To join the 20 percent who reach the land of leanness, you need to know what tests you'll face along the way and what strategies you can use to best those tests. Keep this week-by-week diet guide handy and turn your resolution into a revolution.
The hard part: You're starving. Really, really starving.
Get through it by...not skimping on breakfast. If you're ravenous during the first few days of your diet, it's because eating fewer calories has your body producing extra ghrelin, a hormone responsible for making you hungry, says Robert Kraemer, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and health studies at Southeastern Louisiana University.
To reduce ghrelin levels while still keeping your calories under control, focus on breakfast. Researchers in the Netherlands found that those who started the day with a high-calorie meal rich in complex carbohydrates produced 33 percent less ghrelin throughout the day and were more likely to feel fuller longer. Aim for a breakfast that's 20 percent of your caloric needs for the day (about 350 calories) and full of slow-burning complex carbs. That means a bowl of raisin bran and one slice of whole-wheat toast with jam, or half a cup of multigrain oatmeal and half a sliced banana sprinkled into a small container of vanilla low-fat yogurt.
The hard part: Going low- cal is making you uptight and edgy.
Get through it by... reaching out to your friends. It's no secret that diets are as tough on your mind as they are on your body: A recent UCLA study linked dieting to chronic stress. "The big part of dieting is changing a behavior, which can be stressful," says Mollie Smith, R.D., a lecturer at California State University's Fresno campus. Unfortunately, tension is doubly dangerous for dieters. Not only can it make you revert to your old eating habits, but it can also keep you fat because cortisol, a hormone released during stress, slows down weight loss.?
This is when you need to rely on your friends for support or even enlist them to join you in your weight-loss crusade. Researchers from the United Kingdom found that women who dieted as part of a group had less stress than those who went it alone. "Group support is very helpful: It allows you to share frustrations with other people and learn successful ways to deal with change from other people," Smith says. And have faith: If you've made it this far, you're only a few days away from having things feel easier. "After 21 days a repeated action becomes a habit," says Rovenia Brock, Ph.D., a nutritionist for BET.
The hard part: PMS munchies have you craving ice cream and potato chips in the same bowl.
Get through it by... eating more often. During the final 14 days of your menstrual cycle, called the luteal phase, progesterone is elevated. When that happens, the feel-good hormone serotonin decreases, along with endorphins and dopamine, two chemicals responsible for helping your body fight stress. The combination makes your mood plummet and your appetite soar. Additionally, insulin sensitivity increases during this phase of the cycle, which can increase your desire to eat.
During this cravings-crazy time of the month, skip your normal 9 A.M., noon, and 6 P.M. feedings and switch to smaller meals spread throughout the day. "Eating four to six small meals a day will stabilize your blood sugar, cut fatigue, and also prevent bloating and lethargic feelings that can lead to overeating," says Gay Riley, R.D., founder of NetNutritionist.com.
The hard part: The scale hasn't budged, despite your best efforts.
Get through it by... trying on your skinny jeans. After about 6 weeks of steady exercise you'll notice you have more muscle and less fat. That's a good thing even though it can temporarily stall the needle on your scale. "Muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue because it's 70 percent water, while fat is 20 percent water," Riley says. But even though your weight might not be dropping, you're still making progress because your new muscle is helping you burn even more fat. (Muscle tissue uses more calories than fat cells do just to stay alive. So the more muscle you possess, the more calories you'll burn even when you're not working out.) To curb the frustration you feel at this point in your diet, look for other ways to measure your progress. Do your clothes feel more comfortable? Can you hold a conversation when you jog? Do you look better? All those count for as much as, if not more than, what the scale says.
The hard part: After steadily losing weight, you stop.
