Diet Detective: Embrace Healthy Habits to Drop Weight

When you start a diet, the primary challenge is to lose weight, but there's another challenge you might face: worrying about what others will think. Will your friends laugh if you order the egg-white sandwich at Dunkin' Donuts? Don't be embarrassed about your new behaviors. In fact, embrace them. Here are a few tips for avoiding diet embarrassment.

Focus on Healthy Behaviors

Here's a thought: What if instead of focusing on lofty weight-loss goals, you focused on simply increasing your healthy behaviors? The concept of healthy behaviors will help you to avoid reaching for the unreachable. Don't worry about your BMI, your fitness quotient or any such thing. Just focus on healthy eating and exercise goals. That way when you have the occasional chip or piece of cake you won't feel shame or guilt—your overall behaviors will be solid, so it shouldn't matter.

More: Weight-Loss Tips for Healthy Eaters

At the Gym

First time at the gym? Muscle-bound men and yoga instructors with perfect figures can be intimidating. Here are a few things you can do before you join the gym. Try it out first. Many fitness centers give you a trial period, so take advantage. Just make sure you read the fine print before you sign anything. During your trial, pay attention to the details.

More: 10 Ways to Have Fun at the Gym

The Members Matter: Check out who belongs. You don't want to join a gym overrun with bodybuilders if that would intimidate (or distract) you. It also helps to have fellow members you would want as friends. Research has shown that socialization increases happiness, which can result in developing positive habits. If you're getting a workout and having a good time with friends, that's a win-win.

The Staff: Does the club promote its staff? Do they have a "wall of fame" listing the training of the people who work there?

A Personal Trainer Can Help: If you can afford it, you might consider hiring a personal trainer to help you get started and feel comfortable. Trainers should be certified with one of the following: the National Academy of Sports Medicine (www.nasm.org), the American College of Sports Medicine (www.acsm.org) or the American Council on Exercise ( www.acefitness.org). Fitness specialists should also have an educational background in exercise science, kinesiology, cardiac rehab, biomechanics or adult physical education.

More: 6 Benefits of Having a Personal Trainer

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