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Diets don’t work

I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, especially of the most popular New Year’s resolution of all: losing weight. Most of us make that resolution out of remorse for all the fattening food and drink we indulged in during the holiday season.

I have used several commercial diet programs in the past, and have been very successful on them. The problem is that once I’ve stopped the diet, the weight has come back. I used to blame myself, that I don’t have enough willpower or haven’t followed the diet diligently enough. But then, most people gain back their weight after successfully completing a diet. Why is this so?

The problem is that we focus on the least useful measure of our health, our weight. For starters, weight can fluctuate from hour to hour. So, how can you realistically tell whether you’ve made progress on your diet plan when you weight 162 in the morning and 164 the night before?

Also, weight doesn’t tell you how healthy you really are. Who is healthier: A 320-pound NFL lineman who eats specially designed meals, exercises 8–10 hours a day, and has only 10% body fat? Or a 98-pound teenager who has been on an 800-calorie starvation diet but doesn’t exercise? Actually, the teenager may still be obese because people burn lean muscle tissue before they burn fat.

So, I do plan to work on my health, but I’m focusing on my behaviors rather than my weight. Am I eating what I should? Do I avoid fattening snacks? Am I getting enough exercise? And I plan to measure my results based on how I physically feel. Do I keep up my energy during the day? How are the cholesterol levels in my blood test?

When you set a goal, you should choose your own measurements of success. This is what I plan to do about my health.

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