4 tips for sticking to your diet

Judith S. Beck, PhD, is director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research; associate professor in psychology and psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania; author of The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person. She shared four motivational techniques to keep up your healthy eating habits.

Look at the small picture. Con­centrate on just losing 5 pounds at a time. When you lose the first 5, celebrate, then decide if it's reasonable to lose another 5, and so on. Focusing on a big number can be overwhelming; in bite-size chunks, it will seem more manageable.

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Sack sabotaging thoughts. "It's OK to eat this because I'm celebrating." "I don't have time to work out." Sound familiar? These kind of thoughts can derail your best efforts. When you catch yourself making self-defeating excuses, shoot them down by saying, "If I want to be healthier, thinner, and more energetic, I have to follow my diet-and-exercise plan."

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Ditch that all-or-nothing mentality. Instead of scrapping your program when things get hectic, "Look over your upcoming week and plan how to fit everything in," Beck says. And remember, five minutes of exercise is better than none.

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Plan for curveballs. You'll be stuck at work late one day and won't have time to sear fresh fish and steam veggies. "Keep a stash of healthy convenience food so you can grab a protein bar or heat up a low-calorie frozen dinner for busy times," Beck says.

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