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Top 5 Problems Encountered In Weight Loss, Part II

Updated on January 30, 2010

Problem #3: You Can't Keep Yourself from Eating the Whole Box

Psychologists call this the "what-the-hell" effect. It happens when you've started to change a poor habit, but then make a mistake. You have a Big Mac, and then think, "What the hell, I've already blown it. I might as well eat the fries too."

The same phenomenon occurs with exercise. You miss a workout or two, decide the whole thing is a loss, and throw in the towel entirely. But the idea that you've blown anything is false. You haven't failed if you eat something high calorie or miss a workout... you've just had a momentary lapse. Here's how to keep a brief tumble off the weight-loss wagon from turning into a colossal failure.

Save your pennies. Every time you do something right, put a penny in a big glass jar. If you pass on the doughnuts at work, for example, add a penny. Or for every walk on the treadmill add another penny. Then, when you have a slipup, put a penny in a different jar. Over time, you'll see that most of the time you're doing well. And, after all, it's the big picture that counts.

Don't overreact. After bingeing at your neighbor's dinner party, the worst thing you can do is starve yourself the next day. Yes, in theory it seems that it might compensate for all the calories you ate yesterday, but you're actually setting yourself up for another binge. The best strategy is simply to get back to your normal eating and exercise plan as soon as possible.

Give yourself a pep talk. A big part of changing your behavior is changing the way you think. Instead of berating yourself for eating a brownie or missing a workout, for example, be positive. Tell yourself, "Overall, I'm doing really well. And I'm making noticeable progress." It's the long-term, remember, that counts.

Problem #4: You Can't Stick with an Exercise Program

Going from a couch potato to walking, jogging or cycling almost daily is a big commitment. But you can do it if you avoid some common traps. Learn to love exercise and make it as regular as brushing your teeth.

Learn to crawl. Break your goal down into smaller, more manageable bits. I know one guy who started exercising for 5 minutes at a time. By feeling positive about it and patting himself on the back, he gradually worked his way up to walking marathons.

Play around. If you hate what you're doing and you can't wait to stop, then it's not the right kind of exercise for you. So pick three activities that interest you instead: kickboxing, maybe, or inline skating or swimming. Then try each one for at least a week. Chances are you'll like one and can have fun mastering it. If not, pick three more activities and try again.

Forget the sweat. If the thought of exercise brings to mind a vision of huffing and puffing and a sweat-drenched t-shirt, take a more moderate approach. You can burn loads of calories with less-strenuous activities. Try golf, walking, gardening or swing dancing.

Reward yourself. Changing bad habits is very hard work, so treat yourself for small accomplishments. Completed your walk everyday this week? Buy yourself that CD you've been wanting. Started a strength training program? Schedule yourself a massage. Even better; get your spouse involved and make it a couple's massage!

Double the fun. If you enjoy a good book, want to spend more time with your kids or meet friends regularly, make these part of your workout. Listen to books on tape while you use the treadmill. Take the kids hiking. Sign up for a sport with a friend. The added incentive will help make you a regular exerciser.

Problem #5: Your Spouse Keeps Bringing Home your Favorite Sweet Treat

Unsupportive family and friends can make weight loss even tougher, but that type of frontal assault is the exception, not the rule. More often, you'll face a more subtle sabotage: the sniping from people who resent your success. This sometimes happens if your new schedule means you have less time to spend with them. Here's how to get the support you need.

Start talking. You need to be frank about what you see happening and how it's affecting you. Often, the other person isn't even aware that they're sabotaging your efforts and doesn't understand that you need their support. Quite often, those who've never had to lose weight have no concept of how hard it is.

Compromise. If you're spending less time with friends because you're avoiding the coffeehouse that serves the double fudge cheesecake, suggest meeting someplace with fewer temptations. Or better yet, do something active together: Take an evening stroll or play sports.

Don't sermonize. Nothing is more annoying than a fresh convert, so spare your friends and family the diatribe. When you preach, you're putting yourself up on a holier-than-thou pedestal and people will only try to knock you down. Be proud of yourself, but don't try to convert everyone around you.

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