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In “Weight Loss Doesn’t Always Lead to Happiness,” Ed Cara gives a nice overview of some of the challenges around the weight-loss experience and the efforts of healthcare providers and others to persuade people to exercise more and eat better. Weight loss isn’t magic, but if you keep getting bombarded with messages that it is, and manage to lose a bunch of weight, reality can make it pretty tough to care about keeping it off. In the process, we lose sight of ways people can address quality of life more meaningfully.

How Can I Beat the Odds?

The best way to get around the happiness problem is not to expect losing some weight to make you happy all by itself. Fortunately, the well-being benefit that we claim for having healthy eating and exercise habits comes not from meeting a specific weight-loss goal but simply from eating better and being more active, which boost energy, improve sleep, and get the body working more smoothly. Making it easier to stick with those habits is likely to help you more than a particular number on the bathroom scale.

— Make daily activity a priority, even if some days it’s just a couple of short walks.
Get started with something that sounds easy (like 1 less sugar packet in your coffee) — you have plenty of time to refine your plan.
Make checklists, and check items off. A calendar where you make a tick mark on each day you exercise is also a simple — and effective — help.
— Build some activity into socializing with friends to make it fun rather than “just exercise.”
— Just go outside.

Whatever you want to do, take a step toward it.

Image: A fitness trainer’s business card.

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