12 Best Ways to Lose Weight ...

If you're like me, you're always thinking about a ****diet, starting a diet, or - worst of all - going off your diet for just one little treat! I'm constantly trying to find ways to lose those last few pounds. So, I've gathered up the twelve best ways for you to get motivated to** lose weight**. Check out my tips below and remember that it's the small things you should do everyday that add up!

1. Take before Pictures ...

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Go ahead and take some really bad pictures of your "before" self. I mean, really bad. No smiles, no makeup, no styled hair... just you, a sports bra, and a pair of underwear. When you see those pictures stuck to your fridge, you'll be a lot less tempted to chow down on some ice cream or cake.

2. Get a Support Group ...

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If you want to lose weight successfully and stay motivated long-term, you need backup. So, get some weight losing support behind you. There's lots of ways to do this... start an exercise group, begin a "biggest loser" competition at work, or join an online weight loss website. If you've got cheerleaders, you're less likely to quit the game!

3. Go Public ...

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In addition to getting support, you've got to go public with your goals. I don't mean buying a billboard in Times Square, but you need to share your weight loss goals with some people in your life who can hold you accountable. Why? Because it will be really embarrassing when you have to tell all these people you've given up! So, you'll be less likely to quit if you know you've got an audience.

4. Read the Labels ...

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When you're shopping, you've got to read the labels on what you buy. Don't just assume that a product screaming "Low Fat" on the front of the box is actually good for you... flip it over and look. Consider calories, fat, sugar, and sodium when choosing what you're going to eat. Also, check that portion size... sure, 3 grams of fat per serving is great, but if it is for a tiny portion, can you really stop eating after that small amount of food?

5. Set Realistic Goals ...

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Don't think you're going to lose fifty pounds in two months... or even three or four. Setting high goals doesn't really help you. Instead, it just sets you up for frustration and failure. Plan to lose 2-3 pounds per week... that's healthy and safe for you body, and you'll really be burning fat, not just losing water or muscle. Read about losing weight realistically on WebMD.

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6. Get Your Priorities Straight ...

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Sure, your salad would taste amazing with a little extra dressing or some added toppings ... but would delaying your weight loss goals be worth that taste? You might not think one extra tablespoon of mayo on your hoagie makes that much difference, but these little things add up. Make up your mind that you're willing to miss these little extras for a while, and you'll meet your weight goals that much quicker.

7. Get Some Sleep ...

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Experts agree that too little sleep equals no weight loss. You need to get at least seven to eight hours of restorative sleep each night if you want to lose weight. Sleeping well lowers cortisol levels, helping your body burn that much-hated belly fat. Check out what WebMD says about the sleep and weight loss connection.

8. Snack Wisely ...

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It is okay to snack between meals. In fact, its a good idea. The reason you should snack is because it will keep you from overeating at meals, and that's a good thing. The key is to make your snacks good snacks. Carry lots of healthy treats with you so you aren't tempted to grab something full of trans fat out of the vending machine. Read what The Diet Channel advises on snacking.

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9. Fiber, Fiber, Fiber ...

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If you want to keep your body moving and feel full at the same time, you've got to load up on fiber. This means eating lots of whole grains, fresh fruit, and raw veggies. You'll fill up faster and digest your food better, making you feel less bloated and tired. Fiber is a dieter's best friend!

10. Chug the H2O ...

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If you're not staying hydrated, you're not going to lose weight. Your body cannot function without enough water, and your weight loss will be slowed if your body's feeling dry. So, carry a bottle of water with you all day long and sip on it. The bonus from this practice? All that water will help keep you feeling full instead of hungry!

11. Keep a Food Journal ...

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Studies have shown that people who write down what they eat are more cognisant of what they eat and generally do a better job of eating right. Maybe it is because it makes you more accountable to yourself? Maybe you feel guilty when you write down "four cupcakes and two donuts" where you meant to write "one apple" as a snack? Either way, food journaling make take a little time, but it will make you thinner. Check out The Diet Channel's food diary.

12. Control Your Portions ...

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Most of us eat way too much, even of the good stuff. I know I have a really hard time controlling cereal portions. Even if the cereal is totally whole grain and healthy, I still don't need a heaping bowlful, but that's what I want! So, to lose weight, we've got to start thinking about the actual size of the portions we're eating. We don't need a plateful of pasta, a bowlful of ice cream, or a supersize fry.

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If losing weight were easy, then everyone would be thin. It is hard work! It takes time, effort, and a lot of thought. Take my twelve tips and put them to work for you... and we'll all be swimsuit ready this summer! Do you have any more tips for me to try? Post them below if you do, and I'll try them out!

Photo Credit: michael.seth

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