarily going to give you immediate and direct benefit. This, of course, only applies to those of you wanting to lose fat - not for those who are training for a triathlon.

33. Patterns are good. Once you’ve found your workout groove, do your best to stick with it. Exercise no less than three times a week for 40 - 60 minutes each time, but don’t feel the “need” to do it more than five times over a seven day period. Your body will likely appreciate a burn-off in the morning more, but if you need to relieve stress in the evening - don’t be afraid to adjust your workout schedule accordingly. Schedule making and keeping are important for other areas of your life as well.

34. Sleep it off. To be an efficient fat-burning machine, your body requires at least eight hours of sleep a night. If you think that you’re doing yourself a favor by sleeping less, you’re mistaken. Give your body time to rest itself, both mentally and physically. Sleep is very, very important (if only for mental alertness for the following day). If you feel tired, that’s likely your body’s way of saying: “Shut your eyes, stupid!”

35. Remember that the fork is not a shovel. I eat fast (I swear I can’t help it). Even if I’m not hungry, I want to shovel everything into my mouth in less than a minute. But my brain doesn’t know that my stomach is full until twenty minutes after it actually is. As such, I could stuff myself silly before realizing I didn’t need to consume as much as I did. Try eating half of what’s on your plate, wait ten minutes, then continue to eat if you’re still hungry. You never want to feel full - ever. That’s when you know you’ve eaten too much. If you want a real hunger-stopper, try an Omega 3 and Omega 6 supplement (EFAs) twenty minutes before a meal.

36. Become your own snack fairy. It’s okay to snack between meals, really. Small meals throughout the day are enough to keep you satisfied, as (much like the sensation of being full) you never want to feel hungry. Let your body know it’s going to get a regular regimen of calories. Plus, if you starve yourself for the regular meals, you’re probably going to eat more before your brain tells your mouth to stop. Think about it: breakfast, lunch, and dinner are social constructs at their very core.

37. Love the oil companies. Just like your car needs high-quality oil, so too does your body. Not all oils were created equal, though it’s hotly contested which ones are better for you than others. Personally, I love a good olive oil - it’s 100% natural and is rich with Omega 9 fatty acids. Enova is another one that we’ve found to work quite well in our lifestyle at home. Choose your oil wisely, though - your weight loss goal should be more than simply cosmetic. It’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to food: the more natural something is, the better it is for you.

38. Fat is where it’s at. If you think you can lose weight and keep it off by avoiding all fats, you’re sadly mistaken. In fact, if you think that low fat eating is the only way to go, you might as well just quit now. Your body (and your brain) needs fat to survive! This is why the scientists call “them” essential fatty acids - Omegas 3, 6, and 9. These fats have been stripped from many supermarket shelf items, and it’s your responsibility to put fat back into your dietary plan. Don’t avoid eating fat, embrace it - equally.

39. Bring balance to the force. If you eat the same foods over and over again, you’re going to get bored - unless they’re foods you really, really like. Feel free to change it up - keep your tongue happy. Balance carbs with proteins with fats, though. If you have more of one nutrient for one meal, try more of another nutrient for the next. And for heaven’s sake, don’t just shop in the “diet” section of the store. You can still (likely) eat the same things you’ve always eaten, just not so much of them at any one time.

40. Know your daily calorie limit. When I was in the process of losing weight, it was suggested that I stay under 1700 calories a day. Knowing that number was half the battle. I could eat anything I wanted throughout the day, so long as I would stay at or beneath that number. While I couldn’t track 100% of the items I ate, I was able to make intake estimates - and adjust my schedule and ration my remaining calories accordingly. In this sense, you’re given extreme freedom - so long as you stay at or beneath that suggested calorie level for your plan. If you don’t know how much you’re supposed to take in, how are you supposed to know how much you’re supposed to take in?! Sounds redundant, but it’s a situation that many “dieters” are in (which is why they fail)!

41. Fiber good. When you start to lose fat, you’re probably going to get constipated. Yeah, it happens more frequently than we care to admit (or share). You should have a good amount of fiber every day, anyway. Fiber is very important to your health (and your weight loss goals). Try the Metamucil snack wafers for a quick fiber infusion. Then, magnesium citrate for those… “stuck” moments, in which you’ll find yourself from time to time. Stick a bottle or two of that in your fridge for safe keeping, and don’t plan on going anywhere for 24 hours after taking a dose (trust me, trust me, trust me).

42. Walk the walk. You burn calories when you walk, did you know that? Certainly, you don’t expend as much energy as you do when you run, but you burn it nonetheless. Consider picking up a good pedometer, if only to gauge how many steps you take in the average day. According to others, the Omron HJ112 Premium Pedometer is the one to beat. If nothing else, knowing how many steps you take on the average day will give you a better idea as to your regular activity level - around the home and/or the office. Plus, you can count those steps as calorie deficits in certain programs (like CalorieKing).

