Weight Loss Tips Image Gallery
Weight Loss Tips Image Gallery

Losing weight is one thing, but keeping it off is another. What's the best plan for you?

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When people are very hungry, they think longingly of their favorite dishes. Mom's famous pasta. Fried chicken like only that little place down the road can make. German chocolate cake. We yearn for foods that are burned into our emotional memory -- meals shared with loved ones, in places we were happy. There's a reason the phrase "comfort food" came into existence.

It's chemical, too. Sugar and starch set the switch to "on" for serotonin and salty foods for oxytocin [source: Rufus]. Those are the same chemicals involved in Prozac and orgasms, respectively.

So it's not easy to simply put down the doughnut and get on the treadmill. Losing weight is hard -- much harder than most people realize. To lose weight and keep it off, you essentially have to break up with food and start a new relationship.

And the fastest ways to lose weight usually aren't the best ways. You can eat next to nothing, take diet pills and laxatives and definitely see a smaller numbers on the scale. But people aren't designed to live like that for long. When you're not feeding your body, you start losing fat, but you also start losing muscle -- your body is wired to not let you starve. After too much long-term laxative use, your digestive system can actually forget how to process things on its own, and you'll no longer be able to do without them [source: Mayo Clinic]. In addition, many diet pills are dangerous. "Fen phen," or fenfluramine phentermine, was a very effective diet pill but it damaged people's heart valves.

That's the fastest way.

The most popular way to lose weight is probably through different fad diets. Yes, you'll get skinnier if you're only eating cabbage soup. You'll experience memorable flatulence, but you'll be thinner. At least, until you give it up, because humans aren't meant to live exclusively on cabbage soup or maple syrup with cayenne pepper or grapefruit. These methods work in the short term, but they are destined to fail. They don't take into account the very human need for variety, and they depend on a system of dividing foods into good and bad. Once a food is labeled bad, it's only more tempting.

The best way to lose weight is to move more and eat less. But it is also true that in order to do so and be successful, you have to change the way you think.