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11 Weight-Loss Habits to Steal from Colorado, America’s Slimmest State

Colorado is the slimmest state in the America, and you can join in on their healthy lifestyle. Here are some Colorado-inspired weight-loss strategies from James Hill, PhD, and Holly Wyatt, MD, from their book ‘State of Slim: Fix Your Metabolism and Drop 20 Pounds in 8 Weeks on the Colorado Diet.’

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Sneak in more steps

A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that Americans take an average of 5,500 steps a day. But in Colorado—the state with the lowest obesity rate—residents took an average 6,500 steps, while in Arkansas and Tennessee, which have some of the nation’s highest obesity rates, residents took 1,000 steps fewer than the national average. Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt suggest squeezing in more time on your feet by walking the dog or heading to the gym to keep your metabolism revved. Here are ways to lose weight through walking.

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Make your environment healthy

Instead of buying junk food at the grocery store, fill your fridge with fresh fruit and veggies so those become your go-to snacks. Also, staying active is easy when you’re near appealing parks, bike paths, and hiking areas—all of which are common in Colorado, Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt say. If you don’t have access to areas ideal for outdoor activities, try surrounding yourself with fit people. A Harvard University study found that people’s BMIs are usually similar to those of others in their social groups. Don’t break up with friends because you think they’re fat, but do make friends with people who stay active and eat healthy—you’ll probably pick up on their wholesome habits.  Here are more ideas on how to jump-start weight loss before you start a diet.

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Don’t see it as a chore

Coloradans have a healthy lifestyle because they enjoy it, not because they feel obligated to make healthy decisions, say Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt. Severely restricting your calories could be a short-term fix, but teaching yourself to actually enjoy wholesome meals will help you keep the weight off. Eventually, you’ll find yourself craving healthy snacks instead of junk food.

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Connect weight loss to a meaningful goal

Consider your deepest priority, whether it’s a successful career, a strong family life, or the ability to do what you want without wondering if you’re fit enough. Now think about the confidence and energy that losing weight will give you to achieve those goals. Reminding yourself of your big-picture plan will keep you motivated to work out and eat healthfully, Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt say.

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Keep it simple

Coloradans often consider themselves foodies, but instead of indulging in oily, fatty foods, they like fresh, simple ingredients, according to the book authors. Fresh foods are packed with flavor and nutrition, unlike the huge servings of fat, refined carbs, and sodium you’ll find in more processed meals, the authors say.

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Don’t skip breakfast

People who eat breakfast are typically skinnier than those who skip the morning meal, studies have shown. This might be because eating in the morning keeps you from getting hungry later in the day. Eat within an hour of waking up to make sure you don’t put it off so long that you skip entirely, Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt suggest. These are 17 breakfast mistakes you might make in the morning.

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Eat throughout the day

Instead of sticking to three square meals, eat six times a day, or every two to four hours. Replenishing often will help boost your energy, suppress hunger, and keep your insulin levels in check—all of which will aid your weight-loss goals—the authors say. On the other hand, these habits might slow down your metabolism.

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Measure portions

Studies have shown that people tend to eat more than they think, which means the calories they count aren’t accurate. To make sure you don’t overdo portion sizes, measure your food before you eat, Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt suggest. Eventually you might be able to eyeball portions as you learn what a serving size really looks like, but your safest bet is usually to double check each time. Check out these genius portion control tricks.

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Eat the right mix of protein and carbs

The Colorado Diet calls for eating a carb and a lean protein during every meal, along with as many vegetables as you’d like. For at least three out of six meals a day, use a veggie as your source of carbohydrates, the authors say. Here are signs you’re not eating enough protein.

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Eat healthy fats twice daily

Your metabolism needs fat to work properly, but it doesn’t take much to keep it performing at its best. Plus, cutting fat out completely will probably make you resent your diet (it’s the most overeaten nutrient) and demotivate you, Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt say. Twice a day, include a healthy unsaturated fat in your meal, but don’t overdo it—one study found that when people added more fat to their diets, they started eating overall more calories. These are signs you need more healthy fats in your diet.

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Stay positive

If you think you don’t have control over your weight-loss efforts or don’t have the ability to succeed, guess what? You probably won’t. Instead of complaining about everything you’re missing out on with a healthy lifestyle, remind yourself of why you’re grateful for your new habits, like boosting your energy or feeling confident in your favorite jeans. With more optimism, you’ll be more likely to keep your efforts going, the authors say. Read this for weight-loss secrets from around the world.

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Want to live like a Coloradan?

James O. Hill, PhD, is cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry and executive director of the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. Holly R. Wyatt, MD, is associate director of the Anschutz Center and a University of Colorado clinical researcher and physician. Both live in Denver. To read more about their Colorado Diet plan, pick up State of Slim: Fix Your Metabolism and Drop 20 Pounds in 8 Weeks on the Colorado Diet.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest