We’ve all had that experience of waking up in the morning weighing a certain amount, then stepping on the scale that night only to learn that we’ve “gained 4 pounds.” Yes, your body weights 4 pounds more, but NO, you did NOT gain 4 pounds of mass on your body! You probably ate food, drank water, and haven’t cleared that out of your body yet.

In order to gain a pound of actual body tissue, you’d need to eat a surplus of 3500 calories above what your body burns. Most people I know would really have to make an effort to eat a 1000 calorie surplus in a day. At that rate, it would take 2 weeks to ACTUALLY gain 4 pounds. That’s what it takes to GAIN mass.

So let’s look at what it takes to ACTUALLY LOSE body mass.

Fat loss or body mass loss in general is a 4 phase process:

Contents

Phase -1 – GLYCOGEN DEPLETION

Glycogen Depletion:

You body has sugar (called glycogen when it’s in a stored state) stored ready to fuel whatever work your body does – thinking, staying warm, moving, etc. The average sized human stores up to 300-400 calories of glycogen in the liver and 2,000-10,000 calories in muscles. The liver is like a cup – it’s a fixed sized and can be filled and emptied. The muscles cells are like balloons – they visibly grown and shrink; and the more you exercise, the more the muscles can hold.

As you enter a calorie deficit, your body will initially burn off whatever stores are in the liver, and a small percentage of stores in the muscles. Think about this like spending what is in your savings account. Just like you don’t like writing big checks out of your savings account, your body won’t fully deplete muscles store. After burning a small percentage, then it will look to body fat for additional energy.

Weight loss from glycogen depletion is NOT to be confused with weight loss from dehydration:

Dehydration:

There are things you can do to manipulate your body to decrease the amount of water it is storing (dehydrate). Although bloating (storing extra water) is uncomfortable and generally NOT the look any is going for, dehydrating yields results that don’t last and can be dangerous.

Safely speaking, the body will dehydrate a sate amount through the night, then those fluids should be replenished every day. Water is actually required to burn stored body fat, and NOT something that you want to cut out ever when you’re trying to lose body fat.

Phase -2 – FAT LOSS

This is the sweet spot for healthy weight loss. You want to stay here as long as you can until you reach your desired weight. In this phase, you will feel hungry before meals (but not starving) you will have good energy, sleep well, and see a healthy rate of weight loss.

Phase -3 – PLATEAU

Plateau is the phase you enter when you’ve gotten a little bit carried away with creating a caloric deficit, and your body decreases the amount of work (metabolism) it’s doing to preserve energy, thereby sabotaging your fat loss efforts. You could be eating the exact same way you were when you were in the fat loss phase, you body just says, “Enough.”

Think about if you were spending money out of your savings account – going shopping, buying whatever you wanted – then one day you realize you’re spending WAAAY more than you’re making, and panic. So you not only stop shopping, but you shut off cable, cancel your annual family vacation, and take the kids out of gymnastics class. It’s a last resort to not run out of money and go broke. Plateau is your body’s last resort to not run our of energy and die.

I personally enjoy the feeling of being in depletion and fat loss. When you’re in that phase, eating less or exercising more gives a light, euphoric feeling and it’s easy to take it too far.

If your fat loss stops, you are not performing as well during your workouts, and your body actually looks or feels like it’s losing tone, it’s time to get to Phase 4 – as fast as you can!

Phase -4 – METABOLIC RECOVERY

To get OUT of PLATEAU phase, you’ll need to help your body recover your metabolism back to it’s normal rate. It’s like getting back to a normal spending routine – put the kids back into their gymnastics class, turn the cable back on, get back to taking vacations – which requires getting back into a normal earning / EATING routine. As you start to give your body more and more energy (slowly), it will resume normal function over time.

Be WARNED – as you recover your metabolism, your body will rehydrate and replenish glycogen store, and the scale WILL GO UP. This DOES NOT necessarily mean that you are gaining body mass, but it could. Check out How to Heal Your Metabolism with Reverse Dieting for the full guide on healing your metabolism successfully without actually gaining weight.

