# 1 Think Long Haul
Your state of mind plays a huge role in weight loss success. Instead of crash dieting by starving yourself, commit to making long-term diet and exercise changes that you can actually stand to stick to from here on out. The weight loss might be a little slower but that means you’ll have a better chance of keeping it off.
#2 Include, Don’t Exclude
Instead of cutting out major food groups, a move that can lead to nutrient deficiencies, allow yourself to eat all of the foods you enjoy, even if that means splurging sensibly from time to time. Allowing yourself a little freedom will keep you on the right path.
#3 Help Your Metabolism
It sounds clichéd, but eating breakfast and snacking on healthy foods throughout the day helps keep energy levels high and metabolism fired up. Crash dieting and skipping meals will do the exact opposite. A 2008 report from the National Institutes of Health concluded that yo-yo dieters are at a greater risk for repeated weight gain and binge eating. The report also indicated that when yo-yo dieting leads to obesity, folks are at a greater risk for other health problems, including type 2 diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. Although the exact cause is unclear, further findings stated that yo-yo dieters also have more layers of fat around the abdominal region (aka belly fat).
#4 Remember: Mind Over Matter
Repeatedly regaining weight can undermine self-esteem, and studies have shown that many yo-yo dieters often deal with feelings of depression. If you’ve gained some of the pounds back, don’t let that deter you from trying again. The benefits of weight loss are still within your reach.
#5 Get Pumped!
Keep things fresh in the gym and the kitchen. Make sure you’re getting plenty of exercise and do your best to experiment with new recipes; staying motivated is the key to successful, long-term weight loss.
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Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »