Quick question: Can you relate to any of the statements below?
If only … I could lose that last five pounds.
Why can't I … take off the baby weight?
How can I … stop eating when I'm stressed?
Where did all that … extra weight come from?
When did I … become fat?
And then, what follows are usually some "solutions."
If there are solutions, then why are current rates of obesity in our country alarmingly high? About two-thirds of Americans are currently overweight, and with that comes a huge list of chronic and expensive health problems like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
MORE: All About Diabetes
I'll let you in on a secret. These "solutions," though they may demonstrate that you're really trying and have good intentions, usually backfire and lead to something you're trying to avoid in the first place: even more weight gain.
You say: I'll skip breakfast and save the calories that way. I'm really not that hungry in the morning, and besides, who has the time?
Why it's a derailer: Skip breakfast and by mid-morning you're likely to be starving and will make up for the lost calories by eating more throughout the day. Studies show that regular breakfast eaters not only eat less throughout the day, but jump-start their metabolism early in the day after it's been relaxing on idle during the night.
Get back on track: Eating breakfast foods with fiber and protein (like whole-grain cereal, eggs or oatmeal) is likely to keep you fuller and curb your appetite, thus reducing your total calorie intake for the day.
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You say: I swear to give up any fattening foods that I enjoy, among them, but not limited to: chips, cookies, ice cream, cake, chocolate, potatoes, bread, pasta, pizza, fill-in-the-blank.
Why it's a derailer: Deprivation sets you up for craving the very food you are trying to avoid by making you think about it and miss it even more.
Get back on track: Allow yourself to indulge in your favorite thing once a day-but "indulge" does not mean "overeat." Savor a small amount of dark chocolate, one cookie or half a cup of low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt. Don't tempt yourself by leaving the package where you can see it: take a small serving, and then put it away-until tomorrow.
You say: I will eat only what I'm supposed to eat. I will eat what someone else tells me to eat to successfully lose weight. I will follow this plan even if I don't like it.
Why it's a derailer: Diets deprive us by eliminating certain foods-or sometimes even whole food groups. Think about it: there's the cabbage diet, the watermelon diet, the no-carbs diet, the all-carbs diet, the low-protein, no-protein, all-protein diet.
Get back on track: Realize that by being on a diet, you are also off a diet. And drastically cutting calories, instead of helping you lose, can instead slow your metabolism to a crawl and pack on the pounds. By focusing on feeding yourself, instead of starving yourself, you free your mind to stop searching for some kind of magic cure. Instead, you broaden your perceptions of the foods that qualify for healthy eating. And, if you give yourself choices, you will feel less deprived and much more fulfilled.
MORE: Stop Dieting and Start to Lose Weight