To Lose Weight, Use the Power of Three

Make three small changes to your diet and exercise habits and, after a month, they may well stick.

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My usual response to the question "How do I lose weight?" is "Eat less, exercise more, or do some combination of the two." That advice is short, sweet, and, my friends have told me, not particularly helpful. So from time to time I plan to pass on concrete tips or techniques that some people have found help them lose weight safely and intelligently (i.e., no cabbage soup diets). My current favorite comes from the totally excellent book Mindless Eating, by Cornell University's Brian Wansink, which looks at all the environmental cues you don't even realize are influencing how and what you eat.

In the book, he talks about a concept called "the power of three," which involves making three small changes in your eating patterns and keeping them up for a month, by which time they're far more likely to have become a habit. I'm expanding that to exercise, too. The beauty of the idea is that you can pick things that fit your lifestyle, needs and weaknesses.

Here are mine:

1. Walk the dog for 30 minutes every day at lunch.

2. Eat a smaller but nutritionally balanced breakfast, now that I'm not riding my bike for two hours in the mornings.

3. Restrict the daily cookie ration to after dinner only.

Share your three!