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Getting Thin And Staying Thin Is Not An Impossible Dream

By Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., R.D.

Breaking old habits and learning new ones.

NEW! Excerpted from The EatingWell Diet book.

Let me guess—you’ve tried them all: the grapefruit diet, the grapefruit juice diet, the grapefruit pill diet. Or perhaps it’s been the 400-calorie diet, the eat-all-you-want-as-long-as-it’s (protein, rice, bread, steak, name-your-food-any-food) diet. It could have been one of the many no-diet diets. Maybe you’ve eaten low-fat or high-fat, high-carb or low-carb, high-fiber or even low-fiber. It’s possible you’ve tried to eat like Miami socialites, Japanese fishermen, svelte French women, or even Neanderthal hunters. It could be that you’ve done the exercise clubs, the video workout routines, or the plastic-wrap spot-reducing plans.

They might even have worked… until they didn’t.

Even as myriad new weight-loss schemes appear, most of us already know the verdict: diets don’t work. In the vast majority of cases, people drop out of the diet within weeks and regain the weight. A significant percentage rebound from a diet to gain even more weight than they started with. You are probably suspicious of the word “diet,” and I don’t blame you.

That’s why we’re going to give you a plan—much more than a weight-loss diet—where the odds of success, once you start, are truly in your favor.

A weight-loss diet, by definition, is temporary—something you’re meant to go on, then off. You’re told what to eat and when to eat it—often based on some complicated scientific rationale that involves, say, hormone fluctuations, metabolic manipulations or maybe the phases of the moon. In truth, there are many approaches to eating and just as many exercise plans that can help you lose weight. There is no one correct way to go about it, although there are plenty of wrong methods. You can easily find an array of new diets on the supermarket tabloid rack every week—and they all sound so fast and so, so easy. So what can we offer that you haven’t tried already?

In 15 years of weight-loss research and working with thousands of people trying to get trimmer and feel healthier, I have come to find that almost everyone knows the truth: to lose the weight, we need to eat less and move more. This book is about the missing link: how to do it.

How do you start eating better foods, how do you stop skipping breakfast, how do you resist all those fast-food lunches, how you start a walking program and stick with it?

Our focus is on behavior change—permanent behavior change. It’s only through a systematic shaping of everyday common behaviors that you will be able to break old habits and learn new ones. Drinking grapefruit juice until you scream is a behavior change, of course, but not the kind that you will sustain for very long.

Here’s how the behavioral approach we have developed at the University of Vermont differs from traditional diet strategy: Say you get a lot of your calories at night, after dinner in front of the TV. A typical “diet” solution would be to substitute carrot sticks for the chips and ice cream you’d normally snack on. That might work for a time, but it doesn’t break the behavior of eating in front of the TV. We’ll show you how to change the behavior that got you to the weight gain in the first place—not just help you learn to love carrots.

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