Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Food isn’t everything when it comes to weight control. Sure, excess food packs on the pounds, and a lack of food helps you shed them, so food plays an extremely important role. And you absolutely have to know how to eat better in order to lose weight and maintain a healthier weight for life.

But consider this point: Everyone eats, but not everyone becomes overweight from eating. Some people seem to live on junk food but never gain weight. So there must be something else to this weight stuff, right? Right. And that something else may have more to do with what’s happening in your mind than what’s happening on your plate.

If you’ve been on weight-loss diets before, one of your first steps at this point is to look back over your previous diets and see what worked and what didn’t. Focus on the time period when you started gaining back the weight you’d lost. What was going on? Why did you start overeating again? Or did you just stop going to the gym? Remembering what went wrong with your past diet plans helps prevent the same thing from happening again.

Even if this time is your first attempt at weight loss, read on, because it pays to be prepared for the challenges faced by most dieters. In the following sections, I discuss the roadblocks you may face, explain when and how to reassess your plan to be sure it continues to work for you, and give you tips for seeking extra help.

Working through challenges

What happens when you’re trying to stick to a low-cal diet and you find yourself in the midst of an office party or your parents’ 25th wedding anniversary celebration? One thing is for sure: You need a plan. For instance, you can bring a very light lunch the day of the office party and plan in advance to have a light dinner waiting at home. You can spend an extra 20 minutes at the gym the morning of the event.

You can find more ideas for dealing with special circumstances in Chapter 9, but remember that you’re not going to blow your diet with one evening of celebratory overeating. The best advice anyone can give you is simply to enjoy yourself, try not to go overboard, and get back on your plan the next day. Every day can’t be a party when you’re on a low-calorie plan to lose weight, but when you’re watching what you eat on a regular basis, you do have room in your calorie budget for occasional excess.

The challenges you face when you’re trying to lose weight also include the daily events in your life that trigger you to eat in response to your emotions or to eat when you’re not really hungry. The “cure” is to recognize and address these situations so you can eliminate eating triggers that have nothing to do with real hunger. Some of these triggers, such as boredom, loneliness, and anxiety, come from within you; others, such as dealing with an unpleasant work situation or an angry spouse, come from outside.

Regardless of where your overeating triggers come from, you have to figure out how to resist them before you can move on to a healthy weight. Otherwise, you’ll continue to turn to food whenever you’re coping with emotional situations. Chapter 9 discusses the many forms of emotional eating and offers solutions for dealing with trigger situations head on.

Assessing your progress from time to time

When you take the self-help approach to weight loss, you have to monitor yourself because you’re the only one who can do it. (If you have a diet buddy, then you can monitor each other; see Chapter 11 about finding a diet buddy.) Even with a diet buddy, self-monitoring is important. Basically, you’re both the dieter and the diet counselor. After you set up the diet plan, the dieter has to check in periodically with the diet counselor to make sure it’s working.
To self-monitor, stop occasionally and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you happy with your program?
  • Are you losing weight at a steady pace?
  • Are you reaching your short-term goals?
  • Is your support system working for you?
  • What can you do to improve your low-calorie lifestyle?
  • Does your food plan need revision?
  • What’s your next step?

Some of the tools you use to assess your diet include your scale (for weekly weigh-ins), your weight change chart (from Chapter 4), and any other logs and journals you use for keeping track of the food you eat, the calories you consume, the exercise you do, and any other information that may change as you progress from a low-calorie diet into a low-calorie lifestyle.

After you start your low-calorie plan, you can check out Chapter 7 for tips on reviewing your initial progress to make sure you’re taking your plan in the right direction to ultimately reach your goals. When you’ve reached your goal weight and begin a weight-maintenance phase, Chapter 10 is a great resource for advice on adjusting your food and exercise plans and making a lifelong habit of using the weight-control techniques that have worked for you.

Looking for help

Presumably, you bought (or borrowed) this book because you’re looking for help losing weight. Good idea! This book can help you figure out everything you need to know about losing weight and keeping the weight off. But that doesn’t mean you won’t, at some point, need additional help. Don’t worry; help is everywhere!

If you’re doing everything you know how to do to lose weight but you’re just not losing anything, then seek help. Your network of family and friends is the first place to start. Successful dieters have a solid support system in place to cheer them on and help them build and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Most people can’t do it alone.

At some point, you may want to look outside your immediate circle of family and friends for additional support and advice. Depending on what type of
help you need, you can look in the following places:

  • You can find local branches of commercial weight-loss centers in cities and towns throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Many hospitals have their own in-house weight-loss programs.
  • Some physicians specialize in weight control. Be sure to get a referral from someone you trust.
  • Peer-led groups such as Overeaters Anonymous meet in churches, clinics, and other community centers in most cities and towns.
  • A registered dietitian or state-certified nutritionist is qualified to help you formulate a weight-loss plan.
  • Psychologists who practice cognitive-behavioral therapy sometimes specialize in weight issues.

Chapter 11 provides more information about how to know when you need outside help and how to go about finding it. Chapter 17, which contains ten stories from men and women who’ve battled their own bulges in a variety of ways, may also be helpful.

If your eating behavior is out of control and you suspect you have a full-fledged eating disorder, you can find a list of eating disorder treatment programs at www.addictionresourceguide.com.

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