In one of my favorite weight loss fantasies, I have a magic wand that I wave and POOF … my extra pounds disappear, never to return. Then, reality strikes. And in real life, slow and steady loses the weight. Slow and steady — which translates into safe and long lasting — means a reasonable goal is to drop 1-2 pounds a week.

We all know diet and regular exercise is the perfect weight loss combination. But, cramming a workout into my already packed schedule is a magic act I have yet to master. However, changing my diet just a little bit is totally in the realm of possibility. I bet it is for you, too.

Dreams Don't Work Unless You DoFine-tuning your eating habits can make a big difference in how much weight you lose. Each of the tiny changes below can help you lose up to 1 pound each month. Try them!

  • Say goodbye to soda. A 12-oz. can has 140 calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar. Yep, you read that right. Water sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it?
  • Don’t scream for ice cream. Slam the freezer door on your weekly pint habit.
  • Skip the whip. Order your daily coffee without the whipped cream.
  • Bypass the breadbasket. Sometimes the bread is the best part of dining out. But if you can resist the urge to splurge, you can lose half a pound in a month, especially if you eat out weekly.
  • Go meatless. Savoring a vegetarian meal just once a week can save some significant calories.
  • Ignore the extras. Cut back on condiments such as cheese, sour cream and salad dressing.

Along the way, remember to celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Did you ditch soda for an entire week? Shout it from the rooftop, or at least post it on your Facebook page and revel in the “likes” you get from people who are trying to do the same thing.

More importantly, be OK with getting off track. Life happens. The important thing is to hop back on and keep at it.

If your weight loss goals involve more than a few diet adjustments, we have nutritional counseling services available. Please ask your doctor for a referral. If you are considering weight-loss surgery, attend one of our Bariatric Surgery Informational Seminars.