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Seven Pitfalls That Cripple Weight Loss

Do you struggle to maintain or lose weight? If so, you are certainly not alone. Obesity is on the rise and becoming an epidemic in our society. Why are so many people overweight? Can we blame our genetics? Are we are plagued by a slow metabolism? Certainly, we can't be the victims of our own self indulgence, can we?

I advise people that losing weight is like starting a new business. It takes careful planning, proper public promotion, consultation with the appropriate experts to set up the structure of the program, and most importantly, a tireless dedication to finish the task despite the guaranteed peaks and valleys along the way. Unfortunately, much of our society expects rapid results, and once they realize the flaw in a fad diet or quick fix, they become frustrated and look for the next overnight solution.

Let me point out the following critical challenges that often block weight loss success for many clients. The list below identifies seven major reasons people fail to attain their desired weight.

1) Unrealistic expectations - As mentioned earlier, people are impatient and want instant gratification. Often, clients are motivated by special events, such as weddings, reunions, or office bets with peers. Once the event passes, the desire to maintain change is lost, or the person may miss the deadline altogether. The answer is to set realistic goals for losing 1-2 pounds per week, understanding that it takes time and you may not lose weight every week. Be patient and work hard.

2) Scale obsession - How many of you get on the scale every morning? Weight will fluctuate by 1-3 pounds at times based on water retention, dehydration, and of course too much overindulgence. Gradual weight loss is best, and those who don't see positive change each time they get on the scale often get frustrated easily. I recommend weighing yourself once per week on the same scale, on the same day, and at the same time of day to ensure accuracy and reliability. This might be tough, but it will disappoint less and provide a clearer picture of your progress.

3) Skipping breakfast - You probably have heard that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." This is true because it kick starts your metabolism, provides fuel for activity, and also reduces the urge to eat unhealthy snacks before lunch. If you are rushed in the morning, buy healthy items such as fruit, yogurt, granola bars or cereal bars that can easily be consumed on the way to work or at your desk.

4) Failing to pack your lunch - I firmly believe that packing a healthy lunch on a regular basis is essential to avoiding weight gain. If you don't, it becomes that much easier to grab fast food with co-workers or order in fare that is high in calories, hydrogenated fats, and sodium. You also have a higher probability of having desert when eating out.

5) Eating too few meals per day - Yes, it's true that you should eat 5-7 times per day, but the portion sizes must be appropriate. Eating every 2-3 hours will prevent significant hunger pangs and eating binges. More importantly, it speeds metabolism and caloric burning throughout the day.

6) Poor grocery shopping - I stick to the mantra of "If it's not in the house, you can't eat it." Always prepare a list of foods before going to the store, and never go shopping when you are hungry. This strategy will help eliminate unhealthy temptations and stumbling blocks.

7) Not drinking enough water - Drinking water helps our muscles maintain cellular volume and flushes our system of waste products. It also prevents dehydration and excess water retention (water weight).

Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS, is a respected author, physical therapist and fitness expert. You can sign-up for his free online newsletter @

Copyright © 2004 Brian Schiff. This article was first published in Business First Columbus, Ohio in 2004.


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