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Tip of the day:

7 Things that Separate Weight-Loss Winners & Losers
How to Stay on Top of Your Game

-- By Megan Coatley, Behavior Expert

As you've probably figured out, winning at weight loss is about making long-lasting, life-altering change. Just like any sport or skill, you might start out a little rocky. Choosing healthy foods, trying different workouts, and finding the strategies that work for you will take a little practice. Whether youíre focusing on your diet or hitting the gym, the commitment to long-term weight loss takes the mindset and mental stamina of a champion. Youíve got to have a supportive team and a great playbook to get on a winning streak. In this head-to-head match that lasts a lifetime, itís all about preparation. Your success will be determined by how well you set your strategy and play the game.

We're opening the playbook on the weight-loss game. Here are the winning strategies you'll need!

*Winners Set Small Goals
It seems so straightforward: Your main goal is to lose weight. So, now you can just decide how much to lose and power through to the finish line, right# Unfortunately, simply knowing how many pounds you want to drop may not be enough to help you win this game. Rather than only focusing on the end zone, a better strategy is to set lots of small milestones on your weight-loss journey. Perhaps you want to run a 5K, curl 20-pound dumbbells, squeeze more veggies into your diet, or fit into a smaller pair of jeans. All of these are great goals and tackling each one can keep you motivated to keep fighting the good fight. Plus, meeting these smaller benchmarks gives you the opportunity for more frequent pats on the back. If you only focus weight loss as your main achievement, youíll miss out on celebrating all of the other small victories! Winners Take Breaks and Timeouts

When you first set out to shed pounds, it is easy to overdo it. We all know that the best way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity. But, if you set too many harsh rules and regulations at the start, youíre likely to get overwhelmed by a too-strict diet and a tough-to-follow workout schedule. When youíre developing your weight-loss game plan, make sure that you pencil in time for breaks. Take a diet timeout to enjoy a slice of cake at friendís birthday party. Schedule a relaxing soak in the tub on your day off from the gym. Be sure that your weight-loss rules include moderation and flexibility for you to spend some time (and calories) on the things you love in life. This will help you stay on track longer and reach lasting weight-loss success.

*Winners Are Proud of Themselves
Publicly stating your goals and achievements has been proven to help people make steady progress. Everyone needs some support and accountability, so itís important to let people around you know that youíre working on your weight loss and fitness. Plus, the more pride you show in your new skills, the more likely youíll be to keep practicing them over time. Bring healthy snacks to family gatherings and share the recipe. Challenge your gym buddy to step up to a higher pace on the treadmill. Dare a co-worker to stay away from desserts for one whole week along with you. Letting others in on your goals will make you feel like a champion and can help you take your game to the next level.

*Winners Take On New Challenges
Starting out with small, achievable goals is important for boosting your ego and scoring you some points early in the game. But be ever-mindful of the dreaded boredom that can set in as you adapt to your exercise and diet routines. Challenge creates change! So, when your yoga lessons seem stale, your salads are in a slump, or your local bike trail stops calling your name, you know itís time to mix things up. As you start winning at weight loss, it will be crucial to keep assessing your emotional state and mental focus. Make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping up to new challenges.

*Winners Keep Score
How do you know how well you're doing if you're not keeping score# While "pounds lost" isnít the only important digit to tally, it's important to track your progress in as many ways as possible. Start recording each move in the right direction: how much water you drink each day, how many servings of veggies you eat in a week, how many minutes of exercise you log, and more. Keeping track of more than just the numbers on the scale will help you realize progress when it happens, and this will motivate you to stay on course.

*Winners Are Part of a Team
There is no "I" in "success." We often think of weight loss in terms of individual goals and meal plans. But many others currently share in your same struggle. If we really want to reverse the obesity epidemic, we need to start thinking of weight loss and healthy living as a team sport. And with all the resources available today, from in-person support groups to online forums to workplace wellness committees, no dieter or fitness newbie should feel they have to go it alone. One winning strategy is to reach out within your office, your school, your family, your community and get others psyched up to slim down. The more team members you can recruit to join your weight-loss challenge, the more likely you and your team will rise to victory!

*Winners Make It Fun
What do parents tell their kids the first time they try a new game or sport# "It isnít about whether you win or lose. Just have fun playing the game!" The same advice applies to weight loss. Worrying too much about your waistline can actually cause you to engage in stress eating or become too depressed to work out. When youíre trying hard to stick to your game plan, it is easy to underestimate the joy of the process. Do whatever you can to make healthy choices more fun. Whether youíve discovered a new dog park near home, convinced a neighbor to start a vegetable garden, or counseled a walking buddy through a tough time, getting healthy has likely brought some great experiences your way. Step back every so often and remind yourself to enjoy the game and appreciate the important lessons youíre learning along the way!

EAT RIGHT RULE: If your food can go bad, it's good for you. If it can't go bad, it's bad for you.

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