Why is Weight Loss So Difficult?

Let’s be honest – weight loss is no easy task. If it were, EVERYONE would be thin. It may be simple on paper but it’s challenging when it comes down to actually doing what it takes on a daily basis. At least for me it is. I’m a working mom approaching my forties, a certified personal trainer and registered dietitian. So I KNOW what to do – it’s a matter of actually doing it while raising kids, having a career, nurturing my marriage, paying the bills, doing the laundry, cooking the meals and the list goes on. Oh yeah, AND dealing with PMS every single month. Guys can’t relate; they don’t know how it feels to crave chocolate and salt-n-vinegar chips at the same time. It’s definitely a girl thing.  But that’s not to say weight loss is easy for guys. It’s just different, right ladies?drive thru

Regardless of your age or gender, weight loss is challenging for multiple reasons. But if we acknowledge the facts, have reliable information, understand what we’re working with and use effective tools, we CAN and WILL win with consistency and persistence. So let’s start by acknowledging the challenges:

Challenge #1 – Our biology is such that we eat even when we’re not hungry. The classic example is Thanksgiving – you still go for the pumpkin pie despite the fact that you’re so stuffed that you have to loosen your waistband. (Yes, I speak from experience.) Our biology worked well for our hunting and gathering ancestors who had to save calories when food was scarce and burn calories to find food, but nowadays, you can get absurd amounts of food 24/7 and you don’t need to move much to get it. “Mindless eating” has actually been validated by several scientific studies. We often eat and overeat without being aware of it. Myself included.

Challenge #2 – Our environment encourages “sedentary disease,” an emerging term used to describe a lifestyle with very little physical activity. See if this looks familiar:

  • Sitting while traveling to work – car, bus, train, subway, plane
  • Sitting while working
  • Sitting while traveling home from work
  • Sitting while getting and eating meals
  • Sitting during entertainment – TV, internet, movies, kids’ activities
  • Sitting while something or someone does your chores – washer, dryer, car wash, gardener

I can definitely identify with sedentary disease, and in order for me to maintain my weight, I have to manage the calories I take in. Period. Need some hard evidence? Check out the weight gain prevention study in the March 2010 issue of JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association).  This 13-year study demonstrated that women performing an hour of physical activity every day still gained weight over time. Translation – you have to reduce calories to prevent weight gain.

Challenge #3 – Most people are unaware of how much food and calories their body needs to maintain their weight. I understand that life is hectic and sometimes stressful. But if you don’t pay attention, what you don’t know WILL hurt you. Most Americans are overweight and experts predict obesity will continue to rise. Excess weight means you’re more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and more. Plus, you can’t be your best if you’re not healthy. And if you can’t be your best, you’re cheating yourself, your loved ones and ultimately all of humankind. No one gains weight on purpose – it happens slowly over time and most people miss it until it becomes a major issue.

Look for Part 2 with our solution later in the week. In the meantime, think about how these challenges affect you and what kinds of little changes you could make in your life to counter them.  For example, as much as a certain fast food chain doesn’t want you to do this, eliminate “fourth meal” from your day. Or do something simple like get more steps in by parking your car as far away from your destination as you can.

To be continued . . .

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