As a gauge, on the low end, a 5’0” foot sedentary female should work up to 1180 calories without gaining weight.

On the high end 6′ tall active 20 year old male should be working up to 2400 calories to recover metabolism.

All the Phases of Weight Management:

Phase +2: Weight Gain
Phase +1: Maximum Glycogen Stores
Phase 0: Maintenance
Phase – 1: Glycogen Depletion
Phase -2: Fat Loss
Phase – 3: Plateau
Phase -4: Metabolism Recovery

I personally currently bounce back and forth between maintenance and glycogen depletion. I’ve been spending the past month plus making sure my metabolism is FIRED UP so I’m fulled prepped to drop into fat loss when the weather warms up!

What Phase are you currently in?? Please share in the comments – I’d love to know!

Larah Kornfeind, MA, CPT, co-owner of Lift and Live Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with her Masters in Education and BA in Biology has utilized diet and exercise to help over hundred of others and herself to overcome severe digestive issues post stomach surgery at 18 years old, depression and anxiety in early 20’s, PCOS diagnosed at 23, pre-diabetes at 31, nail biting (since I was a little kid, I stopped when I was 31 as a nice side effect to correcting nutritional deficits), and to create two beautiful boys (currently ages 2 and 4) and nurse each of them until 11+ months of age.

Losing weight is not a linear process.

You may think if you keep doing the same things that helped you shed the first 10 pounds, the next 10 will come off just as quickly.

But rarely does it happen that way.

This past week, one of my successful past clients — we’ll call him Curtis because that’s his name — came to me with a question.

So I gained 4 pounds over the last week or so that I can’t seem to shed. Body hasn’t changed much other than some more leg and arm muscle. Gym on a regular basis still. Did I hit that stand still point? Is it muscle? I’m lost.

For a frame of reference, he’d lost more than 20 lbs and a pant size in 8 weeks as part of my Mansformation program.

He could wear clothes he used to be able to fit into but hadn’t in some time.

His fiancé noticed he was walking around shirtless – even in the winter (this aversion to shirts is a common side effect of Mansformation)

But what was happening now?

There’s less room for error as you progress. And as we said earlier, weight loss isn’t linear.

Many think that with just a little more time, the abs start popping and the super hero physique emerges.

Curtis is not alone in that perception – but reality tells a different story.

There are two lines of thought when it comes to fitness…

  1. With just a few changes to one’s diet and exercise routine, you can look like a magazine cover model.
  2. It’s either all or nothing. Getting into shape requires sacrifice, restriction, and mountains of broccoli.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Many people need fitness in their lives. How much of it will depend on your goal (and which stage of fat loss you’re striving for).

Data reported on by Precision Nutrition says the average American is about 28% body fat, and the average woman is 40% fat.

Research suggests men should be sub-20% bodyfat for optimal health, while women should be in the 20-30% range.

Visual representation of bodyfat percentages courtesy jasondoesstuff.com

If you aren’t in that healthy range, how do you get there?

Here are some simple guidelines to follow for each stage:

STAGE 1 (Under 20% for men, 30% for women)

  • Adopt some form of exercise 3 times per week and be consistent over months
  • Emphasize protein and veggies with every meal (fill up half your plate)
  • Eliminate liquid sugary drinks and moderate your alcohol intake (i.e. no binge drinking)
  • Home cooked meals 80% of the time and watch your portions

STAGE 2 (Under 15% for men, under 25% for women)

  • Exercise daily (not necessarily weight training, but sweat daily)
  • Go out of your way to get in extra activity (step counter, take the stairs etc.)
  • Sleep consistently 7 hours a night and manage stress
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 nights a week at no more than 2 drinks per sitting
  • Home cooked meals 90% of the time and measure your food (or at least have a good idea of calorie intake)

STAGE 3 (Under 10% for men, 20% women)

  • Resistance training up to 6 times per week plus regular cardio
  • De-stress daily through meditation or self care (massage, steam room)
  • Adopt hunger management strategies (gum, coffee) as you’re fighting tooth-and-nail with your own biology at this point
  • Limit cheat treats to once per week (prepare own meals 95% of the time and measure every ounce of food that goes in your pie hole)

STAGE 1 (20%/30%)

Guidelines

  • Adopt some form of exercise 2-3 times per week and be consistent
  • Emphasize protein and veggies with every meal (fill up half your plate)
  • Eliminate liquid sugary drinks and moderate your alcohol intake (i.e. no binge drinking)

For most, simply changing some foundational habits will help you get to this level of leanness. Of course, it takes time and relentless consistency, and everyone progresses at different paces. This isn’t a quick fix.

