1. Stick to your diet

    Dr.  Brian AlmanMany of us have tried to lose weight. For some it is that stubborn 10 pounds that keeps coming back, or just won’t budge. Others need to lose 50 pounds or more. The process can be daunting and discouraging. There are many good diets, but they won’t help if you can’t stick to them. Psychologist Brian Alman has helped thousands of people lose weight by showing them how to stay motivated. Let him help you too.

    Five secrets for sticking to your diet, by Dr. Brian Alman:
    When trying to stick to your diet, willpower doesn’t work; you know that already. Why? Because willpower is all in your head, and the root causes of overeating are emotional and personal, all about stress and family relationships. Whether you’re trying to lose that last 10 pounds, those stubborn 30 pounds, or more, one thing is clear: Unless you do something to lighten the emotional weight you’re carrying inside — unless you begin to become aware of your feelings, to accept them, and to express them — you’ll continue to struggle with your diet. You might lose some weight, but soon you’ll give in and gain it all back … and usually more.
    Here are my five favorite quick-tips for breaking this “yo-yo” cycle. They will help you get in touch with your feelings and begin to accept yourself just as you are. This is the secret to staying with your diet: Once you start to be friendlier, caring, and compassionate with yourself, you’ll begin to lose weight effortlessly. And more importantly, you’ll keep it off for good.
    Tip 1: Breathe through your cravings
    Whenever you feel the urge to eat, don’t try to stop the craving — that will only make it stronger. Instead, take a few deep, satisfying breaths. Watch the rise and fall of your breathing. Accept your breathing as it is; there’s nothing to do right, there’s nothing you can do wrong. Now focus on the cycle — inhale and exhale — and pause for a moment at the turning points, at the top and bottom of each breath. Inhale deeply, pause, exhale deeply, and pause. Inhale deeply, pause, then push the exhale, throw out all the air. Let go … let go … let go…. Drink a refreshing glass of water and feel more alive.
    Tip 2: Three times is the charm
    When any weight-loss challenge comes up for you — an urge, a craving, anger, guilt, anything that stresses you — just be aware of it, just notice that it’s there inside of you, and name it slowly three times. For example, if it’s a craving, just notice it and say to yourself, “craving … craving … craving.” Or go ahead and say what it is you’re craving: “chocolate … chocolate … chocolate.” Or let’s say you’re angry at something or somebody, maybe at yourself for being fat, or at others for being thin — just recognize what you’re feeling and say, “anger … anger … anger.” Say it out loud softly, or say it to yourself. But say it slowly three times. Don’t miss a single opportunity. Whenever you feel weighed down by any thought or feeling, say it slowly three times, and watch what happens.
    Tip 3: “Watch” what you eat
    The next time you sit down to a meal imagine a camera just to your side filming you as you eat. Watch yourself through the eye of that camera. Notice your mood, your attitude, how tense or relaxed you are. Observe your breathing, shallow or deep, nose or chest. Watch how you hold your knife and fork. Zoom in and look at the food closely. What shape is it? How many shades of color does it have? Watch the food as it goes into your mouth. How do you chew? Turn up the sound: what can you hear? Crackling, swishing, crunching? Do you notice the flavors? The smells? What texture does the food have? Grainy, spongy, crisp? How hot or cold is it? What aftertaste does it leave? Watch the food as it goes into your stomach. Is your stomach happy to receive it? When you eat this way, with total presence and awareness, your overeating will change by itself.
    Tip 4: Go with the Flow
    Ocean lifeguards teach swimmers that, when they realize they’re caught in a strong rip current, they should not fight to get out of it. It never works and only exhausts them and makes things worse. Instead, they should let themselves go with the current, ride with it — even swim along with it. Soon they will come out of it without any trouble. The same goes for any challenges you may have staying on your diet. Instead of fighting your inner emotional current and drowning in your feelings, you can choose to “go with the flow.” If you feel hungry, or angry, or weak, or like bingeing, don’t try to fight your feeling and make it go away. Simply go with your feeling, let yourself feel it fully and wholeheartedly, even exaggerate it. You’ll find that you quickly come out of it. In a few minutes, your feeling will simply be gone. You’re soon going on about your day wondering what all the fuss was about.
    Tip 5: Say Your Name
    When you’re feeling caught up in your struggles with food and dieting, when you feel “beside” yourself with a craving, or self-hatred, or guilt, sadness, anger — whatever it is — just pause for a moment and focus on your breathing. Even if your breathing is tight, shallow, and stressful, just observe your inhale and exhale … inhale … and then exhale. Then, after a few breaths, on an exhale, say your name to yourself, but not out loud, just say your own name. First name, last name, full name or a favorite name you use when you talk to yourself. Just inhale, pause, and on the exhale say your name to yourself, and continue doing this for 10 to 15 breaths). Make it a kind of silent mantra of unconditional acceptance of your self and your weight-loss challenge. Give this technique some time and energy, and you’ll be amazed to find yourself feeling more relaxed and accepting of yourself, and of what you’re going through with your diet.
    These five techniques are only a small part of my Lose Weight and Keep It Off program, which has helped thousands of people at Kaiser Permanente meet their weight-loss goals, and which has been recommended as “very effective” by Deepak Chopra. Longer versions of these tips, along with many more of my weight-loss techniques, are ready to be accessed at the iPhone app store. In addition, my new book, The Voice: Overcome Negative Self-Talk and Discover Your Inner Wisdom, includes these tips as part of a larger personal growth program for anyone dealing with an emotional challenge.
    More from Dr. Brian Alman www.TruSageInternational.com