43. Train wrecks will happen. One of these nights, you’re going to go out with friends and eat your weight in steak (likely blowing any kind of progress you had made for that day). Instead of repeating the overindulgence, just put yourself back on track the next day. You’re allowed to “mess up” every now and again, so long as you don’t make a habit out of consuming an excessive amount of food. Right the dining injustice immediately. You’ll be okay. You’ll be fine. Just don’t do it again. And again. And again. And again.

44. Satisfy cravings with extreme prejudice. If you’re hungry for something, eat it. Don’t deny yourself the simple pleasures. If it’s possible, eat only half of what you want. Is your craving satisfied, or are you addicted to the flavor? Losing weight shouldn’t be torture for anybody. You have to ask yourself: Is it more important for me to eat this entire case of fudgesicles, or to look good for my brother’s wedding? Only you have the answer to that question, and if you ignore logic, you’re going to hurt yourself in the long-run. Just take a nibble or two - I won’t tell a soul.

45. Water you waiting for? If you’re not drinking enough water, your body will let you know. Thirst is an amazing sensation - quench it. If you’re not hydrated, your body won’t be working at peak levels. Most of your body happens to be water, by the way. If you’re worried about “water weight,” remember that you’re likely to retain more water when you’re not giving your body enough of it in the first place. Besides, that’s what those workout sessions are supposed to help with every other morning. I’m not going to dictate how many glasses you should drink, though - as that’s going to vary from person to person.

46. Join the soda club. Like most people, I love carbonated beverages. However, unlike most people, I love unflavored carbonated beverages - and if your tongue is attune to sugary-sweet drinks, you’re also the kind of person who believes that club soda tastes salty (even when it contains no sodium). Make the move to an unflavored drink sooner rather than later. If you need help along the way, lemons and limes can be your best friends. If you’re going to drink something more than water, at least make sure it’s not going to hinder your progress. If you’re a sugary-soda drinker, dropping it from your daily routine altogether will help you drop ~5 or more pounds in a single week (WITHOUT doing anything else).

47. Sugar is evil that tastes good. You probably don’t want to hear this, but sugar is a bad thing. The more refined it comes, the more your body is going to react negatively to it. Sugar, sugar, sugar is in everything, everything, everything. If it’s sweet, it’s got sugar in it. There are all sorts of sugars out there, and all of them are ultimately metabolized by the body. It’s a good bet that the sugars in an apple are better for you than the sugars in a candy bar, though. If you’re addicted to sugar, this is going to be a horrible hurdle to overcome.

48. Sugar substitutes are just as evil as sugar itself. Do you really think your body knows how to handle something that was man-made? Seriously. These chemically-adjusted products do not occur in the wild; there are no Splenda trees in warmer climates, nor are there NutraSweet plants in the Arctic. In some instances, taking in sugar substitutes may actually increase your levels of hunger! Let’s not forget about all the health issues that might arise from these unnatural substances. If you’re given a choice, it’s almost better to go with something your body knows how to deal with (real, unprocessed sugar). No, it’s much safer (and healthier) to stay away from blue, pink, and yellow packets entirely. Do a Web search for “Artificial Sweeteners May Damage Diet Efforts.” Then sit there and tell me they’re okay? No way.

49. White bread can’t jump. Did you know that white bread isn’t good for you? Oh, it’s true - just ask any diabetic. Research has shown that people who eat more refined products (like white bread) are more likely to have belly fat. Why? It’s simple: your body isn’t getting what it needs. The food industry isn’t the health industry, okay? You can’t trust that they’ve got your best interests at heart (despite all their marketing efforts). If you want the flavor of white bread, please eat the whole grain white bread instead? Sara lee makes a wonderful loaf, as I can personally attest (even though I like rye more than white or wheat). Repeat after me: whole grain white bread, whole grain white bread.

50. Hasta la pasta, baby. Much like its cousin, white bread, refined pasta can damage your health and pinch your weight loss plans. I’m not saying you should quit pasta altogether, but I will suggest that you change your pasta pusher to Barilla. They have a new wheat pasta that’s a dead ringer for the ol’ crappy white stuff you used to eat. “Barilla PLUS” is absolutely fantastic, as well as a good source of fiber and protein. You’re usually going to be better off with a “wheat” option, although traditional wheat pasta has a texture that you might not like (even though I find it perfectly acceptable to my palate).

Now, once you’ve achieved your weight loss goals, what are you going to do to keep the fat at bay? The worst thing you can do is something I’ve done countless times over: get lazy. I’ve conveniently forgotten about all of the aforementioned rules a few times, and it’s put me back in the same situation I don’t want to be in - ever again. While I don’t have to be as careful as I was during the weight loss period, I’m still measuring myself and recording my daily activities. This may turn into a weekly weigh-in soon enough, as it’s easier to correct yourself at 5lbs than it is at 50lbs. Good luck!