bob greene
Photo: Tom Maday
Over the past decade, I've noticed that people tend to make the same mistakes over and over again when it comes to losing weight and staying healthy. Luckily, you don't have to follow in their footsteps.

1. They work out simply to burn calories. What matters more is exercise intensity. Vigorous exercise dulls your appetite, while moderate exercise stimulates it.

2. They strength train with two-pound dumbbells. Heavier weights will help you build bone mass. You should be able to complete only 8 to 10 repetitions of each exercise.

3. They substitute pie for the pie chart. Draw a circle and divide it into wedges, like a pie. Label each wedge with some aspect of your life—your finances, your kids, your spouse—then, using a plus or a minus sign, note whether each area is going well. Work on nurturing areas that you're unhappy with, and your weight will be easier to control.

4. They aren't aware of third-hand smoke. These foul-smelling toxins can linger on your hair, clothes, carpet, and furniture. Even if your partner isn't lighting up inside the house, third-hand smoke can harm you and your family.

5. They keep eating until they go to bed. Make a hard-and-fast rule: no eating within two hours of bedtime.

6. They don't pay attention to the hunger scale. Imagine a scale from one to five—one being full, and five being ravenous. If you're hitting a three—your stomach's grumbling, you're physically dragging—it's time to eat. Any lower than that, and you're eating to fill an emotional need, not a physical one.

7. They don't think about how relationships affect their motivation. If you've got a strong support network, you're less likely to de-stress by crashing in front of the TV or eating poorly.

8. They think a finite goal is the only thing that matters. I've seen clients reach their goal weight, then gain it back once they realize that life isn't suddenly perfect—even at a size 6. Make your goal to live a healthy life, no matter what's on the scale.

9. They fall for the latest fad. A "cookie diet" is not a sound nutritional plan.

10. They underestimate the power of 80 percent. People tend to have an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to living healthy. But if you can put these tips into practice even 80 percent of the time, you're still going to be successful.

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