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MAINTAINING THE VIRGIN DIET FOR LIFE IN CYCLE 3

Continue assembling meals as before, using the Virgin Diet Plate and focusing on clean, lean protein; healthy fats; high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs; and nonstarchy vegetables.

At least 95 percent of the time, avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, corn, soy and peanuts.

If you can tolerate them, include healthy forms of eggs and dairy based on how you did in Cycle 2: If you had no reaction, you can eat them every other day. If you had a reaction by the fourth day, you can eat them every 4 days. If you reacted immediately, leave them out for at least 3 months.

Follow the Golden Rules of Meal Timing (see pages 172–173).

Substitute 1 meal each day with a Virgin Diet Shake (see page 170).

Stay hydrated.

Move more and do real exercise (see pages 225–235).

Get 7 to 9 hours of high-quality sleep each night.

Devote at least 15 minutes per day to your own personal bliss.

PLANNING: THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS

Have you ever heard the old saying “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? In my experience, that is true in every area of your life — and nowhere more than when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. The rates of weight regain after a typical diet are anywhere from 50 to 95 percent depending on the research being cited.

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 And friends, we will not be part of those statistics, deal?

Let's face it, when you're starting a new diet, even a challenging one, you have lots of motivation to follow the program. On the Virgin Diet, you might have had trouble pulling out some of your standby foods or subbing in healthy choices for unhealthy ones, but there's something about the newness of it all that can keep you going. It's like dating an exciting new person: you don't necessarily know where things are going, but you're willing to put in that extra effort to dress nicely, stay groomed and figure out fun things to do together.

Then, you get into a steady relationship or even get married, and suddenly, all of that effort goes out the window. Now you don't always bother to shave, dress up or plan romantic evenings. Now you're just hanging out in your sweats in front of the TV. Then you wonder where the magic has gone.

It's the same thing with the Virgin Diet. As we just saw, you need to plan in some rewards to keep things new and fresh. But you also need to plan for the daily stuff because this is something that you're going to be doing for life. So let's figure out how.

Are you bringing food to work each day so you can eat healthy and avoid the vending machine or coffee bar? How do you build in time to get that food together every single day so you're never tempted to skip when you're running late? Maybe there's a way you can get everything together Sunday night, or maybe you can combine watching a favorite TV program with putting together the next day's food. Think about it. Build it in.

What about shopping? When have you built that into your schedule? How can you make sure to never run out of the things you need to stay on the program? If you've got to drive across town to find the coconut milk, how do you make sure to allow that time so you don't end up just throwing in some regular milk from the convenience store? Is there a way that you can order some things you need online? Is there a friend or neighbor or someone at work who is also doing the Virgin Diet who can take turns with you in getting some of the hard-to-find items? Get creative. There are always new ways to solve problems once you're open to finding them.

Are there particular pitfalls that you know are going to be tough for you: Sunday family dinners, holiday parties or a day at the amusement park with your kids? These kinds of things are never total surprises — you pretty much know they're going to happen sometime. What can you do now to get ready for them when they do? One of my clients keeps a stash of turkey jerky, raw nuts and apples on hand. If she finds out that she's going to be away from home all day, she throws some of her high-protein snacks into some zip-lock plastic bags and grabs an apple. Now she's set, no matter what happens that day. Because she plans ahead and keeps everything well stocked at home, she never has to worry about missing a meal or eating the wrong foods on the road.

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