No Late-Night Eating Your ideal world thinking: "Eating in the evening will sabotage my weight-loss efforts. The best rule is to never eat after 7 p.m."
Real world solution: The only thing that can sabotage your weight-loss plan is eating extra calories. You can eat whatever time you want as long as you stay within your calorie limit for the day. If you enjoy an after-dinner snack, try saving some calories from earlier in the day to eat at night. Allow yourself a snack of up to 200 calories in the evening and just eat 200 fewer calories during the day.
Eat a Big Breakfast Every Day Your ideal world thinking: "For good health and weight control, breakfast is my key to success. I will cook and eat breakfast at home every day."
Real world solution: You don't have to race down to the kitchen every morning to fuel up. Aim to eat breakfast within two hours of waking up and you don't need a big, elaborate breakfast. Try a bowl of instant oatmeal and a simple skim milk latte or a nutrient-dense protein bar with a piece of fresh fruit for an easy breakfast-on-the-go. Save your kitchen skills for a home-cooked breakfast on the weekends when you have more time.
Never Eat Fast Food Your ideal world thinking: "Fast food is a weight-loss nightmare. It's loaded with fat and calories. Even if I feel deprived, I'm not eating it again."
Real world solution: When it comes to fast food, portion size is key. Downsize your choice in any fast-food chain to a kid's meal (with water or a sugar-free soda) and you'll have an indulgence of about 400 to 500 calories. If you crave fast food, have it as an occasional treat. It will help prevent deprivation, which can lead to a loss of control and overeating. Preplanning is the best defense.
Hit the Gym Every Day Your ideal world thinking: "I'm going to the gym every day, rain or shine. Nothing will interfere with my schedule."
Real world solution: Get to the gym at least three days a week (more often is a bonus). Setting exercise goals for the week is optimal. Balance your efforts at the gym with at-home activities like the treadmill, free weights, or exercise DVDs. Boost the amount of activity in your daily life. This can easily be achieved by taking more stairs, parking further away from a destination and walking around when talking on the cell phone.
I Have to Lose X Pounds in X Weeks Your ideal world thinking: "I'm going to lose 20 pounds in 5 weeks, and I will stick to this plan no matter how hard it is."
Real world solution: Quick weight-loss is never sustained. Be sure to set a modest goal and reevaluate week to week. The first week or two of any weight-loss plan is the "honeymoon" period. Aim for five pounds within the first two weeks and any additional weight loss is a bonus. Early success is the best way to stay motivated. Go one week at a time and remember that "not gaining" is still success!
Eat Homemade Organic Meals Everyday Your ideal world thinking: "I'm going to shop at the farmer's market daily on my way home from work and prepare a low-calorie, healthy dinner every night."
Real world solution: While we want to "go green" in our eating, shopping and cooking, doing so is a major time commitment. Aim to shop once or twice a week at a farmer's market or the organic or locally grown section of your grocery store. Keep some pantry basics on hand, like canned tuna, for days when you can't cook. Frozen calorie-controlled entrees can provide a healthy microwaveable meal in minutes when time is tight.
No Snacking Your ideal world thinking: "I'm going to cut out a late-afternoon snack to save calories; that way, I can eat more for dinner."
Real world solution: It's best to stop eating by the clock and start listening to your hunger and fullness signals. If hunger strikes, having a snack two to three hours before you plan to eat is often the best way to avoid overeating at dinner. Keep healthy nutrient-rich snacks handy, like an apple or low-fat yogurt, so you're not tempted to visit the vending machines.
Take Lots of Supplements Your ideal world thinking: "I want to include special dietary supplements to optimize my nutrient needs and boost my energy and health."
Real world solution: When it comes to vitamins and other dietary supplements, more is not better. Nutrients from foods should be the main source of nutrient intake since a supplement cannot replace real food. One daily vitamin & mineral supplement with 100 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) can cover your basic needs. (Women 50 or older should look for a vitamin without iron.) Talk to your doctor before adding any additional supplements.
Throw Out All Junk Food Your ideal world thinking: "I'm going to put myself on a strict 'boot camp' eating regimen by eliminating ALL treats from my eating plan. Out of sight, out of mind."
Real world solution: While we'd like to think that keeping tempting treats out of view will help support healthy eating, it often backfires when we feel like we're restricting ourselves too much. Within a structured eating plan, You can still fit in a modest treat or indulgence. Allowing yourself a snack of 100 calories or so--whether it's a few squares of dark chocolate or an oatmeal cookie--can actually help you stay on track by keeping you from feeling deprived, so you don't lose control later and overeat.