01/07/2013 11:20 am ET Updated Mar 09, 2013

How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever

It is a new year, and the cry to get back in shape is heard around the world. But there are many out there that don't believe it can happen for them.

For one-third of my life, I thought that too. I was obese, weighing 50 more pounds than I do now. I had tried every diet around, losing and then gaining the weight back, over and over again. Nothing worked for the long haul. I believed that a thin body was for someone else, not me.

I don't believe that anymore. I am here to tell you good news. I have been maintaining more than a 50-pound weight loss for several decades now. I have not only lost the weight and kept it off successfully, but I can go through the ups and downs of life without hurting myself with food. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

What created the change? How did I do it?

Here are some of the things I've learned through the years. I offer them in the hope that they will inspire you to know that dramatic change is possible.

Become aware of why you overeat.
Whenever I felt uncomfortable, I stuffed myself. I was eating for all the wrong reasons. Food is not my friend, lover, or confidant. Keep a log of times when you eat not because you're hungry. Food is simply nourishment, nothing more, nothing less.

Realize you can't do it alone.
Changing a destructive habit isn't easy. Even if you make strides, to sustain it under the stresses of life is nearly impossible. There are so many groups out there that can help, such as 12-step programs. It is crucial to get support.

Adapt a new mindset, even if you don't believe it.
So many of us feel that just because we have fallen off the wagon, we will never be able to get back on. "If I've tried one type of support group years ago and 'failed,' why try it again?" Do it, because this time it may work.

Act as if it is possible.
Someone said to me years ago, "Helene, treat this day as if it is the first day of your life." I acted as if I believed that even when I didn't and it helped me take the next right action. And then I took another and another. All you need is a little bit of willingness.

You are worthy of looking and feeling great.
Ask yourself these questions: Why not you? Don't you deserve to live a good life? Aren't you disgusted doing the same things and getting the same results? It is time to take a leap of faith and open your heart to something new happening. I wish that for you.

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