But you cannot go wrong starting with three whole body weight training workouts per week, reducing your sugar and alcohol intake, and prioritizing protein and veggies in nearly every meal.

If you’re looking for a place to start, get instant access to my FREE Diet Secrets 2 Page Guide (past participants lost anywhere from 5 to 12 lbs of fat in two weeks) >> <<

Get the Diet Secrets FREE!

How do you know things are working in Stage 1?

Keep a close eye on visible changes through scale weight, waist circumference and bodyfat % (if you have tools available to assess).

Most importantly, as you lose weight and enter Stage 1, you’ll experience a number of benefits that you may not have experienced at a heavier weight.

You have more energy.

Are you slogging your way through the day? Midafternoon, you need a caffeine and sugar hit to keep your eyelids propped open and the only bar you’re getting under after work is the one in your basement that holds the liquor. If you have plenty of buzz to play with the kids after 5, you’re on the right track.

Your clothes feel just a little looser.

Adding muscle is a big priority in my programs, and for good reason. Muscle looks great, building it can help raise your metabolism and help your clothes fit better. That old beer t-shirt doesn’t fit (fortunately or unfortunately?), because your chest and arms are now too muscular for it.
You’re sleeping better.

There can be many reasons for poor sleep: stress, aging, hormonal changes, being a new parent, getting too much light late at night, jet lag, and so on.

But nutrition and exercise can play a role. For instance, if you over-eat heavy meals late at night, it can cut into your sleep. I usually recommend one of my client approved meals 2-3 hours before bed and one of the recommended snacks only if needed.

Alcohol and caffeine can have a negative impact. I usually recommend caffeine be eliminated before 5 pm (some people metabolize it slower than others and I push the deadline up) and alcohol no more than 2 hours prior. You know those nights where you drift into an alcohol-induced slumber and feel partially awake all night? Deep sleep is compromised.

Take home point: Realistically, you could get into Stage 1 of fat loss and work to maintain it and be perfectly healthy (in general terms). But many get here and think “What’s next?”

They want to get a body that turns heads… which takes us to stage 2.

STAGE 2 (15%/25%)

Guidelines:

  • Exercise daily (not necessarily weight training, but sweat daily)
  • Go out of your way to get in extra activity (step counter, take the stairs etc.)
  • Sleep consistently 7 hours a night and manage stress
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 nights a week at no more than 2 drinks per sitting

Curtis (our example above) was entering this stage and finding it harder to get results. That’s common.

You’re now pushing your body beyond its comfort zone and further from its set point. Achieving a bodyfat percentage below 15% for men (25% for women) is no easy task, and is definitely harder for some than others. Genetics are a B after all.

Depending on how long you were overweight, it may be a struggle at first to maintain this level of conditioning. You’ll have to make the gym a big part of your routine, prep meals for the day ahead and really hone in on your sleep and recovery (sacrificing some social engagements in the process).

STAGE 3 (10%/20%)

Guidelines

  • Resistance training up to 6 times per week plus cardio
  • Limit cheat treats to once per week
  • De-stress daily through meditation or self care (massage, steam room)
  • Adopt hunger management strategies (gum, coffee) as you’re fighting tooth-and-nail with your own biology at this point
  • Often performance drugs or stimulants required

This is an area reserved for the…

  1. 1% who can maintain this condition with little consequences (likely not you)
  2. Elite bodybuilders getting ready for a contest and models getting ready for a photoshoot (plus normal humans who want to look great for a short moment in time)

The process required to drop to single digits in bodyfat goes against biological cues.

