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Why the First Five Pounds Are Always the Hardest

When you lose weight, you're not sacrificing, you're investing. Let's keep rolling with the money theme. Don't lose weight -- instead, gain self-confidence, better health and self-esteem. Keep the tone positive at all times.
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Woman on a scale checking weight
Woman on a scale checking weight

I lost few pounds last month. I had no idea, until my daughter remarked that I was looking thin. I didn't believe her but she was insistent, so for the first time in a few weeks, I stepped on the scale. Guess what -- even weight loss consultants can get gobsmacked by numbers.

How can a small woman like me lose six percent of her total weight and not notice? All it takes is a shift in habits and a busy schedule. I had made the decision to stop taking so many cabs; in New York City, walking a short distance often is quicker. My extra steps accounted for 24,500 calories more than I took in.

It's a fun story that also illustrates why losing weight can be so frustrating for so many people. If you've been overweight for some time, an extra pound gained or lost is a non-event. But when you're determined to slim down, every loss should be acknowledged. Building your confidence is key, and nothing is more inspiring than a positive trend.

But it's hard to go on numbers alone. Most of us get in shape because we want to look and feel different, and that's what other people notice, too.

This is why the first few pounds are always hard to shed. Only the scale seems to be aware of your effort. The mirror doesn't offer much encouragement in the first couple of weeks. And if you've made announcements, other people might wonder if you're even trying, a total downer if you catch on.

When you're out to lose weight the right way (the slow, methodical approach keeps it off), here are a few important things to remember:

Lost pounds are like money in the bank. You have to take the long view from the beginning. If you set a goal to save $200 a month, in the first 60 days you won't feel much wealthier. But if you give it 365, will you laugh at an extra $2,400? Two pounds a month might seem like too modest a goal, but what about 24 pounds in a year?

You're not sacrificing, you're investing. Let's keep rolling with the money theme. Don't lose weight -- instead, gain self-confidence, better health and self-esteem. Keep the tone positive at all times.

Remember, you've done this before. Maybe you haven't successfully slimmed down, but you've done many other things right, whether it was saving for a house, finding your job, finishing your degree or raising your kids. The idea that you can achieve other long-term goals, but not weight loss? It's fiction.

Respect your method. Even if it's different from one used by someone you respect. If you respond to tough self-love, go for it. If you have to be gentle, do that. But either way, acknowledge every measurable weight loss, even if you don't throw yourself a party over it.

Don't announce anything. When you broadcast your attempt to lose weight, you invite skepticism. Remember, at first no one else will be able to see your weight loss either. Keep it under wraps until you've hit the halfway point.

Keep it simple. Weight loss is simple; it's people who are complicated! Remember that your goal is a basic equation: calories in < calories out. Reduce your portion sizes, avoid processed foods, drink moderately and learn to prepare clean food. Clean food is not processed food. Have a free meal every week where you eat what you desire and don't punish yourself for slip ups.

When in doubt, move, move, move. Make it a challenge to find more ways to be active in your daily life. Take the easy pickings first. City dwellers: any idea how much money you can save by walking instead of taking cabs? Then let me know; I forgot to count it up.

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