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What the Diet Industry Wont Tell You--6 Secrets Revealed

I am not a diet and fitness guru or an obesity expert. I'm just a normal person who was where you are today, overweight and hating it. Two years ago I lost weight without throwing money into the multi-billion dollar diet industry, and you can too. This booklet was written to show you how.

The are six principles upon which successful weight loss is based. These principles are, in order of importance: SELF-ESTEEM, COMMITMENT, MOVEMENT, PROPORTION, and HYDRATION. Consistent application of these principles will result in lasting weight loss and better health. Before I outline just how you can apply these principles in your life, I would like to explore what I feel are some common misconceptions surrounding the attainment of lasting weight loss.

Misconception #1--Being overweight is hereditary, and therefore nothing can be done to help the obese. I feel very strongly about this particular misconception, which I believe was created to bolster the research efforts of so-called obesity experts. First of all let me say that some people, though very few, are born with conditions that make them obese. But for the majority of us, even if both of our parents were fat, obesity is not hereditary. If a child grows up in a household that does not participate in regular and vigorous physical activity, where high-fat, marginally nutritious food is served, and over -eating is the rule, that child will become obese. If a child inherits anything, it inherits bad habits.

Misconception #2--There are short cuts to lasting weight loss. The high incidences of yo-yo dieting tell another story. Let's say you go on a liquid diet and quickly drop 10 pounds or so. Yes, this is a short cut, but will it last? Not likely. Most people who lose weight this way gain it all back--and then some--almost as quickly as they lost it. Remember Oprah? Why doesn't this short cut work? Simple: the dieters never un-learned the unhealthy habits that caused them to gain weight. There are no short cuts to lasting weight loss, period. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you must make lifestyle changes and adhere to them.

Misconception #3--I can achieve lasting weight loss without exercise. I'm sorry, this just isn't true. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. Dieting alone will cause you to drop pounds, but it also works against you by teaching your body to get by on less food, therby slowing down your metabolism or calorie burning capability. This is why if you don't exercise to rev up your metabolism, eating in a normal healthy way will cause you to gain weight. Regular vigorous exercise, 20-30 minutes, 4-5 days per week for beginners, combined with sensible eating, is the only way to achieve lasting weight loss.

Now that we have dispelled three of the most common dieting misconceptions, we can concentrate on how to apply the six principals that will help us achieve and maintain weight loss:

1) SELF-ESTEEM. You may have heard the saying, "it's not what you're eating but what's eating you." Many overweight people suffer from low self-esteem, and sometimes the low self-esteem precedes the weight problem. The latter applied to me. Shy, lonely and lacking confidence, I turned to food for comfort and soon went from a svelte size 7 to a size 16, which made me even more unhappy. When I'd finally had enough of being teased and miserable, I decided it was time to change. I didn't decide to lose weight to look good in a party dress or to please my boyfriend, but because I wanted to. I decided that I was important enough to take care of. My decision was a demonstration of self-esteem. If you don't have self-esteem, if you don't feel worthy of love and acceptance, you will never change. Motivation for weight loss or anything must come from within. So, before you even think about weight loss, do some work on your ego. Make a list of things you have to be thankful for. Make a list of your good points and talents. Tell yourself that you are an important human being and you deserve to be treated with dignity, whatever your size. Most importantly, do not compare yourself with other people. Everyone is unique, with different talents and inheritances. Don't become obsessed with obtaining what someone else has, rather learn to recognize and develop those talents and characteristics that are unique to you. Lastly, reach out to other people. Treat people how you would like to be treated. Look out for volunteer opportunities in your community. Sharing your gifts with others is a wonderful way to make them feel good, and make you feel good about yourself.

Note: some of us may have problems and scars that are so deep we may need professional assistance. If you develop an obsession with food that interferes with your life, or have thoughts of harming yourself or others, seek help immediately from a mental health practitioner.

