Action Guide to Weight-Loss Barriers
By the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic and Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H.
Authors of The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight.
Long term success with a weight program sometimes follows a bumpy, uneven path. Many obstacles can keep you from achieving a more healthy weight.
Learning to identify potential roadblocks and confront personal temptations is an important part of being successful in losing weight. To make it past the rough spots, it’s important to have strategies ready to guide your response as problems arise.
This easy-to-use action guide identifies common weight-loss barriers and practical strategies for overcoming them. If you find a strategy that helps you, include it with your weight-loss program.
The barriers are grouped into three categories: nutrition, physical activity and behaviors. To lose weight — and to maintain that weight loss — it’s important that you address all of these components.
I’ve tried to lose weight before, but it didn’t work. Now, I don’t have confidence that it’ll work this time.
For many people, losing weight will be one of life’s most difficult challenges. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve tried losing weight in the past and you weren’t able to — or you lost weight but gained it all back. Many people experiment with several different weight-loss plans before they find an approach that works.
Following these tips may help you succeed this time around.
* Think of losing weight as a positive experience, not a negative one. Approaching weight loss with a positive attitude will help you succeed.
* Set realistic expectations for yourself. Focus on behavioral changes and don’t focus too much on weight changes.
* Use problem-solving techniques. Write down the obstacles that you experienced in previous attempts to lose weight, and come up with strategies for dealing with those obstacles.
* Make small, not drastic, changes to your lifestyle. Adjustments that are too intense or vigorous can make you uncomfortable and cause you to give up.
* Accept the fact that you’ll have setbacks. Believe in yourself. Instead of giving up entirely, simply start fresh the next day.
I eat when I’m stressed, depressed or bored.
Sometimes your most intense longings for food happen right when you’re at your weakest emotional points. Many people turn to food for comfort — be it consciously or unconsciously — when they’re dealing with difficult problems or looking for something to distract their minds.
To help keep food out of your mood, try these suggestions.
* Try to distract yourself from eating by calling a friend, running an errand or going for a walk. When you can focus your mind on something else, the food cravings quickly go away.
* Don’t keep comfort foods in the house. If you turn to high-fat, high-calorie foods whenever you’re upset or depressed, make an effort to get rid of them.
* Identify your mood. Often the urge to eat can be attributed to a specific mood and not to physical hunger.
* When you feel down, make an attempt to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, write down all of the positive qualities about yourself and what you plan to achieve by losing weight.
I have a hard time not eating when I’m watching television, a movie or a live sporting event.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with eating while watching a show, film or live event, but when you’re distracted, you tend to eat mindlessly — which typically translates into eating more than you intended to eat. If you’re unable to break this habit, at least make sure you’re munching on something low in calories.
Here are suggestions you might consider.
* If you’re at a theater or stadium, order a small bag of popcorn with no butter and work on it slowly.
* Eat something healthy before you leave home so that you’re not extremely hungry when you arrive.
* Drink water or a calorie-free beverage instead of having a snack.
* Try to reduce the amount of time that you spend watching television each day. Studies show that TV watching contributes to increased weight.
When I go to parties, I can’t resist all of the snacks and hors d’oeuvres.
In most social situations where food is involved, the key is to treat yourself to a few of your favorite hors d’oeuvres, in moderation. If you try to resist the food, your craving will only get stronger and harder to control. By following a few simple strategies, you can enjoy yourself without overeating.
Next time you step up to the hors d’oeuvre table, try these strategies.
* Make only one trip and be selective. Decide ahead of time how much you’ll eat and choose foods you really want.
* Treat yourself to one or two samples of high-calorie or fatty foods. Fill up on vegetables and fruits, if you can.
* Take only small portions. A taste may be all that you need to satisfy your craving.
* Nibble. If you eat slowly, you’ll likely eat less — but don’t nibble all night long.
* Don’t stand next to or sit near the hors d’oeuvre table. As the old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
* Eat something healthy before you arrive. If you arrive hungry, you’ll be more inclined to overeat.
I’m a late-night snacker.
Avoid eating late at night because loading up on calories right before bed only intensifies the challenge of not overeating. There’s less chance for you to be active and burn off those calories until next morning. It’s better to eat during the day so that your body has plenty of time to digest the food before you go to bed.
Here are suggestions if you often find yourself battling the late-night munchies.
* Make sure you eat three good meals during the day, including a good breakfast. This will help reduce the urge to snack late at night, simply because you won’t be so hungry.
* Don’t keep snack foods around the house that may tempt you. If you get late-night munchies, eat fruits, vegetables or other healthy snacks.
* Find something else to keep you busy in the hours before bedtime, such as listening to music or exercising. Your snacking may be more of a mindless habit than actual hunger.
When I lapse from my eating plan, it’s hard for me to get back on track.
Lapses happen. Many times a minor slip — a busy day when you couldn’t find the time to eat right or get exercise — leads to more slips. That doesn’t mean, though, that you’ve failed and all is lost. Instead of beating yourself up over a lapse, accept that you’re going to experience bumps along the way and put the incident behind you. Everyone has lapses. Think back to the initial steps you took when you first began your weight program and put them to use again to help you get back on track.
Here are suggestions to prevent a lapse from turning into a full-blown collapse.
* Convince yourself that lapses happen and that every day is a fresh opportunity to start over again.
* Guilt from the initial lapse often leads to more lapses. Being prepared for them and having a plan to deal with them is important to your success.
* Keep your response simple. Focus on the things that you know you can do and stick with them. Gradually add more healthy changes until you’re back on track.
* Open up an old food record and follow it. Use those meals like a menu to help get you back to a healthy eating routine.
The above is an excerpt from the book The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight., by the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic and Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Reprinted from The Mayo Clinic Diet, © 2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Good Books (www.GoodBooks.com). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
About Donald Hensrud, M.D.
Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine and a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. He is also an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. A specialist in nutrition and weight management, Dr. Hensrud advises individuals on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. He conducts research in weight management, and he writes and lectures widely on nutrition-related topics. He helped publish two award-winning Mayo Clinic cookbooks.
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy that the needs of the patient come first. Over 3,600 physicians and scientists and 50,000 allied staff work at Mayo, which has sites in Rochester, Minn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, Mayo Clinic treats more than 500,000 patients a year.
For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people.
For more information, please visit www.goodbooks.com/mayoclinicdiet.