lose 5 pounds in 5 minutes a dayAre you dieting? If so, you're not alone. Millions of others are right there with you. For the most part, people diet to lose weight. The weight was likely gained through a combination of eating too much of the wrong foods, and probably not exercising enough. Nothing new there. Although, after having worked in the fitness industry for as long as I have, I've seen plenty of people vigorously exercise their eyes out day in and day out only the see modest change on the scale, if that. I'm not saying that exercise doesn't help with weight loss - it can...and it certainly helps keep your body healthy. But the bigger part of the picture when it comes to weight loss should be on what you put in your mouth.

The difference between a healthy diet and an unhealthy diet comes down to one word: HABITS

Habits are critical to our longevity. Unfortunately, unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking and consuming sugar can be addictive. Healthy habits, on the other hand, like exercising, drinking water all day and eating vegetables, are often fleeting.

That said, creating and maintaining healthy habits is the absolute key to never dieting again. Ever.

In a few weeks I'll be turning 40. I have to admit that I half-heartedly believed that once you hit (or come close to) 40, everything slows down and your body starts to fall apart. In actuality, that's only partially true. Everything doesn't slow down, but your body's human growth hormone production (HGH) continues to diminish, which makes it harder to maintain or develop new muscle. One great way around this is to do interval exercises. Yes, you can actually increase your HGH, albeit temporarily, day after day with a little vigorous activity. And when I say "little," I mean little. Twenty minutes, or so, or vigorous exercise every day is all it takes. Our body's don't necessarily fall apart when the clock strikes midnight on the eve of a new birthday, either. If you eat right and sleep enough, you body will pay you back by staying strong and injury free. This is largely dependent on lifestyle and diet.

No More Dieting
The path to a diet-free life is different for everyone. We all have different habits. Below are a few common dietary habits people fall prey to. It can seem tough to break these habits, but if you can commit for three days (just 72 hours), things will become much, much easier!

If you can identify with any of these habits, choose three to stick with for a few days. Don't give up at that point, but prove to yourself that you can do it...and you can! Once you clean up 3 habits, go for three more. You'll start seeing results on the scale and with you're overall health in no time.

Bad Habits to Break

  • I skip breakfast | eat breakfast
  • I don't enough water (half my weight in ounces) | drink water
  • I go more than three hours in between meals or snacks | eat regularly
  • I go back for seconds, even if I feel full | don't eat to capacity
  • I don't eat vegetables daily | eat veggies in 2 meals a day
  • I eat sugar foods often, even fruit | limit sugar to 13 grams or less per serving no more than 2 x /day
  • I love salty foods and reach for chips and other savories when I know I shouldn't | ease off the salty snacks 
  • I drink diet soda every day | absolutely cut out diet sodas
  • I drink more than three alcoholic beverages a week | limit adult beverages to 3 x /wee
  • I go all day without eating, then splurge at night  | eat all day long, about every 3 hours
  • Some of the food I eat has aspartame, sucralose, Ace-K or high fructose corn syrup on the label | avoid artificially sweetened food
  • I get less than six hours of sleep a day | sleep helps your body repair & boosts metabolism
  • I often eat off my kids' plates | leave the mac-n-cheese, dino nuggets and pieces of cheese on their plate
  • I eat as low fat as possible | fat helps keep you fuller. Eat healthy fats with every meal. A little goes a long way.

3 Habits for 3 Days
This list could go on and on, but it's a start. Identify three (3) habits you'd like to change and do it! It's that simple. Once you're over the three day hump, it will be smooth sailing.

About Traci
Traci is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show, Dr Oz, SHAPE, Oprah.com and HuffPost Live. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and wellness coaching, as well as private training. Contact Traci here.