(Article first published as Lose Weight and Keep It Off Permanently on Technorati.)
Over the past half century, Americans have experienced a metabolic pandemic, leading to a nearly 40% obesity rate among adults and risk of a shortened lifespan due to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Researchers believe that the current generation of children and young adults will the first to live shorter lives than their parents, should current levels of obesity and dietary negligence continue.
Many people become desperate to lose weight and try one of the fad diets, pills or starvation. While each may deliver short term results, none will deliver healthy or permanent weight loss. True weight loss is only achieved through a combination of calorie restriction and regular, moderate exercise. In order to keep the weight off permanently, you must develop a new way of thinking to go along with your new body.
Set Attainable Goals
When setting out to begin a weight loss program, set a goal which is realistically within your reach. Many people will target a weight which is 10% lower than is attainable given their age and physical condition. Set the target too low, and you set yourself up for failure. Studies show that the important health benefits from losing weight are realized by losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds. It's not a race, and only you will be the winner when you stabilize at a weight you can maintain.
Get Support from Family Members or Friends
Losing weight is just as much about diet and exercise as it is about emotions. Find a partner with the same mission, and walk together or participate in an exercise class. While it's your responsibility to take control of your weight loss program, the support and encouragement you receive from friends and family is invaluable as you are losing weight, and essential to keeping it off for life.
Commit to It
While starting a weight loss program is essential, you need to become committed to making the necessary changes to maintain your weight once you hit your goal. Yo-yo dieting is very common, and always leads to unsustainable weight loss because the necessary underlying commitment has never been established. Continual fluctuations in weight are also detrimental to long term health, leading to increased risk of heart disease and serious metabolic disorders.
Cut the Junk Food
The main reason most diets fail is excessive calories from junk food. Donuts, fried foods, fast foods sugary soda and refined sweets account for up to 75% of total calories for many people. These types of food are devastating, causing wild swings in blood sugar along with cravings to binge on more junk food. Before beginning your weight loss mission, eliminate these foods from your house to avoid temptation. After two weeks, you won't miss them and your scale will reward your effort.
Make a Permanent Lifestyle Change
This is the key to permanent weight loss. Make your new dietary and exercise habits a way of living. Understand that this is not a temporary change just to drop a few pounds, but a totally new lifestyle which will help you (and your family) to live a much longer and happier life. This is your ticket to avoid the years of unhealthy misery many people endure as they age.
Permanent weight loss is a difficult goal for most people. Less than 95% of those who begin a weight loss program keep it off for more than 5 years. Your body's genetically programmed survival mechanism will push you to eat excessively and store additional fat for lean times. You can overcome these signals by making a commitment to yourself and soliciting a network of family and friends. The end result will be a healthy life and permanent weight loss.