Lifestyle Change over Diets: How to Successfully Lose Weight

A new report indicates that most Americans are not on a diet, and their popularity appears to be on the decline.

About a quarter of women and 19 percent of the men in the study said they were on a diet. That’s down from 35 percent of women and 26 percent of men in 1990; this is the lowest percentage of dieters we've seen in 16 years.

Nonetheless, most Americans -- about 60 percent -- say that they still want to lose 20 pounds. Given our national obesity rate, this is making several health experts nervous.

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I hope this study reflects the trend toward positive lifestyle changes, such as eating more consciously and healthfully and working exercise into our day-to-day lives.

After all, it's hard to trust diet fads in general when one tells us to swear off eggs, butter, cream and red meat, another tells us that pasta, white rice, and potatoes are the enemy, and others insist that subsisting on lemon juice or cabbage soup can work miracles. Or maybe everyone just got tired of dropping a few pounds, only to watch the scale bounce back up when they resumed their normal habits.

For me, the concept of dieting got the final nail in its coffin a couple years ago. My friends' Dachshund let himself go and got really fat. Poor guy lost his sleek wiener dog physique and started to look more like a overstuffed burrito, albeit one with floppy ears and a tail. After a heart-to-heart with the vet, his owners realized that he needed to lose five pounds, or a good third of his body weight.

"Sounds like he'll be on a really strict diet," I said when I heard the news.

"It's not a diet," my friend told me wryly. "It's a lifestyle change."

Today, after longer walks and fewer treats, he's regained his svelte shape. And he's never ever been on a diet.

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