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Behavior Changes Needed to Lose Weight
Successful Weight Loss Habits and Goals
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About Necessary Lifestyle Change to Lose Weight

Behavior Changes Helpful for Weight Loss
Guide to Behavior Change

Weight is an important health issue. Being overweight is a risk factor for health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, arthritis, gall bladder disease, gynecologic problems, some cancers, and even lung problems.

Here are some suggestions for behavior changes to help you lose weight.

Setting The Right Behavior Goals

Setting the right goals is an important first step. Most people trying to lose weight focus on just that one goal: weight loss. However, the most productive areas to focus on are the diet and exercise changes that will lead to that long-term weight change. Successful weight losers are those who select two or three effective goals at a time.

Effective behavior goals are 1) specific; 2) attainable; and 3) forgiving (less than perfect).

"Exercise more" is a commendable ideal, but it's not specific.

"Walk five miles everyday" is specific and measurable, but is it attainable if you 're just starting out?"

Walk 30 minutes every day" is more attainable, but what happens if you're held up at work one day?

"Walk 30 minutes, five days each week" is specific, attainable, and forgiving. In short, a great goal!

Weight Loss Behavior Changes - Shaping Technique

Shaping is a behavioral technique in which you select a series of short-term goals that get closer and closer to the ultimate goal (e. g., an initial reduction of fat intake from 40 percent of calories to 35 percent of calories, and later to 30 percent). It is based on the concept that "nothing succeeds like success."

Shaping uses two important behavioral principles: 1) consecutive goals that move you ahead in small steps are the best way to reach a distant point; and 2) consecutive rewards keep the overall effort invigorated.

Give Yourself Effective Rewards for Behavior Changes

An effective reward is something that is desirable, timely, and contingent on meeting your goal. The rewards you administer may be tangible (eg. a movie or music CD or a payment toward buying a more costly item) or intangible (eg. an afternoon off work or just an hour of quiet time away from family). Numerous small rewards, delivered for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than bigger rewards, requiring a long, difficult effort.

The Importance of Self-Monitoring

Self-monitoring refers to observing and recording some aspect of your behavior, such as calorie intake, servings of fruits and vegetables, exercise sessions, medication usage, etc., or an outcome of these behaviors, such as weight. Self-monitoring of a behavior can be used at times when you're not sure how you're doing, and at times when you want the behavior to improve. Self-monitoring of a behavior usually changes the behavior in the desired direction and can produce " real-time" records for review by you and your health care provider.

For example, keeping a record of your exercise can let you and your provider know quickly how you're doing, and when the record shows that your exercise is increasing, you'll be encouraged to keep it up.

Weight Loss Graphs

While you may or may not wish to weigh yourself frequently while losing weight, regular monitoring of your weight will be essential to help you maintain your lower weight. When keeping a record of your weight, a graph may be more inspirational than a simple list of weight measurements.

When weighing yourself and keeping a weight graph or table, however, remember that one day's diet and exercise patterns won't have a measurable effect on your fat weight the next day. Today's weight is not a true measure of how well you followed your program yesterday, because your body's water weight will change much more from day to day than will your fat weight, and water changes are often the result of things that have nothing to do with your weight-management efforts.

Changing Your Eating Behavior

Changing the way you go about eating can make it easier to eat less without feeling deprived. It takes 15 or more minutes for your brain to get the message you've been fed. Slowing the rate of eating can allow satiety (fullness) signals to begin to develop by the end of the meal. Eating lots of vegetables can also make you feel fuller. Another trick is to use smaller plates so that moderate portions do not appear meager. Changing your eating schedule, or setting one, can be helpful, especially if you tend to skip, or delay, meals and overeat later.

Source: NIH National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute.


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