Done dieting

I am tired of dieting, but I still want to drop about 30 pounds. I am a little confused about what you mean when you say “lose weight without dieting.” Can you please explain?

— Sharon T., Ventura

Congratulations on wanting to achieve your best body and improve your health without feeling deprived and restricted. I know how tough it can be when it comes to wanting something and not being sure how to achieve it or which approach is best.

As difficult as it may be at first, I want you to set your focus on embracing a lifestyle that forever evolves in the areas of eating healthfully, being more active and thinking positively. The worst thing you could do is take an all-or-nothing approach to weight loss. The all-or-nothing approach works when everything is going well, but, after a while, you are likely to grow bored, feel deprived and, all of a sudden, you are back to the habits that put you in the position that caused you to diet in the first place.

What I’d like to do with this first column of 2006 is share with you what I believe are the three key elements for releasing fat, being healthy and not worrying about the weight coming back. Review the following to help you release fat without feeling like you are on a diet:

Nutrition: Instead of putting yourself on a strict eating regimen, I want you to work with your food preferences. This doesn’t mean replacing them, but choosing foods that nourish your body and don’t taste like cardboard. #Example#: If you are currently drinking 2 percent milk, choose 1 percent because it is a tad healthier. When you are ready to upgrade your nutrition habits again, the next step would be non-fat and, who knows, maybe one day it will be non-GMO soy milk. Continue choosing foods that you know and feel are helpful, not hurtful.

Physical Fitness: Instead of rushing to the gym when you prefer to exercise outdoors, make it a priority to engage in activities you enjoy. There is no one exercise method that fits all. I have had clients release over 100 pounds working out at home, while others walk outdoors or love going to health clubs. Find an activity, no matter the intensity, and get started. If you choose to walk, keep track of your distance and time and, every 30 days, do what you can to break your “personal best” record. Changing the duration and/or intensity of your preferred activity is how you avoid plateaus and ensure continued progress.

Habits of Thought: Dr. Norman Vincent Peale summed it up when he said, “If you think in negative terms, you will get negative results. If you think in positive terms, you will achieve positive results,” and I totally agree with this. Most people are not successful at weight loss because of their thinking patterns. With nearly 50,000 thoughts entering our minds daily, it is to our benefit to be in control of these thoughts. If you don’t control your thoughts, unfortunately, your thoughts will control you.

I am a big believer that you get more out of this column when I focus on the “dos” instead of the “don’ts;” however, I do want to encourage you to avoid conforming to the norm. Many people who want to lose weight get trapped in conforming (i.e., peer pressure, social influence) to what everyone else is doing, instead of what serves his or her best interest. This is easier said than done. However, when you are feeling great because of your increased activity, healthy eating and positive thinking, you are more apt to do for you what no one but you can do for yourself.

Also, even though it is normal to want results now, you don’t have to wait to begin a diet-free life. Like “wellness,” a diet-free lifestyle is something you can have immediately. Remember, it all begins in the mind. And as I have shared with you many times over the last two years, “Success is first experienced in the mind before it can ever be achieved in reality.”