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Best Way to Lose Weight: Bet on It

Best Way to Lose Weight: Bet on It

Want to succeed at losing weight? Make like you're in Vegas and bet money on it.

Yep, bet on yourself. You're more likely to hit your goals if cash is on the line. There's been evidence of this before, and now there's more. First, dieters offered a cash incentive lost 13 to 14 pounds over 16 weeks; dieters who got zilch lost only 3 pounds. Then, a group of losers who bet on themselves to win dropped 8.7 pounds; those who didn't bet lost only 1.2 pounds.

Want betting to stay in Vegas? No problem! Pick a reward you like better than cash (not food!). Indulge yourself in whatever it is . . . maybe a day of doing absolutely no housework, or a spree at iTunes downloading great new Glee tracks. Then, reinforce your rewards with these other big-loser tips:

  • Get real. Don't make crazy bets. Aim to shed 1 to 2 pounds a week, or 5% to 10% of your total weight. Both are doable and pay big health benefits. (Did you know that sleep can help you lose weight?)
  • Be specific. "Eat better" is too vague. Try, "Eat three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day this week, then four and three next week."
  • Up your activity. Set clear goals (betcha know what comes next): "Walk 30 minutes every day." Reward yourself with a high-tech pedometer. It makes counting steps and miles fun.
  • Write it down. Keeping a journal to track your food and exercise helps you keep at it.
  • Be patient. Changing behavior takes time. Allow at least 18 days, and maybe 2 months, to make a new habit stick. After that, bet on it. Double win! (Learn 4 more secrets to making any change last.)
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