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Baby Steps Make a Big Difference
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Baby Steps Make a Big Difference

I've met dozens of people on the verge of giving up. They've tried dieting, they've tried exercising, and it just isn't working. They're discouraged and down on themselves, and they've come to me at their wit's end, afraid that they just can't lose weight.

They all want to know the same thing: Can I help them succeed where so many other products and programs have failed?

I can, but my first piece of advice always surprises them: SLOW DOWN.

Our society has become obsessed with instant gratification. We microwave oatmeal, drink instant coffee, and become irrationally frustrated if our cell phones search for a signal for more than five seconds. So naturally, we want our weight-loss success to be nearly as instant as a microwave dinner.

The thing is, when you try to radically change your life overnight, odds are good that you'll eventually slip back into the unhealthy habits you're trying to break. Studies show that if you want to lose weight permanently, your best bet is making small, sustainable changes to your life and routine over time.

To help get you started on your weight-loss goals, consider these tips to creating a healthier life for yourself, bit by bit:

  1. Add water to your diet. Most Americans don't drink enough water. How much is enough? Experts advise that you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces each day. If that idea intimidates you, consider strategically adding water to your diet throughout the day. For instance, I try to drink an extra glass (8 ounces) of water while I'm preparing meals. With three meals a day, that's 24 additional ounces right there!

  2. Take the stairs. If your day is too packed to make it to the gym, make a gym in your office. Rather than taking the elevator to the lobby, burn calories by hoofing it down the stairs for a few minutes of cardio in the middle of the day.

  3. Walk your errands. This goes along with point #2, and applies mostly to city dwellers: Do your wallet and the environment a favor and leave the car at home when running errands whenever possible. Not only is walking a great way to lose weight, but spending time outside has well-documented health benefits. If you live too far away, consider driving someplace central to all your errands and walking from there.

  4. Get more sleep. This one may be my favorite. Sleep is absolutely essential if you want to lose weight and be healthy. But in spite of that, too many people skimp out on sleep because they have "more important" things to do. Although going from your current five hours to a full eight hours of sleep a night may seem impossible, you can build up to it gradually by going to bed a half hour earlier each week until you reach that magic number. Your body will have more time to rejuvenate and recover, and you'll have more time to dream about how great it will feel when you've reached your fitness goals.