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Top 8 Ways to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Sanity With It

With weight-loss such a common goal around the world's industrialized nations, it's a wonder that so many people set out on the journey so hopelessly unprepared for what lies ahead.  Time and again people commit to unrealistic, exploitative fitness programs that promise them results in an ungodly period of time.  Unfortunately, as syndicated fitness journalist James Fell frequently reminds us, these programs are not supported by accurate mathematics and are generally unhealthy.  

The reason we're so inclined to buy into these schemes is that they're easy, and losing weight is certainly not easy.  The older you are, the longer unhealthy habits have been ingrained in you, and therefore the harder it will be to break them.  I was lucky, realizing my need to adopt a healthier lifestyle at sixteen, and still the process was seemingly unbearable at times and required all of my willpower and concentration.  

With the tips below, you can make your weight-loss journey more realistic, healthy, and more bearable.

Eight Ways to Maintain Your Sanity during Weight-loss

1.  Keep Eating Junk Food (for now)

Look at it.  Now walk away.
If you're only just beginning, many of your meals up to this point have probably consisted of easy- and demolish your motivation.  Before you know it, you'll be back to your old, deadly eating habits.  In fact, you'll probably splurge and eat more than you did before beginning your journey.
made, fatty, fried foods.  It is important for these foods to be eliminated outright overtime, or enjoyed on rare occasion, but it is unrealistic to break away from the habits right away.  It may seem easy to give those artery-clogging delicacies up for a short period of time, but old habits quickly set in

Therefore, as I did, start simply by reducing portion sizes.  I didn't begin losing weight by eating healthy foods, but by eating smaller portions of the unhealthy crap I was accustomed to.  Rather than eating right out of the box, pour some of your favorite salty food into a container.  Although there is nothing stopping you from filling it up until the box is empty, the process of repeatedly returning to the cabinet will foster greater accountability, increasing the likelihood that you'll overcome your desire to overeat.  

Of course, as you begin to reduce the amount of unhealthy food you consume, you should also begin looking at healthier alternatives to ensure you're eating enough, and setting yourself on a path for an entirely healthy diet.

2.  Plan Ahead

Planning ahead allows you to make healthy decisions for
your future self.
The decision to begin losing weight is oftentimes an abrupt, inspired decision.  When I first decided to begin losing weight, the decision was inspired by the horrible look of my belly in the mirror.  Looking at it, ashamed of the weight I had put on, I became angry and vowed to eliminate that "baby-fat".  A couple of hours later, I was kicked back on the couch eating potato chips.  The problem is that this initial inspiration never lasts, no matter how fervent.  That's where the need for an effective, forward-thinking plan comes in.  Otherwise, any progress you made will probably be lost in a couple of days.

The next time you become inspired to lose weight, go about matters a little differently.  Angrily throwing away all of your junk food or spontaneously deciding to go on a run is by no means discouraged, as the action is ultimately the most important aspect of weight-loss, but take a moment to write down your goals and how you're going to achieve them.  Be specific.  "I'm going to start eating healthier and exercising" is far from sufficient.

What kind of workout are you going to commit to?

How many times a week will you train?

What healthy foods do you plan to eat?

Which unhealthy foods will you still allow yourself to enjoy, if any?

How quickly do you expect results?  Is this realistic?

The questions go on and on, and you need to have them answered before you can effectively lose weight.  Otherwise you will find yourself lost and confused, possibly eating unhealthily merely because you have no concept of what to eat instead, not working out because you have no confidence in your abruptly put together workout regime that is likely ineffective or unrealistic.  

Do yourself a favor: Before you try to change your life, figure out how you intend to do it.  Skipping this step only ensures the process will be more difficult and prone to failure.

3.  Gradually Introduce Exercise

Committing to exercise is very easy to do on paper.  Over a dozen times I have written down supposedly foolproof exercise regimes designed to get me the six-pack abs we all aspire to, and most of those times, I ended up scrapping the workout after day one.  This doesn't mean the workouts were bad (although many probably were), but rather that I was not ready to commit to them.  For starters, introducing a full, expansive workout regime early on in your training is not a good idea -- especially if you've never done most of the exercises you've put on the list.  You'll walk into the gym, head held high, but the reminder that you've never done this before will quickly set in.  A starter myself, I know it's difficult to commit to a regime when you admit that you don't entirely know what you're doing.  When it comes to having a workout regime, make sure you know what each exercise is for, how to do it, and have an idea of how many repetitions and sets you should be doing for optimal results.  Try, adjust.  Try, adjust.

