The Best Ways to Lose 30 Pounds

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As most dieters already know, the best way to lose 30 pounds is not the fastest. Forget choking down gallons of cayenne pepper lemonade or getting injected with hormones your body only makes during pregnancy. If you want to lose 30 pounds–and keep it off–you have to get back to the basics: food and exercise.

5 Use the Buddy System

Lots of things are easier with a little support. Finding some fitness friends will make your weight loss goal more fun. If you don’t already have an appropriate acquaintance, try going to exercise classes at a gym or community center. The class might feel like a supportive environment, or maybe you’ll meet somebody who will want to exercise with you and help keep you accountable for your fitness goals.

4 Understand Your Emotions

You probably already know that you’re supposed to exercise regularly and not live on potato chips and donuts. But knowledge doesn’t solve all our problems. Many people pack on pounds because of uncomfortable emotions. Sad? Lonely? Angry? Feeling unloved and deprived? If we want to live our happiest lives and be our best selves–never mind the 30 pounds–it behooves us to address these emotions and their connection to food. Many people work themselves into an adversarial relationship around food. “Food’s not bad,” said Gallagher. “We’re blessed to have these foods.” The goal is to enjoy what you eat and then go on with your day, she said. If you frequently binge and then scold yourself like a bad child, it may be time to talk to a counselor who specializes in food and body image issues.

3 Eat and Drink Wisely

The simple foods are usually the best. In his book “The Starch Solution,” John McDougall talks about the shift in eating patterns over the course of the 20th century. His parents, who survived the Great Depression, made do with corn, beans, cabbage, bread, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables. When finances improved, they wanted their children to have the best, so they stuffed them full of pork, white bread, milk, cake and mayonnaise. Guess which generation got fat? Center your diet around fresh vegetables, whole grains and low-fat proteins such as lentils and beans. Avoid eating too much fat or sugar or packaged foods made with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Try to limit yourself to drinking water and tea or coffee. Eat whole fruit instead of juice, as it’s lower in calories and higher in fiber.

2 Pick Your Activities

Way too many people dourly pump the elliptical machine as though doing penance. Others jog, despite knee pain and general lack of fun. If you like these fitness staples, great. But if not, find something you enjoy. Dancing, snowboarding, roller skating, swimming or tennis are all viable ways to increase fitness and burn calories. The big difference between those who succeed at goals and those who don’t is perseverance, Gallagher said. And if you’re just doing an exercise because you think it’s good for you, greater temptations might soon lead you away.

1 Break It Down

Thirty pounds is a big goal. It’s like thinking about running a marathon when you’re used to taking a leisurely walk around the block. So how can you address those 30 pounds? One pound at a time, says wellness coach Jenny Gallagher. “I like people to feel success along the way,” she said. To do that, break down the 30 pounds to what you can achieve each month. Gallagher suggests a pound a week is a sustainable goal, meaning four pounds per month. Since one pound equals 3,500 calories, that means dropping 500 calories per day through diet and/or exercise.

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Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.

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