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The Common Sense Guide to Diet and Exercise:
Sustained Weight Loss Depends on Permanent Changes in Eating Habits

(Article continued below.)

You've just spent a month starving yourself and you've dropped 15 pounds. But you're done dieting now - what a relief! Now you can go back to eating fast food for lunch every day, pouring ladles of full-fat dressing on your salad and eating ice cream again. Guess what? Those 15 pounds will be back sooner than you can say "Hagen Daas," and they'll probably bring a few friends along, too. Someone very wise once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." If you're not happy with your weight, you can't expect it to change if you don't. Exercise is important when it comes to fitness and health, but when it comes to your weight, it's usually diet that determines how much you lose. Even fitness competitors who spend hours in the gym every day admit that diet does at least 75% of the work when it comes to attaining their ultra-lean physiques. This does not mean you have to eat a spartan diet devoid of anything tasty (remember, we're talking common sense here). It means you need to assess the way you eat now and start making adjustments that you can live with. Avoid fad diets that have you eating in radical ways that do nothing to change a lifetime of poor eating habits. Instead, think of ways that you can improve your present diet. You don't have to give up all the scrumptious, fattening stuff - just treat it like what it is: a treat. Are you eating enough vegetables, too many starches - too many calories altogether? Make one or two minor changes at a time. Ease into new ways of eating. Allow yourself to get used to new habits and they're more likely to stick. If you don't know where to start, there are many ways to find help - Weight Watchers, or a certified nutritionist, for example (the latter is good even if you don't want to lose weight, just improve the quality of your diet). If the problem goes deeper - if you have emotional issues surrounding what you eat - consult with a therapist. Real weight loss - the kind that stays off - doesn't happen over night. Same thing with changing your way of eating. Go slowly for lasting results.

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