Get through it by... skipping the gym for a week. Take heart in the fact that you're not alone. "Most research shows that weight loss slows or stops at 6 months," says Julie Meyer, R.D., a dietician from Brooklyn. Too much time at the gym can make your body too efficient it figures out how to do the same moves burning fewer calories. Taking time off can be just what your body needs to jolt it back into gear. Do some light jogging during your off time, and come back to a new routine, says Eddie Carrington, fitness director at Bally Total Fitness. The change should be enough to shock your body back into weight loss.
The hard part: You get cocky, thinking you've figured out this diet thing.
Get through it by... knowing that year 2 is just as important as year 1.
After a year you've likely assimilated healthy eating and exercise into your daily life. But you're not quite finished. The world we live in including fast food and eating on the run can make it easy to slide back into old dietary habits. "Right now all these forces are coming together so that when people lose weight, it can be difficult to avoid regaining that weight," says David Gee, Ph.D., professor of food science and nutrition at Central Washington University.
To keep yourself on track, reward yourself for 365 days of success with a body-based treat, such as a new winter wardrobe or a massage. Then get psyched for next year by setting new goals. "If you ran the half marathon last year, this year vow to run the full marathon," says Lona Sandon, R.D., an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. If you vowed to lose 20 pounds but only lost 15, change your goal to a number-free one: finishing a triathlon, wearing a bikini by May.
The good news: If you can keep your healthy habits for another year, you're likely to be a long-term loser. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who maintain a consistent diet through each week for 2 years are 50 percent less likely to regain the weight. You've made it this far; why give up now?
I found this doing research and for me it seems so true... epecially the chocolate.... I hate chocolate except TTOM....... Please give me your input!!!!
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Thanks for posting this. It all makes sense to me and I can identify with the article thus far in my weight loss. I haven't been at it very long, but definately identify with TTOM information - so true. People think I am weird and don't believe me when I tell them that I don't like chocolate except during TTOM! I cannot believe I found someone else like me. And to think, it was on CC! I too tagged the article for future reference and also look forward to reading your posts. Have a great day!
gotta love that 6mos stall!
thx so much for taking the time to post this -- a totally awesome read.
Oh well, one day at a time for now; I'm only 3.5 weeks in!
Extremely helpful! I like that they say you should continue to set goals for yourself, even after the first year.
Very insightful...thanks for posting!
I'm in the week 1 starving mode. Wish me luck!
I never had cravings, I never felt hungry, my mood can't be much better and I lost 30 pounds in 4 months, it's ok I think and while I really take longer to lose "weight" I still lose "mass" at the same speed, as my cloths get bigger and bigger :)
My advice to avoid cravings:
Don't drink cals, don't drink anything but water, it's hard at first but it works, also drink up to 80fl oz or 3-4 litres water a day. Don't skip, as mentoined, breakfast, the sooner you have a breakfast, the sooner your metabolism wakes up, even 100-200 cals are enough. eat lot's of protein, fish and healthy oils. Buy the darkest type of bread available and avoid anything white and processed, don't eat high fat sausages, salami and so on, eat lean ham instead. Don't eat cheese at all, avoid yogurt with more than 40 cals/100ml, eat lot's of fruits and veggies.
Best of all: If you don't drink softdrinks, be it diet or not, you will see after a few days that your cravings will stop, you won't get that feeling to have to eat that package of chips, that bar of chocolate and so on, anymore!
If you don't want to be hungry, then log your cals, stay between 500 and 1000 under your expediture and eat the stuff I mentoined above.
I do wish my diet soda cravings would stop.. I went two weeks without and then "had to" have one... (obviously I wouldn't have physically died without one... but I gave in... missed the bubbles!)
and stuff without calories! no way vendetta.. I'm a wine LOVER! It IS working for me tho.
You know... in the past... my problem was at 18 months of maintenance... I love the "got cocky" statement in the year thing... I gained less than half back of my weight loss... but I did gain.
No more this time... Thanks loosingthepounds! I always love what you have to say... You ARE ms. inspiration! A true cc hero!
This is SO good and a true "Must Read" for anyone on this journey. Totally tagged for future reference and inspiration!