You know why you’re reading this? You’ve made a bold and scary decision to lose 10 pounds. You’re doing it for better health and more self-confidence…both you can get from shedding extra weight.

But losing weight is not instant, as if you wished on a magic lamp. While we live in a culture where we expect quick results, like fast food that’s ready in five minutes, losing 10 pounds doesn’t fit in this category.

Before you start a weight loss plan, you have to prepare yourself mentally for the challenge. Remember that losing 10 pounds won’t happen overnight. And give yourself time to adjust to the new you, especially if you’ve tried to lose weight in the past and failed.

First off, carefully inspect your eating habits. For instance, do you seem to eat more when dining with company than when you’re alone? Perhaps you and your spouse have a routine where you relieve stress by drinking hot cocoa every morning. Or, do you end up eating those delectable cupcakes you baked for the school sale.

Next, based on your current eating habits, decide on specific changes you can make. Maybe you can forget about baking for the school sale and find non-food ways to participate in fundraising. And you can switch to drinking green tea every morning instead of hot cocoa. Plus, if being a dinner guest puts pressure on you to overeat, you can politely leave before dessert or try small amounts of each course to avoid offending the host.

Once you have ideas for new eating habits, make up a day-to-day meal plan. For dining at restaurants and at friends? homes, continue to stick to your routine as much as possible. Do your best to stay within limits and soon, you will thrive on controlled eating habits.

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You should also look at your exercise routine to help you lose 10 pounds. Maybe you used to be extremely active, but now spend most of your time sitting, whether at home or at work.

Decide on exercise goals, beginning with the length of time you can devote. “I will exercise 1 hour a day,” sounds great, if you don’t have too many other commitments. However, if you’re busy, you may need to adjust to a realistic goal: “I will exercise 30 minutes a day,” may be better.

You can also vary the length of time you exercise to lose 10 pounds. For instance, you have bigger chunks of time during the weekend. Your goals could be to exercise 30 minutes during the weekdays and 1 hour on weekends.

When you exercise also matters. Maybe you’re an early riser, and you have free time before you take the kids to school and head to your job. Then you could try to add exercise to your morning routine. On the other hand, you might barely get out of bed and arrive almost late for work. Yet you have time to spare after work, so you would try an evening exercise routine.

Next, we come to how you will exercise. Since most of us dread this word, you have to set your mind to view exercise as playing or having fun, not as a burden. And finding activities you enjoy turns exercise into fun. Whether you give rollerblading a try, or you join a bicycling club, search out and find “exercises” that you like.

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After you know what exercises you will use, get a daily planner and write down specific exercises, the time you will start, and how long you will exercise. For instance, on May 30, 9 a.m., you write, “Ride bicycle, for 30 minutes.” As you can see, a detailed exercise routine keeps you from saying, “I don’t have time to exercise.”

You’ve probably made an observation- Sticking to a routine with your exercise and eating habits makes losing 10 pounds easier. But, the routine can only help you if you commit yourself…so use determination to succeed, and then you really will be successful in losing 10 pounds.

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