The Diet Detective: Triggering Weight Loss

Trigger: Diet Pusher

Examples : A spouse, family member or friend pushes you to lose.

How it works : Your spouse, family or friends pester and nudge you to lose weight (and/or stop smoking or drinking), and you give it your best shot to get them off your back.

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Will it last : Having the diet police looking over your shoulder at every minute can create resentment. If you lose weight for another person, you'll probably start stuffing doughnuts down your throat the first time you get angry at that person. Whenever someone in my family told me not to eat something, I just took it as all the more reason to show my independence and shove that croissant down in two defiant bites. Then I felt doubly bad: guilty for eating the croissant and ashamed for disappointing both myself and my family.

Make it last : Sit down with your family members and have a reasoned, rational discussion. Make it clear that you know you have to lose weight, but you don't want them watching all your food choices or telling you what you should or shouldn't eat, because that will only annoy you and make it less likely that you'll do what you already know you should be doing. Explain that they don't have to modify their own lives, but they should at least support your objective.

More: How to Track Your Weight Loss

Trigger: Competition or Success

Examples : Friends, family or co-workers decide to lose weight; a walking or weight-loss competition among your colleagues at work; seeing people you know succeeding at losing weight and keeping it off.

How it works : They make it look "doable." If he/she can do it, so can I. Why not join in? It doesn't look that hard. Or, you're just plain competitive and want to win.

Will it last : There is a good chance the competition will last. For many, the determination to win at all costs begins the weight-loss process. And once the contest is over, they will likely continue on their weight-loss regimen because they're pleased with their achievement. There is also strong motivation in seeing others succeed at losing weight.

More: 8 Steps to a Healthy Relationship With Food

Make it last : Seeing others succeed can be a great start, but make sure you use their example as the inspiration to create a plan of your own--not just to copy exactly what they did. For instance, just because your husband loses weight by following a glycemic index diet doesn't mean that following the same diet will work for you. It's the success you want to emulate, not the specific diet itself.

Trigger: Emotional

Examples : Overhearing a co-worker call you a fat slob; being charged for two seats on an airplane.

How it works : You're embarrassed and use revenge as a motivator.

Will it last : Very possibly. Humiliation is long-lasting, and if you channel your energies into eating better and increasing your physical activity, you will likely lose weight and keep it off.

Make it last : Use this strong inspiration wisely. Don't go to extremes. Set yourself up with eating and activity behaviors that are realistic for your current situation, especially in the beginning, while the memory of the humiliation is still fresh in your mind. For instance, don't start exercising 90 minutes a day, seven days per week if you know that you probably will not keep it up. You'd be better served to start with a more realistic plan that does not require overhauling your entire lifestyle.

More: Healthy Ways to Handle Food Cravings

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