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Thursday, September 28, 2006

4 Great Weight Loss Secrets

You WILL lose 20 pounds!

If you want to drop five pounds in time for a New Year's party, a crash weight loss diet might do. But to shed 20, 40 or more pounds, you need a plan for the long haul -- and a few proven strategies that will keep up your momentum.

To find those tricks, we talked to the trade: the country's most successful weight-loss centers, where up to 70 percent of participants lose big and maintain their new weight for at least a year.

Though these clinics agree on the basics (eat less, exercise more and learn to handle stress without your pals Ben and Jerry), their experts take different approaches to big-number weight loss. (Some encourage controlled snacking, for instance, while others forbid it.)

So pick the tips that make sense for you. These are some of the slimming secrets that spa guests pay thousands of dollars to learn.

Mark Your Success in Stages

The spa: Duke University Diet and Fitness Center, Durham, North Carolina

The strategy: Lose 10 percent of your weight initially, maintain that level for one to three months, then start on the next 10 percent. "It's daunting to attempt to lose 40 or 50 pounds," health psychologist Patricia Esperon says. "That's why we suggest dropping them in stages."

If you weigh 160 pounds, shoot for losing 16 over the course of about four months. Then wait a few months before working on the next 10 percent, and so on. "This is really successful for people who have a history of losing and regaining weight," Esperon says.

If you feel that family and friends unwittingly sabotage your diet (a common problem), write them a letter asking for support. Point out behaviors that drive you to cheat -- like constantly asking you how much you've lost. Duke's sample letter puts it this way: "You may feel that your questions about my weight are supportive, but I might take them as pressure and feel frustrated when I can't report better numbers every time you ask."

To be continued...

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