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End the Yo-Yo Diet Cycle

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More Stick-to-It Weight-Loss Strategies

Kick It Up a Notch

Your weight isn't the only thing that can yo-yo; motivation can wax and wane too. Instead of skipping your workout when you're feeling less than inspired, get over the hump by intensifying your efforts. "Pushing yourself a bit harder than usual shows that you can take on and tackle tough challenges, which boosts your confidence," says Christina R. Johnson, PhD, professor of sport and exercise psychology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The more pumped you are, the easier it is to bounce back from inevitable setbacks and plateaus. The next time you're dragging, partner with a faster friend for your usual four-mile run or opt for the advanced yoga class rather than the intermediate one.

Know How Low You Should Go

If you find yourself stuck at a certain weight for more than a month, it could be that you're fighting an unnecessary battle. "You may want to be 130 pounds, but if you're doing everything you can -- watching portions and exercising -- it may not be right for your body," Gans says. To gauge whether you've lost enough weight, take a good look at your body. If you've got a lot of excess around your tummy, you probably should keep trying to lose a few more pounds, Dr. Pennington says, since belly flab is linked to heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer. But if the fat is in your hips and butt and your body-mass index is within a healthy range (18.5 to 24.9), it may be time to stop dieting and start maintaining.

Find a Success Story

You know that sticking to a diet is easier if you have a friend who is also shedding pounds. But teaming up with someone who has already lost the weight and kept it off can be even more useful, says Judith S. Beck, PhD, author of The Beck Diet Solution. "A mentor can empathize, help you navigate potential pitfalls, and remind you of how good it feels to be in control of your body," Beck says. You can find your own successful loser on our message boards or at group meetings of a program like Weight Watchers.

Make a Clean Sweep

A messy house can interfere with your efforts to make smart choices, says Peter Walsh, an organizational expert and author of It's All Too Much. It's hard to feel inspired to hit the treadmill if it's serving as a clothes hanger or to go for a walk if you can't find your sneakers. Plus, "an overflowing pantry or fridge makes it more likely that at mealtime you'll opt for takeout or packaged food instead of digging around to see if you have healthy ingredients to cook," Walsh explains. A few hours spent cleaning can do wonders for your waistline. Walsh suggests starting with the kitchen: Clear the counters so you have no excuse not to prepare meals. Then clean out and restock your pantry and fridge with good-for-you picks -- fruits, vegetables, lean meats, soups, and whole grains. It's simple to whip up a quick, satisfying dinner when you know you've got tasty foods on hand.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, October 2010.



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