Packaged and processed foods have high sodium, sugar, artificial preservatives and coloring, and fat content. You are more likely to lose weight if you eat natural, organic foods that are fresh. Don’t just think about it. Go out and do it, now!

Actively choose good sources of fat. This may sound counterintuitive — shouldn’t you AVOID as much fat as possible when dieting? Well, no. You have to consume some fat, just don’t go overboard, and choose the best kinds. Avoid trans fats, partially and hydrogenated oils, bacon or any processed meats, especially canned, but deli and supermarket meats too, which are preserved with dangerous, cancer causing nitrite and nitrate preservatives, whole milk, coconut oils, etc. Instead, make use of olive oil (virgin) and fatty fish (for the omega 3 fatty acids).

Peanut butter has interesting qualities. It used to be in the same category as the “bad” fats. Most commercial brands belong there, packing saturated fat as well as artery-clogging trans fatty acids. However, there are many organic peanut butter brands hitting the market that use healthier oils and processing techniques.

A handful of peanuts once in a while when dieting can help keep energy levels up while reducing hunger and not putting on extra weight. Peanuts are very filling, and make a great snack because they are high in protein, fiber, with some antioxidants too.

Stop overeating at meals and going to all you can eat buffets to see what a great deal you can get for your money. In order to keep an even level of blood sugar throughout the day, increase your metabolism, control your hunger and lose weight, you have to eat small, balanced, nutritious, high fiber meals.

5. Get serious about weight/strength training. When you diet, you’re in danger of losing muscle mass as well as fat. Muscle helps keep your metabolism high and burns more resting calories. To prevent this, keeping pumping iron (women too), and do it regularly, at least 3 times a week with a day off in between workouts.

Ladies, don’t be afraid. You’re NOT going to build bulky muscles unless you really try to. For a slimmer, more “cut” or “defined” look, lift lighter weights with a higher number of repetitions per set — about 12 – 20 or more. Don’t lift really heavy weights unless you want to bulk up on muscle.

6. Avoid too much alcohol. During barbeque season this can be tough when your friends crack open the ice-cold beers. If you associate with other health nuts, at least you won’t be the only person sipping water or juice! Don’t go overboard and let the do-gooders scare you. A couple of drinks a day is fine, and the evidence suggests,  good for you.

7. Do cardio in moderation. 45 mins of jogging or swimming every day is a good way to boost metabolism. 2 hours is not as good, since you’re going to start losing muscle mass, which you don’t want. When and how much you decide to exercise depends upon your individual inclinations, capacity and age, but cardio sessions over 1 hour in duration can be counter-productive. If you really love it, split your routine and do one session in the morning and one in the evening. Also, try and stay in the 65%-70% heart rate zone for optimal weight loss.

8. Allow yourself “cheating” days to keep your motivation and sanity. Dieting is usually not much fun, so don’t make it even worse for yourself. No matter how motivated you are when you begin your diet, there will be days when your get frustrated and want to quit. Make sure to give yourself a special treat once or twice a week, which gives you something to look forward to. The idea of dieting is not to remove all pleasure from your life. A juicy steak is fatty and high in calories, but adding extra cardio routines for a few days before and after your feast will allow you to meet you calorie goals for the week.

Don’t forget, pleasure is a part of life too. Let yourself feel it, and stop beating yourself up all the time with guilt. You are not a “loser” because you are overweight. It is quite common, and you are beautiful anyway. The idea is to become more healthy, not look like a movie star.