Reach and Maintain Your Healthy Weight—for Life!

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight—and who hasn’t?—you’ve probably tried every fad diet and weight loss gimmick there is. It’s the same old story every time. As soon as you quit the program, the pounds come right back on . . . and then some, leaving you frustrated, depressed and feeling like a failure.

Are you ready to try an approach proven effective over the long term?

As the world’s leading membership organization for health and fitness professionals, IDEA has spent more than 15 years reviewing weight loss information, research and programs. And we’ve used our expertise to develop a common-sense weight management approach that really works!

It’s Time To Get Real

The following principles are adapted from GET REAL: A Personal Guide To Real-Life Weight Management. This groundbreaking book was written by Daniel Kosich, PhD, one of the world’s foremost authorities on fitness and health. GET REAL outlines the three most important elements of successful weight control: regular activity, proper eating and (perhaps most important) a positive attitude, including high self-esteem, self-empowerment and a healthy body image.

What makes his approach so unique—and so successful for those who use it—is that GET REAL is not a “diet” or “program” designed to be followed for a short period of time. Instead, the book’s lessons provide a sensible, livable blueprint for lifelong change and long-term success.

Dr. Kosich invites you to ask yourself where you want to be in 10 years. “It’s not what you do for the next 10 days, or 10 weeks, or even 10 months, that determines where you’ll be in 10 years,” he says. “It’s what you do for the next 10 years that counts.” To get started, Dr. Kosich recommends that you follow the eight keys listed below to adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Eight Keys To A Healthy Weight

Key #1: Don’t Rely on Magic

As much as we might want it to be true, there’s simply no magic way to achieve a healthy body weight. Many of the “magic” pills, potions and powders can lead to significant weight loss for a short period. But the vast majority of people who lose weight using these approaches regain the pounds within a couple of years.

No short-term program can help you maintain a healthy weight. It’s not what you do for the next six weeks or six months that counts. It’s what you do for the rest of your life—including regular activity, healthy eating and maintaining a positive attitude and self-image—that determines your ability to stay at a healthy weight.

Key #2: Forget the “One-Size-Fits-All” Mentality
Many of us think we need to look like the superfit models, actresses and athletes we see on TV or in the movies. And advertising messages reinforce the impression that thinness equals happiness. The truth is, we’re all very different. Body weight and shape are influenced by factors we can’t control, including genetics. Your genes determine the number of fat cells in your body as well as your metabolism.

This doesn’t mean you’re destined to be heavy, or that you can’t lose weight if you need to. It does mean your progress in a sensible weight management program will be unique. It also means that your ultimate healthy weight may be different than you think.

Key #3: Develop a Positive Self-Image
Weight management is often promoted as a process of learning to change the things you dislike about yourself. This attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy—it makes you focus on disliking yourself. Effective weight management is just a natural extension of your desire to take responsibility for your health and take good care of yourself. Don’t get in the rut of “If . . . , then . . . ” thinking—”If only I lost 30 pounds, then I would be happy with myself.” Instead, practice acting “as if.” Acting “as if” you are a person with the ability to nurture and care for yourself may well be the first step to becoming that person.

Key #4: Set Realistic Weight Goals
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important for good health. But a healthy weight isn’t necessarily the one that’s suggested by a height/weight chart! There are many techniques for estimating a healthy weight. One of the easiest is to shoot for the lowest weight you’ve been able to maintain for at least one full year since age 21, when you were active and eating a prudent diet. Who knows—you might be at your healthy weight right now!

Ultimately, you should focus on taking care of yourself today, not achieving some future weight goal. There’s no rush, since maximum effective weight loss is about a pound a week.

Key #5: Learn to Play Again
Regular activity is one of the few proven predictors of successful weight maintenance and significantly reduces a number of health risks, ranging from cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure to breast cancer. Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten what children already know—that activity is fun! We’ve also forgotten that exercise is an act of caring and self-respect, not work or punishment. These are great reasons to rediscover the joys of play!

But if you think of exercise as drudgery, it won’t become part of your healthy lifestyle. Find activities you enjoy and you’re more likely to stick with them. Be sure to follow the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations of 30 minutes or more of aerobic exercise on most days of the week.

Aerobic exercise is the type that sends a lot of oxygen to your heart and muscles. Walking, swimming, bicycling, and group exercise classes (step and high/low impact aerobics) are all great examples of aerobic exercise.

Key #6: Get Stronger
“Lift weights? Me? Never!” If this was your initial reaction, think again. Resistance training, whether with weights, machines, elastic bands or tubing, even in water, does more than aid in weight control. It also helps maintain good posture and reduce the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis. Strength training just twice a week will bring you a long list of benefits. Plus, stronger muscles burn more calories even when you’re at rest.

It’s important to practice good technique with each strength training exercise, though, so consider working with a qualified fitness professional, such as an IDEA Member group fitness instructor or personal trainer member, at least a few times before you try it on your own.

Key #7: Harness the Power of the Pyramid
Some weight control programs focus on what you eat instead of emphasizing exercise and active living. The problem with this approach is, people have a tendency to look at eating with a rigid, always/never perspective. And that doesn’t work for very long for most people. How many of us can eat nothing but cabbage soup or grapefruit for an entire week!

Instead, try the 80/20 approach. Eat what you know you should 80% of the time, and leave 20% for acknowledging and accepting that you’re not perfect! That way, you won’t set yourself up for feeling guilty or testing your willpower against cravings for foods you know you don’t need much of. Follow the U.S. Food Guide Pyramid recommendations to nourish your body in a healthy way, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and water.

Key #8: Be Patient and Persistent
Plan and choose attitudes that demonstrate self-acceptance and self-care. It takes practice. Most experts recommend that you keep a simple log or record of your new healthy self-care habits. Just take a few minutes each day to note what activities you did, a general description of the foods you ate, and the of positive things you did to take care of yourself.

Most importantly, don’t be in a hurry. Most health professionals will tell you it takes at least six months for a new habit to become part of your lifestyle. Keeping records helps you stick to your healthier habits until they become second nature. And take it in small steps. That’s how most things happen . . . in real life.

For the full story on common-sense weight management strategies that work for life, read GET REAL: A Personal Guide to Real-Life Weight Management, by Daniel Kosich, PhD. To order your copy, call IDEA toll-free or send $15.95 plus $6.00 for shipping and handling to:

GET REAL

c/o IDEA
10455 Pacific Center Court San Diego, CA 92121-4339