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5 things to do before you diet (and one to skip)

Later this week, we'll be launching our brand new Reach Your Goal 2009 program on Self.com and in the September issue of the magazine. It's an awesome plan that lets you choose a specific body-success-objective and then maps out a simple, effective plan to help you achieve it. The diet portion of the plan features our 20 superfoods for weight loss and the meals are designed to help increase your e
/ Source: Self

Later this week, we'll be launching our brand new Reach Your Goal 2009 program on Self.com and in the September issue of the magazine. It's an awesome plan that lets you choose a specific body-success-objective and then maps out a simple, effective plan to help you achieve it. The diet portion of the plan features our 20 superfoods for weight loss and the meals are designed to help increase your energy and help your body burn more fat.

But there are a few steps you should take before you start a weight loss program that will help you succeed down the line. I thought of a few tasks to cross off of your list before you begin your new diet (and one common pitfall to avoid). Tackle these, then sign up for goals and get losing!

Plan to plan

Ever heard the phrase “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Cheesy? Maybe. True? Absolutely. If you're going to overhaul your eating, you need to set aside time to map out your meals. Some women like to sit down on Sunday afternoon and create a scheme for their entire week. Others go day by day and jot down the next day's eating plan each evening. Whenever works for you, get in the habit of planning what you'll have for every meal, snack or treat. Knowing what's on the menu will help you grocery shop more efficiently and make it easier to turn down temptations (who needs those cookies in the break room when you have a delicious lunch waiting for you in the fridge?).

Spread the word

Study after study has demonstrated that having support multiplies your chances of diet success. So why stay hush about your plan to drop pounds? Let your family and friends know that you're starting a new diet and that you need their encouragement. It can also help to find a diet buddy who has a similar goal to yours; you can keep each other posted on your progress, swap advice and motivate one another. Or find a Self.com group that appeals to you here.

Log your bites

That's right — write down what you eat before you start dieting. Tallying your total calories may give you an eye-opening look at what you're really eating and motivate you to make changes. You can also note trouble spots that you'll need strategies to help you overcome. You're a 3 o'clock stress eater? Pack a healthy snack and save it for 3pm to help you bypass candy cravings.

Audit your kitchen

What's your trigger food? See your food diary for the answer. Whether it's cheetos, chocolate or cheesecake, remove the food that tempts you from your kitchen. And while you're at it, toss any high-fat, high-calorie, super-processed eats. If they're around, you'll be more likely to eat them. Why not increase your odds of success by chucking them? (Remember that your body is not a garbage can; extra food is wasted on your hips as much as it is wasted in the trash.) Then restock with whole grains, lean protein and loads of produce.

Give yourself something to look forward to

Set a realistic weight loss goal (2 pounds a week is a safe amount) and make a list of the reasons you want to meet it (you'll have more energy, look sleek in that swimsuit, have more confidence, etc) or create an inspiration board with photos and words that outline your reasons for losing. Then make a list of non-food rewards you'll give yourself along the way (say, after every 5 pounds you lose): A manicure, a massage, a movie, whatever strikes your fancy (and fits your budget). Later, when your will power begins to wane, whip out the lists for a reminder of why you're dieting and incentives to keep you going.

And finally, one pre-diet to-don't:

Avoid bingeing on junk in the days before you diet. It's counter to your eventual objective and sets you up for a cycle of yo-yoing. This is not the last time you'll get to eat cake, ice cream, fries or chips. In fact, treating yourself daily will help you stick to your diet long term. Now get ready to see scale success!

For more weight loss information and tips, visit Self.com