2) COMMITMENT. Stick-to-it-iveness is the cornerstone of any weight loss regime. Some people call it discipline or will power. But what if you fall off the wagon? Well, that is the real test of commitment. If for whatever reason, you do fall off the wagon, don't worry. You gain nothing by agonizing over a skipped workout or an extra cookie. Instead, concentrate on how you will get right back on that wagon once you have fallen off. Persevere and you will triumph, I promise you. Remember that keeping the weight off is a lifetime commitment. Don't turn it into a lifetime of guilt and recriminations.

3) MOVEMENT. Exercise is absolutely essential to maintain weight loss, and there are no two ways about it. It revs up your metabolism so you can efficiently burn calories, and it helps you feel good about yourself and look great. Establishing exercise as a habit will be difficult at first. I still struggle with the lazies. But consider for a moment all the benefits of exercise, such as: lowered cholesterol and blood pressure; the prevention of diabetes and greater resistance to common illnesses; the slowing down of the aging process and a better sex life. If these benefits don't motivate you, I don't know what will! Exercise should be fun, not a chore. Put it at the top of your to do list and pick an activity you will enjoy. Walking is wonderful for beginners. It costs nothing and you have almost zero chance of getting injured. If you're not sure what to do, visit a local gym or Y, where they have professionals who can help you select an appropriate exercise. If you're over 40 or have a history of being sedentary, make sure to see a physician before starting any exercise program.

Here are some tips to help you stick to your exercise program: 1) enlist the help of a friend who regularly exercises, 2) join an exercise class (be sure that it is convenient and close to work or home), and 3) make exercise a priority by working out at the same time of day every time. In my own experience I have found morning workouts to be the best. If you can adhere to an exercise regime for 90 days, congratulations! You will have established regular exercise as a lifelong habit.

4) PROPORTION. To maintain weight loss, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat. By following sensible portion sizes you won't have to count calories, and you won't overeat. Before I began my weight loss odyssey, I saw a registered dietitian or nutritionist. You can find one at your doctor's office, in private practice, or at your local hospital. Nutritionists are trained to design special diets for people with certain conditions, as well as those seeking to lose weight. A nutritionist will teach you how to eat properly, and how much to eat, in just a few visits. Best of all, the nutritionist will charge you considerably less than the multi-billion dollar diet industry with its powders, pills and pre-packaged foods. Most insurance plans cover visits to nutritionists, usually at 50%. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

5) SUBSTITUTION. If you love junk food, like I do, you are no doubt loath to give it up. The good news is that you don't have to. For every high-cal food there is an equally good tasting low-cal food. How can you find great tasting low fat snack foods? By reading the food labels at the grocery store. For instance, if you love chocolate bars try a York Peppermint Patty. One patty has four grams of fat as compared to the typical candy bar which has---hold on to your hat--14 grams! Instead of potato chips try popcorn or pretzels, which are very low in fat. Can't live without cookies? Then reach for snack wells, fig newtons, gingersnaps or nilla wafers. Got a love affair with hamburgers, pizza and tacos? Make them at home, substituting ground turkey for beef, and skim cheese for regular. You may be surprised to know that you can oven fry your French-fried potatoes and buy non-fat refried beans for your taco. The most important substitution you can make is to throw out high fat dairy products and replace them with skim. You can also get non-fat margarine, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Try these substitutions. Most taste just like the real thing, others take getting used-to, but the savings in calories and fat are significant.

6) HYDRATION. Not drinking enough water can also be harmful to us. Any number of people are walking around almost dehydrated. Drinking a lot of water in and of itself won't help you lose weight. However, many of us mistake feelings of thirst for hunger, so staying properly hydrated can prevent overeating, which often leads to obesity. The other great thing about water is it helps you look great by keeping your skin soft and pliable.

So there you have it. Six principles for lasting weight loss. No bells, no whistles, no fan fare, but most of all no powders, pills, or pre-packaged food. Just good old fashioned common sense. The insanity stops with you. Take care.

The recommendations in this booklet are intended for informational purposes only. Before embarking upon any diet or exercise regime, please consult your physician.

Lynnel Hampton is a native of Seattle, Washington and a graduate of the University of Washington. She holds a BA in English with creative writing emphasis and is currently pursuing an MA in Communications. She is a past winner of The University of Washington's Annual Black History Month Essay Contest.


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