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Are You Guilty of These Diet Crimes?

The scene: Nine p.m. Your living room. The TV is on. The evidence: An empty cookie bag on the floor; crumbs on the sofa. The victim: Your diet. Let our rehab plan reform your delinquent ways.
The All-or-Nothing Dieter The All-or-Nothing Dieter

THE CRIME: When you have the time, you stock the fridge with produce, lean protein, and low-fat dairy and work out five times a week. But as soon as life gets busy you skip the gym and order takeout. "You figure you've already blown your diet, so why bother trying at all?" says Jones.

Your Rehab Plan
Brainstorm a backup. "Just as it's important to have goals for eating and exercising when life is routine, you need a second set for those weeks when things get crazy," Binks explains. For instance, prepare for hectic times by circling healthy options on your take-out menus.

Remember, one slipup doesn't justify a crime spree. "If you ran a red light and got a ticket, would you break every other traffic law for the rest of the day?" Beck asks. Of course not. "Similarly, if you splurge on a piece of cake, don't use it as an excuse to eat whatever you want."

Make small changes. "Trying to revamp all your eating habits at once is overwhelming," notes Michelle Segar, PhD, a women's health behavior psychologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Instead, take baby steps. Spend a few weeks focusing on the two habits you'd most like to improve, such as consuming more fruit and eating out less often. Once these become second nature, you'll find it easier to start making other tweaks.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2009.