Old loop: What's the point of losing weight during the winter? I'll get in shape come summer

Switch to... By eating more now, I'm creating a lot of extra work for myself when spring rolls around.

Here's How: A study by scientists at the National Institutes of Health tracked 195 people through the holidays and found an average weight gain of about a pound.

By the following year, most had gained another half pound, and the researchers predicted that the trend would only continue. To prevent this outward creep, Gullo says, keep thoughts of summer in your house all year long by hanging a bikini or skimpy sundress on the back of the bathroom door, and visualize yourself wearing it every time you head for the leftovers. He also proposes committing to a regular exercise program in the fall, "before the winter blahs set in," because lugging last night's comfort food through an hour-long spinning class isn't so comfortable.

Old loop: Fat runs in my family, so why bother exercising?

Switch to... I can't change my DNA, but I can change my fate.

Here's How: "Genetics helps determine your natural weight range, but you have some control over where you fall within that range," says Edward Abramson, PhD, an expert on obesity, dieting, and weight disorders and the author of Body Intelligence. Rather than aiming for a size 2, aim for health: If being overweight is a family trait, diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related illnesses could be, too, Schwartz says. Walk to the grocery store, choose the stairs over the escalator, and take good care of the body you were born with. "It's important to distinguish between body size and body health," she says. "Research shows that people who are overweight and physically fit can live longer than people who are ideal weight and not physically fit."

Old loop: After that grueling workout, I deserve a bacon double cheeseburger

Switch to... After busting my butt at the gym, my body deserves the VIP treatment.

Here's How: "Most people overestimate the number of calories they've burned," says Brian Wansink, PhD, a professor of marketing, applied economics, and nutritional science at Cornell University and author of Marketing Nutrition. To burn off a bacon double cheeseburger, the average 140-pound woman has to jog at a rate of five miles per hour for more than 60 minutes. Recast your concept of reward: Instead of seeking food, take a luxurious bubble bath, rent a guilty-pleasure movie, buy a new pair of shoes, or lose yourself in a good novel.

Old loop: I'll grab a candy bar to get me through my mid afternoon slump

Switch to... When my energy flags, I need food that will help me go the distance.

Here's How: Candy and other sweets have little nutritional value, and they destabilize blood sugar, causing you to have more cravings later on, Gullo says. To head off a snack attack, he suggests, "reprogram yourself to seek out a mini-meal 30 minutes before you usually hit a slump." By eating before you're famished, you should be able to resist the sweet stuff and choose foods with enough protein, fat, and complex carbs to keep you sated and energized until dinner. Some of Gullo's top picks: bran crackers with low-fat cheese, a hard-boiled egg, or a cup of low-fat yogurt.

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