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Five Really Tough Dieting Tips

If you are losing, trying to lose, or think you need to lose, weight, you are probably as sick as I am of those "easy" and "quick" diet tips that NEVER work!

The following tips are neither quick nor easy. They are tough, uncomfortable, and demanding (but they work).

1. Don't Eat.

On a permanent basis, that obviously doesn't make sense unless you have a secret death wish. On a temporary basis, it is worth considering. Just like the recovering alcoholic who takes it one day at a time, not eating for "just today" becomes do-able, once in a while. If you can convince yourself that you can have anything you want to eat, tomorrow, not eating becomes a viable alternative for today. On an even shorter-term basis, delaying a planned meal for a few hours can be useful if you stick to what you had planned to eat and don't wolf everything in sight to "make up" for your temporary deprivation. A decrease in the total caloric intake for the day, the week, the month, is the over-riding goal.

2. Get Your Body Moving.

We all know that activity is necessary to burn up our own fat. Exercise can be tedious, boring, and interferes with getting everything done in our time-starved lives. Those who love exercise, spending hours at the gym or training for marathons, don't have a weight problem like the rest of us couch potatoes. So how do we find the time and the motivation to incorporate some physical movement into our lives? If we don't have the time or the opportunity for exercise sessions (work, commuting, kids, chores), we can sneak activity breaks into stolen moments of time throughout the day. Reset your alarm 15 minutes earlier and perform calisthenics - jumping jacks, killer exercises, sit ups, jump rope - while the coffee brews. Sneak 5 to 10 minutes every few hours during the work day to walk around the building, perform isometrics at your desk, or run up and down the stairs. 5 to 10 minute mini-workouts scattered throughout your usual schedule can add up to an hour or two of activity bursts per day, significantly boosting the equation of calories in vs. calories out that leads to increased weight loss.

3. Eliminate "Kicking it up a notch."

While "BAM!!" spicing up our food is pleasurable and fun, it also increases our intake of calories because our food is so good that our taste buds are in a constant state of excitement. To lose weight consistently, we need to become disinterested in food to the greatest extent possible. Let's face the fact that carrot and celery sticks are never going to make our mouths water; a cup of yogurt, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, or tuna is okay but will never lead to the pure delight of a divine bowl of jambalaya, pasta, a dripping cheeseburger, or a sizzling pizza. We need to limit the excitement in our lives to non-eating activities and keep our food in the boring, tedious range so that we can limit our involvement, enjoyment, and delight in eating. The less we look forward to our meals, the less we will eat which is our goal.

4. Practice positive visualization.

Use props to help you "see" yourself thin so that your weight loss goals become a tangible, vital part of your everyday life. Instead of the latest "Who done it?" mystery novel, read clothes catalogs before going to bed. The airbrushed perfection of the Victoria's Secret and Banana Republic models may be difficult for you to emulate but they do encourage your dreaming of an attractive physical appearance. A mental vision of yourself as model-thin is a technique to pull up every time you are faced with food during the day and bolsters your "won't" power for declining edibles you know you don't need. This technique doesn't work as well for men but encourage the male in your life to emulate their favorite sports figures. Watch movies and television not with an eye to escaping from yourself and your humdrum world but as a peep into a world you intend to inhabit. Visualize yourself as the hero or heroine of your favorite shows: can you even imagine a fat caped crusader, an overweight vamp, or an obese romantic lead? Maintain a clear vision of yourself as slender, sexy, and fit and you have something to help you through the tempting, alluring, almost-impossible-to-resist times in your daily life. It is that mental image of your future self that can encourage you to "just say no" to the immediate delights surrounding you.

5. Eliminate snacking.

The traditional "three squares a day" eating pattern was based on breakfast, lunch, and dinner as the primary meals of the day. Today, it is not just our meals that have led to our national overweight, it is our between-meal snacking that has fostered the epidemic of obesity. Have you noticed that there always seems to be food available? Everywhere we turn, there is something to eat: potato chips, nuts, cake, ice cream, tortillas, chicken wings, Doritos (Saddam's favorite) and a myriad of salty, spicy, salivation-inducing snacks that have nothing to do with our need to eat to survive and everything to do with our overweight. If we can eliminate these between meal boosts and concentrate on three (two is better) meals a day, we can start to bring our weight in line with our goals. Our tendency is to nibble throughout the day - a sprinkling of this, a handful of that, and an eye-hand-mouth combination that results in our 24/7 intake of something. Its allure is incontrovertible: the salty, spicy, or sweet aftermath of their ingestion lingers long on the tongue and the memory (and even longer on the hips).

Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker's Edge, she recently published a psychologically-based weight control e-workbook, "Diet with an Attitude" which develops mental skills towards the goal of permanent weight control.

She can be reached at

She provides support and guidance in use of the workbook through her regular blog,


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