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4 Tips for Lasting Change

4 Tips for Lasting Change

We all know that making a physical change in your life often starts with a change of mindset as much as a change in behavior. Research shows that this is the best four-step process for making change:

  1. Be positive - If being overweight has permanently made your mood fouler than a subway station in August, then your first job is to refocus. Think about what you can do, how you can do it, why it's good for you and how you'll succeed. By stripping away the negative emotions of guilt and shame, you'll make the right (and long-term) decisions about your eating obstacles.
  2. Add some support - Find one or two people who know your goals, weaknesses and strengths. They will be your sounding board, your comfort system and your measure of accountability. By making yourself accountable to someone—that is, reporting in on daily struggles and successes—you're more likely to make a permanent change.
  3. Make a gesture - Small gestures (ones not involving individual fingers flung at passing motorists) can help kick-start the psychology of change. Just one small change will help determine your long-term success, whether it's buying a pedometer or new walking shoes or just setting up a tracker to record your waist loss. If you make one small move like this, research shows you'll be three times more likely to follow through with your plan; it's your way of putting the key in your waist-management ignition.
  4. Do it - Once you've made one small gesture, you're on your way. Eat a full day's worth of perfect-for-you food. Walk 30 minutes. Pat yourself on the back. Tomorrow, do it again. Start fresh every day, and enjoy each success. Then, make a second commitment: Double (or triple) your daily vegetable intake. With one foot, take one specific first step. The other foot has no choice but to follow.

Medically reviewed in March 2019.

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