In my travels giving workshops and interviews about the psychology of eating and weight management, I find that most people know that dieting doesn’t work.  But, many think that they have no other alternative. Or maybe they’ve heard about making lifestyle changes for permanent weight control, but they don’t know exactly what that means.

Most everyone I speak with also knows about the many health consequences of obesity — heart disease, cancer, diabetes, joint pain, breathing problems to name a few. But many lose sight of the fact that it’s never too late to enjoy the benefits that come with losing the extra pounds. Not only can you improve your health, you also can address those so-called inevitable problems of aging, such as poor posture, painful joints and decreased mobility.

But, in order to enjoy that kind of future, you have to develop and maintain a lifestyle of health, which includes managing a healthy weight.

As we approach a new year, here are what I know to be the five best things you can do to manage your weight in 2015 — and beyond:
Kick the fad or rigid diet habit and embrace whole foods.

Don’t give control over what you eat to someone or something (like the fast food industry) that doesn’t have your best interests in mind.  You are the only person who can best take care of you.  If rigid diets and processed foods could help you lose weight, they would have done so by now. Let them go forever and get down to the business of eating real food that looks good and is packed with health benefits.
Strive to manage your weight for the sake of your health, not your appearance. 

If health is your focus, you’ll want to exercise and eat well all the time, not just for some special occasion.  So set your sights on health and it will remain an incentive that will last a lifetime.  In addition, by doing so, you’ll look your best at any age.
Manage chronic stress.

Stress will be around all your life.  It affects your weight, your health, and, consequently, how you age.  So learning to manage it has far-reaching benefits.  Discover where your chronic stress is coming from.  Is it your insistence that there be perfection in your life?  Perhaps you’re in a toxic relationship with someone that’s affecting your health and happiness? Are you trying to do too much?  Zero in on the killer stressors and make changes.
Banish negative, all-or-nothing thinking.

Successful weight management requires a mentality that’s flexible so that you can problem-solve when those inevitable stumbling blocks come along.  It requires a mentality that’s accepting so that when you make a mistake you can move on without piling on the guilt.  It requires a mentality of hope so that you don’t get bogged down by frustrations.  And it requires a light and positive approach to life so that you can get enjoyment out of each small achievement along the way, rather than postponing pleasure until you reach some far-off goal. Those small victories will  help you stay motivated.
Make yourself your priority. 

People tend to behave in ways that are consistent with their self-image.  So, a person who doesn’t believe they matter is likely to put themselves low on their list of priorities – maybe even below the laundry.  No matter how much you want to lose weight, putting yourself last means you won’t take all the steps needed to reach your goal.

Make 2015 a year of personal growth and increased health. You are worth the effort and those who love you think so too. May you have a very happy and healthy new year.

Previously published in The Tampa Bay Times