You’ll be hungry. Irritable. Fatigued. On the verge of throat punching that door-to-door salesman. You know, side effects of being “hangry” but, like, all the damn time.

Again, these symptoms aren’t universal but they impact the majority of my clients who approach this goal naturally with average genetics.

We’re not talking juiced up college kid or Chris Hemsworth here – average joes here.

So, for normal humans, chasing a six pack can negatively impact your sex life, work life and everything else that goes with it.

Sure, if you have a photoshoot or wedding and want veins coming out of your dress shirt, then maybe Stage 3 is worth your time. But I warn you to exercise caution and only go for it if it’s what you truly want.

Many turn to steroids to achieve this look. Others choke down stimulants (nicotine, ephedrine) by the handfuls to curb hunger along the way and suffer anxiety, disrupted sleep and a tanked hormonal profile. Some also sacrifice relationships and become a hermit to get there (I’ve done it).

Look, here’s me at my leanest a few years back. About 11-12% bodyfat.

I just looked skinny with a shirt on.. really flat, but the abs photo on my About page was taken at the end of this diet.

Cool. I had some semblance of abs. But I also had low libido (partly from the diet and partly from ephedrine), poor energy and hated life at times.

Interestingly enough, the last month of the diet I had a massive cheat day every Saturday, complete with 600+ grams of carbs (think kid’s cereal, pancakes, sweets) just to keep my metabolism from tanking.

But I hated the other 6 days of the week.

So, with that said… it’s on you to decide. Which stage do you want? Review the bottom section below to guide you.

What’s Next?

  • Figure out your goals and priorities. Do you want to be healthy and full of energy or do you want to be shredded? Rare to achieve both for any considerably length of time.
  • Decide which stage you want to strive for. Make sure what you can realistically commit to the guidelines that align with the stage you’re focused on getting to.
  • Need a place to start? Download my free Diet Secrets fat loss guide to simplify the whole process and get you started.

Get instant access to my FREE Diet Secrets 2 Page Guide (past participants lost anywhere from 5 to 12 lbs of fat in two weeks).

Get it FREE!

Pooja Parikh Traveled Across The World For The HS Diagnosis That Changed Her Life Forever

anniejanssen

At some point in your life, you come across your scale, your favorite pants, or your reflection in the mirror and say to yourself, “Woah, I think it’s time to cut back a little.” Whether it’s 5 pounds or 50 pounds or 150 pounds, losing weight is a mental and physical challenge that is a part of most people’s lives at one point or another. If you have lost weight, are losing weight, or are planning to lose weight – there are so many stages that eventually lead you to your goal. And while every experience is different for every person, it can be extremely challenging.

1. The “Holy Sh*t My Clothes Don’t Fit” Stage

The day has come. You decided to put on a pair of your non-stretch jeans and they don’t button. After many nights out drinking beer after beer, a stop at that Mexican joint every week to “treat yourself,” and binge eating pasta after a horrible break up – you did it. You gained weight and now all of your clothes look weird. It feels uncomfortable to sit a certain way. You have a double chin in all of your selfies, and not on purpose. You know you are still your beautiful self, but perhaps a little less healthy. You’re all of the sudden self-conscious of what you look like for the first time in a long time. You know that this was not a sudden weight gain, but it’s the first time you are recognizing it.

2. The Denial Stage

You end up researching the hell out of food, recipes, and specialty diets, but it ends up just making you hungry. So you end up eating all of the bad food in your cabinets because “you should probably get rid of it…but it would be a waste to just throw it out.” After that, you think to yourself that you’re totally fine with how you look. After all, you are a beautiful human being…until you realize you aren’t totally fine with the extra pounds. You’re not fine with the extra chin, or with how you get heartburn all the time. You cut out the crap (literally and figuratively), and accept that you need to seriously think about how you want to approach your impending weight loss and healthier lifestyle.

3. The “Okay, Fine. I Need To Do Something About This” Stage

So, after acknowledging your weight gain, you have come to terms with the fact that you want to do something about it. You want to lose it, or at least some of it (face it, the new booty you gained is GREAT). You choose a diet method, you become a little more active. But it’s baby steps – and that is totally fine. You have now taken this on seriously. You’re excited to try new recipes and adjust your lifestyle to focus on healthier habits.

