Pitfalls to avoid as you try to lose weight

Published 1:08 pm Friday, January 10, 2020

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New Year’s resolutions run the gamut from the simple to the complex. Some people resolve to make small changes that don’t affect their daily lives all that much, while others aim to make significant changes in the hopes of dramatically improving their quality of life. Resolving to lose weight, which often tops annual lists of the most popular resolutions, falls into the latter category.

A 2018 survey from Cision and Varo Money found that 45% of respondents resolved to lose weight or get in shape in 2018. Unfortunately, various studies have found that resolutions often fall by the wayside long before people achieve their goals. In fact, a 2015 report from U.S. News indicated that 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. Such success rates, or lack thereof, might not be too big a deal for people who make silly resolutions that, successful or not, would not have too big an impact on their lives. But many people resolve to lose weight for serious reasons, such as lowering their risk for disease or improving their quality of life. In such instances, success can be a matter of life or death.

After resolving to lose weight, people might be derailed by some common pitfalls. Recognizing these pitfalls and learning how to avoid them can help people achieve their weight loss goals.

  • You’re not specific enough. Try not to be vague when setting your weight loss goals. Simply saying “I want to lose weight” likely won’t provide the motivation you need to achieve your goal. Speak with your physician and ask about how much weight you need to lose. Once you learn that number, work with your doctor and a personal trainer to set realistic goals. For example, if you need to lose 10 lbs., resolving to lose 1 pound per week for 10 weeks is a specific, realistic and healthy approach to weight loss. And by the end of that 10-week period, you likely will have grown accustomed to your new health routine, increasing the likelihood that you will keep it up even after you achieved your goal.
  • You try to save up your calories. The experts at Northwestern Medicine® note that many people think skipping a few meals per day will decrease their overall calorie intake. However, such an approach typically leads to overeating when you sit down for a meal or increased snacking throughout the day. In addition, skipping meals slows down your metabolism, adversely affecting how your body approaches burning calories.
  • You embrace a fad diet. Various studies examining an assortment of fad diets have indicated that such diets typically only produce short-term results, if any. Any weight lost while adhering to a fad diet is typically regained once dieters go off the diet. Instead of adopting a fad diet, work with your physician to devise a healthy, long-term eating plan.
  • You eat more than you think. Audra Wilson, RD, a clinical dietitian affiliated with Northwestern Medicine®, notes that people typically underestimate their calorie intake by 30%. Chances are, you’re consuming more calories than you think, even while you attempt to lose weight. Track the calories you consume each day so you can stay the course in regard to what your physician recommends.

Avoiding some common weight loss pitfalls can help people turn their resolution to drop some weight into a reality.