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Diet Cheat Sheet: Food and Exercise Tips to Lose Weight

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Diet Cheat Sheet, continued

Food and Behavior

  • Avoid willpower: Don't think all you need is a good dose of willpower to go against your nature, which is to want sugary and fatty foods. To avoid unhealthy foods that entice you, keep junk foods out of your house. Don't go to the supermarket when you're ravenous -- eat something first. Over time, the healthy stuff tastes great.
  • Forward thinking: Plan ahead for weak "diet" moments. For instance, if you know that Friday is "muffin day" in your office, come up with a healthier alternative that helps prevent you from becoming weak in the knees.
  • Review: Check out all menus from restaurants you frequent beforehand. Come up with three or four preselected healthy choices. Call ahead to find out how various dishes are prepared.
  • Form patterns: Make your new eating behaviors automatic by doing them over and over again. You shouldn't need to take breaks from your "diet." If you have to take a break, you made too many compromises in the first place, and your diet will not last. New eating behaviors need to be comfortable and not too restrictive.
  • Excuse proof: Don't let your family give you an excuse to overeat. Make sure they're aware of your diet and don't bring unhealthy foods into your house.
  • Find a reason why: It helps to know why you actually want to get in shape. For health reasons? Vanity? Think you already know? Make sure. Write it down.
  • Create a goal: How long do you expect it will take to lose the weight you want? A healthy goal is about 1/2 to 1 pound per week. Take it slow, no need to rush.

Activity and Diet

  • Combine it: Research shows that you need to combine diet with activity to lose and maintain your weight. So figure out a way to combine the two.
  • Make it necessary: Incorporate increased physical activity into your daily life. It should be like brushing your teeth. You do it every day, seven days per week, and most of the time without thinking. Having trouble? Try making the activity useful (i.e., something you need to do anyway), such as actually walking the dog instead of just letting him or her out into the backyard.
  • Get motivated: Come up with an activity you will enjoy so that it doesn't seem as if it's a burden.
  • Take a walk: Walking is the number one form of activity to control weight. Locate all available parks, recreation centers, and bike and hiking paths in your area, and use them.


Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, author of The Diet Detective's Calorie Bargain Bible (Simon & Schuster, 2007), and founder of, the health and fitness network. Copyright 2007 by Charles Stuart Platkin.

Reprinted with permission from, July 2007.



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