Each and every time December 31 rolls around we all make the same solemn vow: “This year, I’m going to lose weight.” So we watch what we eat and go to the gym, only to have our new dedication to wellness slowly fall by the wayside, not to return until next…December 31. But you can make 2014 the year that you lose weight and keep it off. All you need to do is add these six crucial components to your weight-loss strategy.

A Positive Attitude
Maintaining a positive attitude is one of the keys to achieving just about any task. However, it can also be one of the toughest. When you’ve worked out all week and eaten well, you expect the scale to move in the right direction. But when it doesn’t, you’ll need that positive attitude to keep you going. “The only way to succeed throughout this journey is to keep a positive state of mind,” says Chris Campbell, owner of Next Level Fit Training in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. “There will be days when you’re sore and tired and want to skip your training session…and that’s when your positive mindset must take over.” Succumbing to negativity and an I-just-can’t-do-it attitude virtually guarantees failure.

A Support Team
Think about the typical Oscar acceptance speech, which always involves the winners thanking everyone they’ve ever met for their success. Very few people achieve their dreams all on their own. And the road to weight loss is no different. “The road to success while following a weight-loss plan is long and bumpy,” continues Campbell. “It is extremely difficult to travel this path alone.”

He recommends having people in your corner to give you guidance as well as support while you work to achieve better health, namely, a trainer and a workout buddy. Trainers can offer expertise and guidance to help you reach your goals, while diet and exercise buddies can offer you good, old-fashioned strength in numbers. “One of the main reasons individuals train in groups is for the extra support,” continues Campbell. “They all encourage each other to finish each exercise down to the last rep.”

A Plan1390235727-weightloss
No matter how you choose to get healthy (no-carbs, clean eating, joining a weight-loss group, etc.) you’ve got to have a plan and stick to it. “Understanding what, when, and how much to eat, as well as specifically what exercise plan to follow will ultimately determine success or failure,” says Scott Herkes, certified fitness nutrition specialist and franchisee of two Max Muscle Sports Nutrition stores. One of the best means of self-sabotage is setting a goal with no clear path to success.

We all know how this works. The weight falls off the first few weeks, then you hit a plateau and the scale barely budges. This often leads to frustration, which can lead to binge eating and skipping the gym. Then you eventually end up right back where you started: overweight and out of shape. “Keeping in mind that ‘fast’ weight loss usually doesn’t stay off, patience is something that will pay big dividends,” continues Herkes. “Losing a pound or two per week is perfect and…for the best chance of success [think of this] as a lifestyle adjustment, not a fastest-loser contest.”

An Open Mind
A commitment to losing weight is a commitment to embracing change. You’ll be swapping out a sedentary life of processed foods for a new world of delicious whole foods and sweat-inducing workouts. And the best way to ensure that these changes stick is to keep an open mind. Take on the challenge of new workouts, like spinning, yoga, kettlebell and boot camps, and experiment with new foods and healthier remakes of some of your favorite recipes.

You may even have to resort to a little bit of word play and trickery to keep your mind open to new experiences. “The first step to being more open to healthy foods is to stop calling them ‘healthy,’” says Kate Davis, RD, owner of RDKate Sports Nutrition. “‘Healthy’ is another dieter’s term that holds negative connotations for many.” Instead, think of these foods as ‘fun,’ ‘energizing’ or ‘life-prolonging.’” She recommends trying one new “energizing” food per week to add to your culinary repertoire and keep your meal plans fresh and exciting.

Accident Forgiveness
Accidents happen…and so do cupcakes, French fries, happy hour cocktails and skipping the gym. The goal is not to completely avoid occasional slip-ups, but to avoid berating yourself when they do happen. Feelings of guilt can quickly evolve into a complete shutdown of your healthy lifestyle changes. “I have never had a client who didn’t ‘fall off the wagon,’ so to speak,” says Alana Cabrero, RD, nutrition program coordinator at The New York Health & Racquet Club in New York City. “My advice is to savor the treat and then hit the rest button. Don’t let one slice of pizza lead to a bucket of wings. You can always fix it at the next meal.” By forgiving yourself for your occasional indiscretions and moving on with your healthy living plan, you can vastly increase your chances for permanent success. MS&F

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