Behavior change is key

If you want to lose weight and keep it off forever, you not only have to eat right and exercise, but also be persistent.

To succeed, you have to change your behavior - for good. Look at it this way: It isn’t a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. You must be ready to face setbacks, and keep on trying.

Behavior change is the cornerstone of healthy, successful weight loss, and it takes about three months to establish a new behavior.

Americans are not known for their weight loss success. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 66 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Despite a huge, billion-dollar weight loss industry, it’s estimated only 20 percent of Americans who lose weight actually keep it off after one year.

Changing behavior is tough. It is actually a skill and needs to be approached that way.

When you learn to ride a bike, you expect that you will fall down a couple of times and are prepared to try again and get back on. You need to have the same expectation with weight loss and to plan accordingly.

So, if you're going to change, where do you begin?


  1. Eat breakfast. Eating within one hour of awakening can boost your metabolism up to 20 percent for the rest of the day.

  2. Weigh yourself once a week. Monitoring your weight on a weekly basis provides a fairly accurate weight trend and early detection of weight regain, which allows you to change your behavior accordingly.

  3. Get 30-60 minutes of activity each day. Try for 30 minutes of strength training three to four times a week and an additional 30 minutes of aerobic daily. It can be walking, race walking, biking, swimming, snow shoveling or anything to get your heart rate elevated to an aerobic level.

  4. Watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. You may think you don’t have time to exercise or cook healthy meals. Count up the hours you spend watching television and use that time for exercising and cooking.


  1. Overestimate the amount of physical activity you get. It’s easy to think you have done more than you really did. So measure it! Keep an activity journal that lists everything you do each day. Also wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take. Aim for 10,000 steps a day.

  2. Underestimate caloric intake. Write down what you eat and how many calories you are consuming. People who keep a journal lose more weight.

  3. Set unrealistic goals. Make specific measurable goals that you can attain. Don’t say “I will exercise more.” Do say, “I will walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”

Julie Cantrell is owner of Hood River Curves.

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