4. The “I’ve Been Good For A Week” Stage

You’re proud. You made it…one week. You are already feeling good and happy and healthy. You deserve all of these feelings of pride after working hard to eat right and exercise. After all, the first week is the hardest. But, you get a little cocky and expect to see the number on the scale drastically drop and that all of a sudden you can fit into clothes 3 sizes smaller. But truth be told, you are relatively the same. You are the same, yet so different because you have made steps to a healthier you. It might not be apparent right away, but the first start to losing weight is all about the change in your mentality. You’re already steps ahead of where you were a few weeks ago, even though it might not seem like it’s paying off.

5. The “I Have An Event/Holiday/Fun Weekend And Am Going To Go Off Of The Deep End” Stage

So you were doing well. Perhaps you lost a few pounds, or have simply just been eating better quality foods and have been feeling good. And then, it happened. You caved. You ate piles of pasta slathered in oil, you went for that 10 piece chicken nugget with large french fries, you accidentally stumbled into that Mexican restaurant at 2 in the morning for a burrito supreme. And you thought you would stop there, but no. No, no, you kept going because you thought to yourself “I already ruined my diet today/yesterday/this week.” So that one little treat or occasion that made you think that you have worked hard enough to “deserve this,” comes and bites you in the ass. You find yourself going off the deep end and diving head first into a pile of whipped cream. It happens though, and you just have to be able to get your mind back into it. We are all human, after all.

6. The “Getting Back On Track” Stage

So you relapsed, but it’s not the end of the world. Everyone deserves a treat now and then, but you can’t let yourself spiral into the junk food pit of no return – which you almost just did. So you readjust yourself again. You promise yourself that you are not going to be “that person” that always says their diet starts on Monday…every Monday. No – it starts right now and you are finally in a place where you can be serious about it. You remember that first week and how good you felt. You remember how many Tums you had to chew after that burrito. And most importantly, you remember the goals you set.

7. The “Finally Seeing Results” Stage

And just like that, you’ve made a noticeable difference in your appearance. The scale has been showing that difference for a while, but now you have friends and family asking if you have lost weight. You can proudly flaunt what you got because with the weight that you lost, you have gained a little more confidence. Your clothes start to not fit anymore in a good way, and most importantly – you feel good. You feel lighter, you have more energy. You wonder how on earth you could have let yourself eat meals that were not healthy for you when eating healthier feels so much better. You have grown to love this new lifestyle; the new ways of eating and being active have become routine. It’s not strange to cut back or be mindful of everything that you put in your mouth. It’s just something you do now – and everyone is noticing.

8. The “I Can Cheat A Little” Stage

You’ve been strict. You’ve been good. You’ve seen your results, and now you feel comfortable enough to have that slice of cake because you know you won’t spiral down into the junk food pit of no return, like you may have done before. You feel confident about grabbing that extra snack because you know you will be right back on track. You know how much better you feel when you eat healthy. Since you have been eating better, you are able to sneak in that favorite snack or go for a fun meal out. You know how to balance a cheat meal into the rest of your day without going overboard. Or perhaps, you find a way to have your favorite items but in a healthier way. Regardless, you know what options you have to treat yourself that won’t allow you to gain back what you lost.

9. The “Final Countdown” Stage

For whatever reason, you can’t lose those last 3 pounds. You don’t know what it is, but they won’t go away. It is beyond infuriating because you are trying SO hard. Perhaps you cheat a little too much or are getting a little comfortable. Perhaps it is just your body saying to itself that it is happy with the healthy weight you are at again. Regardless, you are a goal-oriented, strong person and you know you can do it. Now is not the time to give up, and you end up cutting all of those “cheat meals” or extra snacks you have afforded yourself after all this time. You are in the home stretch, and it’s only a matter of time until you make your goal.

