I recently has the pleasure of meeting Joy Bauer, who is often on the Today Show giving tips and inspiration for becoming more fit. Her warmth comes across on the screen but in person she was even more of a doll than she seems. Joy’s enthusiasm for helping people become more fit radiates out from her. She really got me thinking about the best way for weight loss.

Eating in ways that aren’t fulfilling or that you plain old don’t like will not make you fit in the long run.

I’ve heard many people tout their own weight loss programs. Some push juicing for your meals; some doing regular cleansings. Many have rigid eating plans. I’m sure that all of these work for some people but, they’d be hard for most of us to stick to. And often, they can be time consuming and pricy. So yeah, celebrities with big budgets and people who prepare food for them can swear by these diets. I personally prefer a plan for life. The best way to lose weight is to take it off slowly by eating in a more healthy way and getting your body moving. doing those two things is a great way to say, “I love me!”

I know from experience. A bunch of years ago my weight began to inch up. Part of it was from getting a little older. Our bodies often need less food as we age but my appetite didn’t want to accept that. The two biggest contributors were doing a 3-month road trip for a book tour and a year later, going on a long vacation. I drove around the whole country for three months, eating out every meal and rarely having time to exercise. I returned right before Thanksgiving and gained more as I ate my way through the whole holiday season.

In the new year I began to get into better habits and dropped a few pounds. But then I had an opportunity to go on an 18-day media trip/vacation. Most of my meals were provided. And they were much more lavish than what I normally eat. There was dessert at every meal. I pigged out since it was fun, and free! But it wasn’t free as I paid for it by returning home and the weight I’d gained added to what I’d already put on meant I was thirty-one pounds more than the weight I’d been at for most of my adult life.

My first thought was to starve myself. Instead, watching Joy Bauer and hearing helpful suggestions and motivation helped me to just return to a more healthy lifestyle. I never deprived myself. I love sweets but try to reserve dessert for the weekend, usually after lunch so it can burn off more. And I exercise, doing weight training and running in Central Park, both of which I love. Someone taught me long ago that the best way to stick to exercise is to only do what you like. And since I love to walk, that’s my main transportation getting around the city.

Joy also features people who’ve lost a lot of weight and inducts them into her Joy Fit Club. I love that it’s not the Joy Weight Loss Club. My main mindset it to get more fit. Weight loss usually comes with that. In order to lose weight and keep it off you need to get fit in body, mind and spirit—eating healthy and exercising, doing your best to love yourself and believing that you deserve to feel great.

Joy’s suggestions are realistic, which is why I love them. While some diets might actually work if we stick to them, most of us don’t have that kind of sticking power. Plus, when you follow a rigid diet it’s not satisfying so cravings get stronger. Changing your eating habits but still keeping the food yummy feels satisfying. I recently added a small piece of dark chocolate to the end of my dinner, and I’ve lost two more pounds! So it’s true that dark chocolate can actually help you lose weight if you only have a piece. I nibble it and once I’m done, I feel satisfied till bedtime.

Choose a healthy lifestyle over a diet! It will not only help you lose weight but you’ll also be healthier in many other ways. I’m slowly working my way through Joy Bauer’s new book, The Joy fit Club. which I love. Joy shares recipes, fitness tips and stories of people who are in her Joy Fit Club so you can see how other people found their way to being fit. I could feel Joy cheering me on throughout the book.

Oh yeah, by the way, I recently hit thirty-two pounds off—my lowest weight since my early twenties! It’s taken years to get here—years of changing my eating and exercise habits to healthier ones. Slow and steady works best to keep the weight off.  Plus, I feel so fabulously fit and healthy. That’s just as good as my weight loss! Find your own way to fitness in whatever way works for you. I believe it begins with the hardest thing of all—admitting that you have unhealthy habits that need to change and making a commitment to replace those habits and unhealthy foods with healthier ones. When you build enough self-love, you’ll want to make that change so you can be happier.

Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2012 HERE.

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