Simple changes to your lifestyle can help you lose weight and keep it off.
By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Sure, you can lose weight quickly. There are plenty of fad diets that work to shed pounds rapidly -- while leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. But what good is losing weight only to regain it? To keep pounds off permanently, it's best to lose weight slowly. And many experts say you can do that without going on a "diet." Instead, the key is making simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
One pound of fat -- is equal to 3,500 calories. By shaving 500 calories a day through dietary and exercise modifications, you can lose about a pound a week. If you only need to maintain your current weight, shaving 100 calories a day is enough to avoid the extra 1-2 pounds most adults gain each year.
Adopt one or more of these simple, painless strategies to help lose weight without going on a "diet":
SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
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Many people feel as if they're adrift in the world. They work hard, but they don't seem to get anywhere worthwhile.
A key reason that they feel this way is that they haven't spent enough time thinking about what they want from life, and haven't set themselves formal goals. After all, would you set out on a major journey with no real idea of your destination? Probably not! Top-level athletes, successful businesspeople and achievers in all fields all set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the most of your life.
Goal Setting – Think in terms of setting “SMART” goals
You could say that the whole human endeavour is geared towards setting and achieving goals. Goals are part of every aspect of life: how you conduct your relationships, what you want to achieve at work, the way you use your spare time... Everything comes down to priorities, and what you would like to accomplish in every aspect – whether you make a conscious choice or go with subconscious preferences.
Without setting goals or objectives, life becomes a series of chaotic happenings you don't control. You become the plaything of coincidence. Accomplishments like sending someone to the moon, inventing the iPod etcetera are the result of a goal that was set at some point. A vision that was charted and realized.
What is SMART goal setting?
SMART goal setting brings structure and trackability into your goals and objectives. Instead of vague resolutions, SMART goal setting creates verifiable trajectories towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal's attainabililty. Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality.
In corporate life and your personal life, SMART goal setting is one of the most effective and yet least used tools for achieving goals. Once you've charted to outlines of your project or objective, it's time to set specific intermediary goals.
What does S.M.A.R.T. goal setting stand for?
Why not think of a small goal you want to set right now, personal or professional. To make your goal S.M.A.R.T., it needs to conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Specific
What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you'll get exactly that. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between 'I want to be a millionaire' and 'I want to make $50,000 a month for the next ten years by creating a new software product'.
Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are:
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Measurable
Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You'll need concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is. Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Attainable
Is your goal attainable? That means investigating whether the goal really is acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against the profits and the other obligations and priorities you have in life.
If you don't have the time, money or talent to reach a certain goal you'll certainly fail and be miserable. That doesn't mean that you can't take something that seems impossible and make it happen by planning smartly and going for it!
There's nothing wrong with shooting for the stars; if you aim to your improve your health by losing 100 pounds, how bad is it when you only 60 pounds? Not too bad...you still improved your health.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Relevant
Is reaching your goal relevant to you? Do you actually want to run a multinational, be famous, have three children and a busy job? You decide for yourself whether you have the personality for it, or your team has the bandwidth.
If you're lacking certain skills, you can plan trainings. If you lack certain resources, you can look for ways of getting them.
The main questions, why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting: Timely
Time is money! Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines, for yourself and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep your morale high. Being too stringent on the timely aspect of your goal setting can have the perverse effect of making the learning path of achieving your goals and objectives into a hellish race against time – which is most likely not how you want to achieve anything.
If you don't already set goals, do so, starting now. As you make this technique part of your life, you'll find your career accelerating, your personal life more fulfilling, and you'll wonder how you did without it!
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Cecil Williams -