10. “GOALLLLLL!” Stage

You did it. You achieved your goal. Celebrate it, because this is only the beginning of a healthier you. You know how good it feels to eat healthy. You know how doable it is to allow yourself a treat every now and then without going overboard. You have achieved a goal that wasn’t easy, but it is oh so rewarding. You have grown from this experience wholeheartedly, and most importantly the benefits are priceless. You should be so proud of yourself for going under one of the most drastic changes a person can go through. You should be so proud of yourself for working towards a healthier lifestyle that will benefit you for years to come.

Bereavement, Grief & Malnutrition

Loss Of Appetite, Weight Loss And Malnutrition In Grief And Bereavement

When someone close passes away, or something very precious is lost, feeling grief is natural. Dealing with significant loss is probably one of the most difficult and challenging times in a person’s life. Every year around 5-9 per cent of the population loses a close family member. Bereavement is the most difficult loss to deal with, and experiencing the grieving process is normal for most people.1

Other causes of grief include becoming separate from a loved one, for example when a partner goes into hospital or nursing home, or when a pet dies. Even retirement can leave someone feeling lost, empty and grieving.

Some people cope with grief and loss better than others, but grieving can lead to a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, and these feelings can take over.

The Effects Of Grief And Depression On Physical Health

Depression is one stage in the grieving process, and common signs of depression include trouble sleeping, crying, fatigue and poor appetite together with feeling such as self-pity, feeling lonely and anxious. 2

Bereavement, grief and depression can have a devastating impact on a person’s physical health and even more so in older adults. The loss of life partner radically alters a person’s social environment to such an extent that it leads to the disruption of daily routines and behaviours. A grieving person may neglect himself or herself and it is important that family members and healthcare professionals are aware and alert to recognising the signs of self-neglect. 3

Reduced Appetite, Lack Of Interest In Food Negatively Impact On Nutrient Intake

Changes in eating patterns have a significant impact on health. Changing eating behaviour, and the negative feelings associated with grief can leave many with a lack of appetite and disinterested in food and eating. From a nutritional perspective, this has an adverse impact on nutrient intake and lead to undernutrition and weight loss. Also, the physiological effects of depression and social factors such as isolation and lack of social support can further impact on a grieving person’s dietary intake and physical health. 3

Other Factors Also Contribute To Malnutrition

The underlying causes of malnutrition, weight loss and poor appetite are complex and multifactorial, meaning that the emotional reaction to the loss of a family member may be part of a range of factors impacting a person’s diet.

For example, an older adult who has lost a partner may also have several chronic illnesses such as type-2 diabetes, kidney failure and early dementia, and as a result may forget or neglect to take medications. Poorly managed chronic diseases can further contribute to poor nutritional intake and weight loss. 4

Practical Tips For Preventing Malnutrition In Someone Grieving

For people experiencing grief and depression, it is important that they have the support of services such as grief counselling or have access to social services. In the UK, services such as bereavement counselling can help someone cope better with loss and grief. 1

You can find more information about available bereavement services on the NHS website.

GP’s and other healthcare professionals play a significant role in screening for and recognising the signs of depression and referring to appropriate support services.

A family member can make sure there is adequate assistance with everyday tasks like shopping, meal preparation and provide company at meal times. Consider convenience foods, ready meals and meal delivery services, which might play a role in helping maintain oral intake.

With reduced appetite, it is important that someone tries to sustain their oral intake and a good strategy is to have small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day. Nutritious drinks, such as whole milk, milkshakes, fruit juice, fruit smoothies and milky hot drinks all of which can play a role in helping someone maintain energy and calorie intake. This is known as the food first approach and something that we would always recommend first.

AYMES Nutritional Supplements Are A Quick And Convenient Way To Get Nutrition And Can Help Support Someone Experiencing Grief And Depression

Fortified milkshakes such as AYMES Retail are available over the counter at pharmacies and online and provide an easy way to maintain oral intake, improve nutritional status and prevent weight loss since they contain the full range of vitamins, minerals, protein and calories.

Oral nutritional supplements, such as AYMES Shake and AYMES Complete are also available on prescription and can improve intake and help stop weight loss in someone experiencing loss of appetite and depression while grieving.

