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How to Change Your Diet to Lose Weight...The Practical Way.

When it comes to getting the body you want, the moment you feel it is time for change, realize that change takes time. Time takes patience, and with patience comes the ability to be consistent, which is absolutely imperative for lasting results.

I think the image above humorously conveys the typical thought process a person goes through when trying to formulate any type of plan or strategy toward a goal.

As you can see in the diagram, most of the downfalls occur around the "fast" section. You can't expect to wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and notice that overnight you became a super model. Maybe if you're still dreaming you can, but not in reality! You need to first know how to walk before you can run or you're just going to fall flat on your face.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I originally thought I could just cut all the bad food I ate everyday out of my routine and just replace them with smarter and healthier foods, so the moment I decided to make a change I went "cold turkey" and stopped eating bread, chocolate, and fried foods. I stopped drinking soda and started drinking water.

I went a pretty long time before I crashed and broke down. Eight weeks later I was back eating ALL the foods I loved and, not surprisingly, gained back ALL the weight I had lost. I just couldn't take it anymore. I was so defeated and frustrated. Later on I learned that what I had gone through was termed "yo yo dieting" and that just about everyone on the planet who tries to lose weight makes the same mistake... usually a lot more than once! God, losing weight can be such a bitch!

I then fell victim to another super popular weight loss blunder...dieting pills! It's embarrassing for me to admit this but I actually thought, "Maybe I can just take a pill and eat anything I want and still lose weight". Needless to say, they don't work at all for anyone interested in achieving real, permanent weight loss. They're a short-term fix at best, and taking them for too long can lead to serious health problems.

Whether it be changing my entire diet overnight by going "cold turkey" or attempting to shed pounds with dieting pills, the plans and strategies I was devising for losing weight were based on instant gratification - I wanted to be thin NOW and thought I could just quickly muscle my way through the process to get the body I wanted ASAP.

Unfortunately most people think the same way I did and are failing miserably everyday asking themselves, "What am I doing wrong?" If only they knew what I know now, and that is...

Taking the short route to weight loss is practically guaranteed to blow up in your face...leaving you right back where you started, if not worse.

Chances are many of you reading this have already realized that or are at least in the process of coming to terms with it.

Bottom line: Trying to make too many changes to one's diet rapidly is bound to fail in the long-term; it's a totally impractical and unrealistic approach toward weight loss. The same goes for trying to all of a sudden take on a full-fledged exercise program, i.e. going from practically no physical activity to working out five times a week.

These "all or nothing" approaches don't work because they rely fully on high levels of motivation which are available for only a limited period of time during the beginning stages of embarking on a new goal. After about two to ten weeks most people are completely burnt out and simply don't have the willpower necessary to keep up with all the high demands they so rapidly put on themselves practically overnight without any psychological or physical preparation.

People hate to accept this because it means the only way they're going to get what they want is if they learn to slow down. It's not a popular concept in our fast-paced, instant gratification world of now, now, now!

Gradual Change is Best

It's now been proven over and over that gradual change is best. It could be as simple as setting a goal to make one small change to your diet or activity level each week. It is also incredibly helpful to have someone who is experienced in designing effective, long-term weight loss strategies guide you through this process.

As you may know from reading my other articles, the person I went to for help was my brother. Lucky for me, he runs a personal training business in New York City which specializes in long-term weight loss. Needless to say, I went to the right person!

Over time he taught me all about the pitfalls nearly everyone falls into when trying to lose weight. Once I knew what not to do, he'd then explain what really works...and these are the insights, strategies, and mind-sets that I now write about and try to share with as many people as I can.

Thanks to him, I finally learned to take any change in my diet or exercise routine SLOW and to only change one small thing at a time, giving my my body the times it needs to adjust to the new change before I go on to making more changes.

Short-Term Planing Leads to Long-Term Failure

The key lesson is that the changes you make should not be in the form of some crash diet or exercise boot camp, but rather they should be designed first and foremost as lifestyle changes that will stay with you your entire life.

So, if the diet or exercise changes you plan on making are not something you can realistically see yourself maintaining in the long run, then that plan is only a short-term fix which will eventually result in long-term failure.

To conclude, please don't get caught in the "impossible utopia" trap represented in the aforementioned image above, and please remember that any plan which is "dipped in ugly sauce with haste and carelessness" is bound to fail.

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Matt Derosa
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NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist
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