If what you want is permanent weight loss, then not only your behavior has to change – you have to change the way you think as well and avoid these seven bad diet mistakes.

Although there is a huge amount of weight loss information available, dieters make the same mistakes day in and day out. These are not the little mistakes, like eating a slice of pie that is not part of the diet plan, but the big errors that stop you losing the weight you want to shed. If you understand these mistakes and why you make them, you have a much better chance of developing the change in attitude that is the real key to permanent weight loss.

1. Thinking it has to be all or nothing

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The "All or nothing" dieter almost ensures failure from Day 1 by choosing an involved diet that is virtually impossible to maintain. After selecting the plan, these dieters go through the kitchen and grocery cupboard and dump anything that isn’t in line with the plan.

They do these because they’re aiming at perfection, and for a while they succeed – they are perfect dieters. Then something happens; they miss a step or a meal time or an ingredient – and that is enough to ruin the diet in the perfectionist’s eyes. It is the end of the diet. The failure is all too often followed by a quick visit to the store and the rapid replacement of everything that went into the garbage bin at the start. The result? The perfectionists regain all the weight they lost at the start of the diet, and probably put in on faster than they lost it.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you need to ask yourself whether you really are really after permanent weight loss – or do you just enjoy the process of losing a few pounds and then putting them right back on again.

Remember – if you want consistent weight loss, the secret is to make small changes to what you eat. You will lose weight more slowly – but the lost pounds will stay lost.

2. Thinking there’s no gain without pain

Do you look on your diet as a sacrifice? A tough time that you just have to endure? You completely avoid the foods you really like instead of learning to eat "bad foods" in moderation. With this attitude, even if you are on a great diet plan and do lose weight, the moment you slip and try one of the favorites you have avoided for so long, you are liable to spiral out of control and go on an eating binge.

Much better to make sure you have a little of everything (even chocolate!) in your diet, and learn to enjoy food in smaller quantities.

3. Thinking goals are set in concrete.

Of course you need to set goals when you decide on a plan to lose weight. But the goals need to be achievable and incremental. Write down your goals. Make them absolutely clear. And make them realistic. You may well have decided on an ideal weight, but unless you are only slightly overweight be cautious about setting the bar too high.

Maybe a realistic plan is to aim at losing, say, two pounds a week for the first four or five weeks, and then a pound a week after that until you reach your target weight. A more useful goal would be to lose two pounds per week for the first five weeks and then one pound per week after that.

And remember you won’t progress in a straight line. Track your progress. Accept that some weeks you’ll overshoot your target and some weeks you won’t make it. Remember that fluctuations are natural, but if you stick with it your chart will show you that you are making steady progress towards your final goal.

If you have been making these mistakes, do not worry. The most important point in dieting as in so many other things is to move on. Learn from your failures as well as your success and do not use a mistake as an excuse for giving up. The only way to achieve your goal permanently is to make a commitment to become a healthier person. Remember that eating normally includes eating more some days and less on others. Learn to enjoy food in moderation and you have every chance of avoiding these bad diet mistakes.

4. Thinking it’s your genes and not your jeans

You take a look in that great enemy of the beginning dieter, the mirror. What you see is your mother – and when you think that, you’re nothing thinking "hair" or "eyes" – you’re thinking "body". You’ve got your Mom’s body. She was overweight. You are overweight. There’s nothing you can do about it. It is just hereditary. Of course genes sometimes play a role in obesity. Members of a family may well have the same body type. But except in extreme cases, the key factor is a combination of what we eat and how much we exercise – calories in vs. calories out.

Just because there are some heavy people in your family doesn’t mean you have to share their fate. Even if family members are heavy, there are steps you can take so to make sure you don’t go the same way. Build muscle and boost your metabolism by working out and doing some strength training. Eating less and exercising more will help you counter any tendency towards weight gain your genes might be trying to foist on you.

5 Thinking it’s wrong to say NO.

We’ve all met her – the food pusher. Not quite as dangerous as a drug pusher – unless you are trying to diet. She pushes doughnuts on her fellow office workers. She makes cupcakes for the book group but she only nibbles the icing. She offers you the takeout menu although you’ve told her you’ve brought your own diet-oriented lunch.

These pushers are usually kind-hearted and well-meaning – but they just won’t take "no" as an answer. They can’t see that they are making your efforts to lose weight that much more difficult. You really only have two options – either learn how to say no in a way that sticks, or put some distance between yourself and the "pusher", whoever she may. Sometimes it’s tough to do, but it’s better for all concerned. You’ll be able to continue your weight loss diet without having to lose a friend.

6. Thinking it’s a good idea to skip a meal.

Just because you are on a diet, it is NOT a bonus if you skip a meal because you’re too busy to eat. Dieticians will tell you the only person you are fooling is yourself. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar level drops, which increases your desire for sweet foods. At some time during the day you’ll be desperate for a sugary snack – which will probably be more fattening than the meal you skipped. According to Weight Watchers, research has proven that women who miss breakfast actually eat more calories a day than those who don’t skip the meal.

7. Thinking short-term.

If your goal is permanent weight loss, you have to change your lifestyle. Starving yourself for short periods of time won’t work; you’ll give up because extremes are too difficult to sustain. The only real answer is a healthy and balanced diet that you can maintain.

As a quick rule of thumb, dieticians recommend that a woman should eat 1300-1500 calories a day if she wants to lose weight. If you cut back to 1000 calories a day you are much more likely to go on a periodic feeding binge because you are hungry.

But if your plan allows you more calories you will also be able to treat yourself a greater variety of foods, a greater variety of nutrients, and a the result will be a diet you can live with for as long as it takes – perhaps for the rest of your life.

Darrell writes for pleasure and builds websites for fun. You can visit his newest site at http://www.dvdlabelprinter.org if you’d like to find the best way to use a DVD label printer to organise and label a DVD or CD collection.

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