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Be Happy & Healthy--Eat Smart
by Rachel Paxton

Description: Tips for living a healthy lifestyle.

In order to feel good, look good, and be healthy, you have to pay attention to what you eat. Now that doesn't mean depriving yourself of the food you love! Just be conscious of what you eat, how much you eat, and also why you eat and you will be taking a giant step towards looking and feeling great.

Are you happy with the way you look and how much you weigh? Then don't read any further. If you feel you need to make changes in your life, first decide if changing your eating and exercising habits is really going to make you feel better. I know that I've dieted and exercised many times, even reaching my ideal weight and fitness level, to be totally disappointed because I don't feel any different! I soon go back to my old ways, and the cycle begins all over again. Ever since I've started putting my life into perspective and finding the things in life that truly make me happy, I've noticed that my eating habits have changed. Do you ever reach for a snack when you're feeling a little down, or even bored? I know I do! I've tried to replace those kinds of habits with other things that will distract me for awhile, like going out to work in the garden or reading a good book, and I've noticed lately that I haven't been eating so much.

I've tried all kinds of diets, and none of them have ever worked for me. I'd lose a little weight, and then gain back even more. Now I have to be honest with you and tell you that I've never had a serious weight problem, but no one likes it when their clothes start getting too tight and you have to make the decision to either buy a bigger clothing size or lose a little weight. As soon as you start that diet, you are feeling deprived once again. I'm not in the medical profession, and I don't claim to be able to give anyone medical advice, but I do know what works for me. So take my advice with a grain of salt and do what's best for you. I'm sure many people may disagree with my reasoning, but I assure you that this is what has worked for me.

If you want to lose weight you have to reduce the amount of calories you consume. Now that doesn't necessarily mean changing what you eat, just eating less of it (assuming you normally eat a fairly well-balanced diet). It's that simple. The good news is that after you have lost the weight you want to lose, you won't have to restrict the amount of food you eat as much to keep the weight off. When you're losing weight, just reduce your calories until you are losing 1-2 pounds a week. After you lose the unwanted pounds, just gradually add a few calories back until your weight maintains. After you get used to eating the amount of food that allows your body to maintain your ideal weight, just continue eating the same way, and you won't gain the weight back! I promise! If you do start gaining weight again, it's because you've let some kind of food (a comfort food perhaps) sneak back into your life once again. If you see yourself starting to gain again, then just cut back a little. It really does work. You can't gain 20 pounds overnight. If you take the necessary steps as soon as you see your weight creeping back, you won't ever gain that 20 pounds again. If it means that much to you won't let it happen again.

Most diets don't work because they expect you to eat differently than the rest of your family. So what happens when you're off the diet? Of course you're back to eating the way you used to. The key is to modify your current eating habits to help you lose weight and maintain it, while also enjoying the same foods your family eats. Don't deprive yourself. Deprivation is the first step towards sabotaging yourself and your weight loss plan. Try following these general guidelines and don't give up!

- Use low-fat substitutes when possible.
- Drink lots of water (I'm still working on this one!)
- Eat only one large meal a day and at least two smaller ones. I enjoy a large evening meal with my family every day.
- Limit caffeine and Nutrasweet. They can actually stimulate your appetite.
- Limit sugar when possible. It has a lot of calories, makes you hungry, and causes mood swings.
- Cut down on the number of snacks you eat, but make sure to enjoy your favorites, even if fattening, once in awhile (maybe once a week.)
- Exercise every day. Even if it's just walking to the mail box or working in the yard. I have found roller blading with my daughter to be very enjoyable.

Originally published at Suite 101. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com.




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