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As you've probably figured out, winning at weight loss is about making long-lasting, life-altering change. Just like any sport or skill, you might start out a little rocky. Choosing healthy foods, trying different workouts, and finding the strategies that work for you will take a little practice. As you find your stride, those habits will get easier and you'll start knocking down more barriers that try to get in your way. Your momentum will start to build and you'll be ticking away at your weight loss goals one by one. Soon enough, you'll reach a fantastic tipping point when you feel a shift in the energy and really enter "the zone"—the stadium starts to flutter, the crowd starts to cheer! And you are winning at weight loss!

Whether you're focusing on your diet or hitting the gym, the commitment to long-term weight loss takes the mindset and mental stamina of a champion. You've got to have a supportive team and a great playbook to get on a winning streak. In this head-to-head match that lasts a lifetime, it's all about preparation. Your success will be determined by how well you set your strategy and play the game.

Read more: 7 Things that Separate Weight-Loss Winners & Losers

These days, protein is a powerful word. So powerful that more and more food companies are boasting about the protein content of their foods and manufacturing newer protein-rich products to meet our demands for the essential nutrient. Why? Ask the average person, and you'll hear that protein is important for your health and even helps with weight loss. Ask any fitness enthusiast or trainer, and he or she will likely tout protein's benefits for muscle building and recovery.

It's true that protein is good for us. But is more really better? How do you know how much you really need in order to reach your goals, whether weight loss, muscle building or otherwise? This article will answer those questions and more.

Protein Basics

Read more: How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

Sometimes when we miss a workout, we know full well that we are just making "the dog ate my homework" types of excuses that wouldn't fool anyone—not even you! But then there are the times when we have a valid reason for skipping a workout. Sometimes life really does get in the way. Sometimes you really do have to skip a workout, and don't need the extra guilt for doing so. You shouldn't beat yourself up for missing a day or even a week (or more) of workouts if you have a legitimate reason to opt out. But you should check in with yourself so you know whether it's a valid excuse or whether you should be a little tougher on yourself. To help you tell the difference, we've come up with a list of times you can totally pass on a workout—without feeling an ounce of guilt.

7 Justifiable Reasons to Miss a Workout

1. You just had a baby.

Read more: 7 Times It's OK to Skip a Workout

Some days, I am just in a mood. I don't know what you call it, maybe stressed, bored, lonely, angry, sad, anxious, or tired. I call it "getting into a funk." When it happens, I have allowed my circumstances to dictate my attitude and my thinking and then—bam! Before I know what hit me, I'm in a full-blown funk. While I like to exercise when a bad mood rises, others turn to unhealthy habits like emotional eating or smoking. When you're upset, stressed or otherwise not feeling like yourself, exercise—and the mood-enhancing endorphins it produces—can be the best thing for you. Don't you believe me?

Read more: Bust Your Bad Mood with Exercise

Stress happens. No matter how organized you are, how good your systems are, or how friendly your work and living environments are, stress can find a way to poke its ugly head in from time to time. What can you do? Turn to a convenient Stress Buster – a small, simple activity that clears your head and calms you down. When you feel a stress attack coming on, it's the perfect time to turn to one of these busters and kick that stress out the door.

Here are 7 of our favorite Stress Busters, but feel free to develop your own:

1. Take a walk

Want a break from the office? Does your house feel like an insane asylum? Slip out the door and let your feet take you somewhere. Not only will walking give you the opportunity to clear your head and take a break from that hectic situation, but it's great aerobic exercise, too.

2. Call a friend

Read more: 7 Simple Stress Busters

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