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Some advice to keep that weight loss resolution

"This is the year I'll lose weight" is a familiar New Year's resolution. Although it is more common to hear about weight loss failures, the National Weight Control Registry, http://www.nwcr.ws tracks a group of more than 10,000 people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. Developed in 1994, the registry conducts annual surveys of its members to review the strategies they use to lose weight and keep it off.

To achieve weight loss:

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• People lost weight in different ways; 55 percent used some type of program, and 45 percent developed their own method.

• 94 percent increased their physical activity, with walking being the most frequently reported form of activity.

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To maintain the loss:

• Most continue to follow a low-calorie, low-fat eating pattern, with high levels of physical activity.

• They are involved in self-monitoring; 75 percent of the members weigh themselves at least once a week. It is generally suggested to weigh at the same time of day, in the same amount of clothing, using the same scale.

• 78 percent of the members eat breakfast. This habit provides energy early in the day, discourages overeating and spreads calories over the day.

• 90 percent report being physically active about 1 hour a day.

• 62 percent watch less than 10 hours of television a week.

The Carroll County Health Department has a few pointers for weight loss and maintaining success:

1. Set realistic weight loss goals. Losing just 10 percent of your excess weight can improve the risk of weight-related health problems. Don't expect overnight success; changing habits takes time and effort.

2. Take a close look at your current eating habits and identify where you can make small, gradual changes. A daily food diary can help with this. Do you need to buy healthier foods to substitute for chips, cake, soda and fried foods?

3. Plan your eating as you plan any activity. Think ahead to avoid relying on convenient choices that may be higher in calories.

4. Pay attention to your body's signals. Eat because you are hungry and stop eating when you are satisfied, not uncomfortable or "stuffed."

5. Find ways to fit your favorite foods into your lifestyle. Depriving yourself or feeling guilty when you eat certain foods is not a healthful eating strategy. To keep things in perspective, consider how much and how often you eat these foods.

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6. Learn from your mistakes and stay positive. Don't expect perfection in your efforts to lose weight. Look at lapses as a way to find out what causes problems and develop strategies for the future.

7. Reward yourself for your accomplishments no matter how small they seem.

This year instead of resolving to lose weight, think about making permanent lifestyle changes and adopting new habits that will ultimately result in weight loss. If you want more information on healthy eating, see http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

Darlene Flaherty is a nutritionist with the Carroll County Health Department.

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