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Extreme Makeover Trainer's Weight Loss Tips

Chris Powell helps massively overweight people get fit—and stay that way. We asked Powell how the rest of us can drop 20 to 30 pounds and keep that weight off long-term.

What’s the very first step to successful weight loss?

Find one small thing that you can commit to changing today. It has to be something that is so attainable that you can fulfill it tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Then, over time, you commit to more.

Any favorite dieting tips?
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The mechanism for thirst is so weak that we confuse it for hunger. Drinking more water can cut your calorie intake in half.

Anything else?

Prepare and portion out your foods in advance. One of the best things you can do is buy a cooler and some Tupperware and carry your meals with you. When we step outside of our houses, we’re surrounded by junk food. You just don’t have the selection of foods you need to be healthy, so you’ve got to bring it with you.

What about exercise? What’s the best method for melting off the fat?

I love doing simple, classic bodybuilding lifts in three- month cycles, where you progressively build up the amount you’re lifting. As for cardio, I’m definitely an interval guy. We do 3-2-1 intervals, which I call “shredders”: three minutes of low intensity, two minutes of medium intensity, and one minute of all-out high intensity…3-2-1, 3-2-1, over and over.

What’s the biggest weight-loss mistake you see guys making?

Setting unattainable goals, without a doubt. Instead of focusing on big numbers, start small. Break whatever weight you want to lose down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals, and focus on meeting those goals first.

You follow people for up to a year on your show. How do you help them avoid yo-yoing up and down and gaining the weight back once they’ve lost it?

You’ve got to find some exercise you enjoy doing early on. The chances of sticking to your weight-loss program are 10 times better if you can find some sport—whether it’s boxing, MMA, rowing, running, even triathlons—something you truly love to do. At the same time, don’t look for instant gratification. These small victories are the first of many if you stick with it.

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