Now that you have an appreciation for the problems that can come up as you move closer to your weight-loss goals, let's apply those skills to solving a specific problem that matters most to you. In general, problem-solving involves four steps:

1. Identify the problem.

2. Generate a list of possible solutions.

3. Choose a solution.

4. Implement the plan.

The best way to show how the problem-solving process works is to apply it to a familiar scenario: Let's say that every Sunday, your mother-in-law-we'll call her Zelda-makes a high-calorie brunch for the extended family, and your presence is, to put it mildly, required. You don't want to blow all your daily calories before noon, but if you decline what's being served, Zelda makes it clear that she feels insulted. Here's how you might tackle the problem.

1. Define the problem

* Zelda feels hurt when someone doesn't eat her specialties; you want to please her.

* She doesn't offer any low-calorie options at her brunches.

* Other relatives who enjoy the meal encourage you to join in.

* Brunch is usually right after church, when you're hungry, which makes it harder for you to say no.

2. Generate possible solutions

* You could refuse the invitation to brunch.

* You could discuss your concerns with Zelda and try to work out a compromise-say, offer to bring a low-calorie dish to complement her menu.

* You could eat a light snack before the brunch.

3. Choose a solution

Select what seems to be the best solution; it doesn't have to be the perfect solution. Make as many people happy as you can, but be assertive about what you need too. There's no one "right" way to handle every problem, and what works in one situation might not work in another. For some, having a light snack beforehand to cut hunger might do the trick; others might feel it necessary to discuss the issue with Zelda, to give her a better understanding of the problem.

4. Implement the plan

Take action as soon as you've chosen a solution-and later, assess its effectiveness. If it didn't work as well as you would have liked, don't worry. Many problems require multiple attempts before reaching resolution. Go back to the drawing board and try another strategy.

The EatingWell Diet (2007)