Similarly to rule one, your likelihood of sticking to frequent exercising only decreases if you go all out early on.  To clarify: If you haven't run in the past several years, don't run outside on a hot summer day and attempt to run eight miles.  Not only will you experience great pain, but you will begin to associate exercise with pain and frustration.  Although some athletes utilize these feelings for their benefit, it is a horrible idea if you're only just starting out.  Do what you can, and gradually (and also consistently) increase the intensity.

As a general rule, try to introduce a combination of cardio and resistance training.  The cardio will shrink your waistline much faster than weight-training and improve your cardiovascular health, whereas the resistance training will keep your muscles strong and prevent them from diminishing along with your excess fat.

4.  Create a Support System

When you're accountable to someone other than yourself, you're more likely to succeed.  Period.  Be it working out with a friend that has similar goals, training with someone in better shape than you to motivate and drive you further, or making bets and deals that render failure unacceptable, involving others in your workout and accountability system is generally beneficial.

But this goes beyond simply getting motivated to work out.  Many starters complain that their loved ones simply aren't supporting their goals.  While they might voice support vocally, they continue cooking unhealthy meals and engaging in an unhealthy lifestyle that is difficult to circumvent.  This is a problem, and something that should be discussed before you begin your weight-loss journey.  If those around you are not on board or cannot shift to a healthier lifestyle themselves, make it clear that you will be doing whatever it takes to make the transition.  This might cause a riff or two in some households, but ultimately anyone who genuinely cares for you will support a healthy desire to lose excess fat and increase physical fitness.

And remember: Never blame others for your failures.  In fitness, the only person you have to blame is yourself.  Keep at it.

5.  Determine Your Weaknesses

For me, it's chocolate and ice cream.  I can go an entire day eating entirely healthful foods and feeling great about my progress, but as the sun sets it's as though some wild, chocolate-craving beast has been unleashed within me.  The first step to beating your weaknesses, whatever they may be, is to identify them and find triggers.

If your weaknesses pertain to overeating, start stocking up on healthier food and limit your potential to indulge in junk food.  Only in desperation will you leave your house for the sole purpose of getting something unhealthy to ingest.  For meal outings, be sure to look up a menu ahead of time and make a healthy selection.  While you're not locked into that decision when you've arrived at the dinner table, you'll have greater accountability if you opt for that extra side.

So far as workouts are concerned, the best way to ensure you continue working out is to continuously simplify your workout.  I hate going to the gym.  Machines are always taken and everyone seems to be reeking of over-confidence.  Therefore, my goal has been increasingly to find ways to stay fit outside of the gym.  Free-weight exercises and running are my solutions.

Beating your weaknesses is never easy.  There will be times when it seems impossible to overcome your cravings or continue working out.  This is when it will be entirely up to you to stay strong and conscious of your decisions.  It isn't easy, but it does get easier.

6.  Be Honest With Yourself

You're not going to run eight miles on day one.You're not going to eliminate all of your belly fat before your vacation in two weeks.

If you set out with unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself, you're asking for failure.  The irony is that those who attempt to do things unrealistically fast are the ones who end up never getting fit or succeeding only considerably after those who took things slower or more conscientiously have already done so.  You should always push yourself to exceed expectations, but make sure your goals coincide with logic (you're not going to lose five pounds per week, nor should you want to) and are sustainable.

7.  Frequently Reflect on Your Goals

It's easy to lose sight of your goals after you've committed to a healthier eating plan and exercise regime.  This is dangerous, because it is usually those goals that keep you on track and motivated.  When you start out, take a picture of yourself as a reminder of where you started and the progress that you've made.  Keep a journal of the foods you've been eating and exercises you've been trying, and take at least one moment each week to reflect on why you're doing what you're doing.

Whether you're trying to look like Bradley Cooper or attempting to avert a cardiovascular catastrophe, remembering why you set out on your journey in the first place will keep you moving forward.

8.  Have fun!

You realize that healthy eating and exercise are important throughout the entirety of your life.  When you're only just beginning, all of the changes you'll be committing to seem horrible in application.  Nothing tastes quite as great, and it seems as though you're torturing yourself several times per week when you go out the door to run.
you want to undergo a horrible reversion, you shouldn't be planning on working out intensely for a few months to get into wonderful shape and then reverting back to old, unhealthy habits.  The goal is to create a

Know that very few people who get into excellent shape even consider going back.  Once you've sufficiently broken away from bad habits and have replaced them with healthier ones, you'll look back at your former self and wonder how you could have ever lived that way.

Keep at it, and don't give in.  Enjoy.