After working in the area of counseling and eating disorders for many years, I recognize that one of the chief sources of stress and low self-esteem for people is the anticipation of failure at weight control.  Many people report a kind of feeding frenzy just before D-day (the day the diet is to begin), followed by failure to stick to a plan during the first three days, followed by a rebound in weight.

Thinking about dieting and weight control can be more stressful than the actual process. In fact, the lead up to “time to go on a diet” can even result in greater weight gain. We are constantly bombarded with methods to lose weight. Usually they involve expensive programs that promise success. However, there are three important ingredients in any weight loss program that do not involve money or signing up with any particular program. You can do them yourself, for free, and be on your way to successful weight control. Think of these steps as your diet “launch pad.”


  1. Begin by monitoring your present weight and deciding not to gain any additional weight. Whatever your starting point – if you are ten, twenty or fifty pounds or more overweight – the first step is to monitor you weight by weighing yourself daily for three to four weeks and trying to maintain your weight rather than gain. If you don’t lose weight during this time, it doesn’t matter. The goal is to maintain your weight and not put on additional pounds.
  2. Start to keep a diet diary. As you begin to weigh yourself each day, keep a record of what you are eating. Notice if your weight seems to increase or decrease depending on what you ate, not just the previous day, but over a period of four to five days. You will begin to see a pattern.
  3. Begin to let yourself go without eating for longer times between meals and snacks. (You may feel voraciously hungry after not eating for three hours. See if you can go for four hours.) Notice how you feel. If you can combine this observation with your food diary, you may begin to see that certain foods like sugary foods (or foods high in carbohydrate and fat – like donuts and muffins) don’t give you long-lasting satisfaction. Don’t treat yourself today because you are anticipating deprivation. Start decreasing treats to smaller portions. Slow down your eating. Try to be the last one at the table.


These are the first steps to beginning a life-long control of body weight. The key to a successful program is that you feel in control and in charge of what you’re doing. Start by understanding your relationship to body weight and your daily cycles and cravings. Be kind to yourself. You’ll be on your way to life-long healthy eating and weight control.