For more information about AYMES products please contact our Customer Care Team.

How to overcome grief’s health-damaging effects

The deaths of friends and family members become more common as you age. Here is how to endure the grieving process.

Published: April, 2018


Image: © kali9/Getty Images

Most men don’t face much personal loss early in their lives. Yet, once they reach a certain age, they will encounter the experience of losing someone important to them — a spouse, a friend, a relative — and the feelings of grief that often follow.

“Grief is a natural response to loss, but it is something that men are not prepared for, and they often struggle to understand how it can affect their lives,” says Dr. Eric Bui, associate director for research at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

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Stages of Change in Weight Loss

Sustained weight loss is difficult to achieve. It requires discipline, perserverence and a willingness to make lifestyle changes. Such changes do not occur overnight. Rather, most people pass through a series of predictable stages of motivation and action en route to weight loss.

Challenge

Successful programs for weight loss usually start with a challenge. Perhaps you try on a favorite skirt or pair of pants and find that you can no longer fit into them comfortably. Perhaps your high school reunion is in a few months and you compare yourself today with the pictures from your yearbook. These or similar events get you thinking about weight loss and challenge you to make it happen. A challenge can be the first step in your successful journey, but only when you chose to take that challenge seriously.

Awareness

Taking a weight loss challenge seriously means devoting time to learning about ways to successfully accomplish weight loss. Awareness means learning about nutrition and the realities of weight loss. Numerous resources including books, magazine articles and websites (including this one) are available to help you gain this necessary knowledge. While you need not become an expert, you do have to learn enough to figure out which of the many weight loss programs and strategies will likely work best for you. All too often this important “awareness” stage gets skipped and people end up sabotage their chances for real weight loss by choosing unworkable programs or by setting impossible goals.

Preparation

Proper preparation is often key to success. Preparing a weight loss program means setting up the conditions that will make it most easily possible for you to sustain your weight loss program. Preparation tasks may include getting kitchen supplies in order, deciding on what kind of dietary and weight records to keep, and setting a date to begin your diet. If your house is full of food temptations, you’ll want to throw them away or find them a new home. It’s important that you tailor your approach to your lifestyle and needs. The diet your neighbor used might not work for you.

Most importantly, you must break your ultimate weight loss goal down into little, achievable mini-goals so that you won’t easily become discouraged during your diet. You may want to lose 100 pounds or more, but you should not delay rewarding yourself for progress towards this goal until all 100 pounds have been shed. Instead, you should reward yourself for each several pounds lost along the way. Reward opportunities should be frequent and the distance from mini-goal to mini-goal should never be too long. Your larger weight loss goal will stand a far better chance of being achieved if you take the time to break it down into small, achievable sub-goals versus if you try to meet it all at once.

Action

Action means actually getting started with your weight loss program. The effort you previously put into identifying, preparing and tailoring your weight loss program and breaking down your program goals into manageable chunks pays off now in the form of your greater likelihood of sticking with your program over time. Be sure to keep records of your weight and diet so that you can actually chart your progress over time. If you’re exercising too, keep records of your exercise sessions.

Maintaining your goals

If nothing else, your efforts at weight reduction will likely teach you the virtues of humility and patience. It’s somewhat likely that your first efforts at dieting will be unsuccessful, or will produce only partial success that gets erased as you gain back the weight you’ve managed to lose. When a lapse from your program occurs, keep in mind that change is more of a spiral than a straight line. You will lapse from time to time. You may gain a pound or two. Everyone does. Lapses become become failures only when they successfully intimidate you into stopping your weight reduction program. Those who are ultimately most successful in sustaining weight loss learn from their lapses instead of being intimidated by them. The best thing to do when lapses occur is to go to sleep that night and wake up the next day recommitted to following your weight loss program. Or, in other words, “if you fall off the horse, get right back on.” Failure is an opportunity for you to reflect on why you have failed to maintain your goals, and to make adjustments to your goals or your resolve so as to more successfully meet your goals in the future. You may need to increase your awareness in a specific area or prepare more before getting back into the action stage.

Stages of weight loss

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