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Overcoming Weight-Loss Barriers

Certain barriers to weight loss are easy to change. Doing your part from a lifestyle point of view can work wonders. In fact, sometimes making only one change can assist you in shedding pounds.

Enjoy Your Beauty Rest

Are you getting enough vitamin ZZZZ? You need adequate sleep. If you're deprived of sleep regularly, you'll struggle to reach your ideal size. Remember the saying “If you snooze, you lose”? Well, hooray! With weight loss, it's true! Research has shown that if you don't snooze, you gain.

Figuring out how much sleep you need is the question. You require basically the same amount of sleep per night every night. Chances are, the amount you need has remained fairly constant throughout most of your life. You probably need somewhere between six and nine hours of sleep every night.

Don't fret if your sleep needs are on the high end. It's not a “badge of honor” to get by on less sleep. This “getting by” attitude is fattening. During sleep, your body relaxes and releases fat. Without enough sleep, your body's cortisol levels climb and your stress levels are higher, making your body hoard fat.

Plan your life so that you get the sleep your body requires. Yes, some nights you won't get enough sleep, but make them infrequent. Remember, those thin jeans are going to feel so good when they finally fit.

Too Much Fight-or-Flight Adds Pounds

Living a life of continual high stress keeps you fat and can actually increase your weight. Adrenaline is our friend when we need it for emergencies, but it was never intended to be tapped on a day-to-day basis to deal with traffic, anxiety, work-related issues, and deadlines. If you live with stressful deadlines, a high-stress job, a frantic daily commute, and so forth, losing weight will be an uphill battle … and another source of stress!

Your best choice for dealing with continual stress is to schedule time periods when you simply relax. Don't run errands, paint the bedroom, or clean out the garage. Instead, snuggle on the sofa with a good read. Rent funny movies and enjoy some laughs. Give yourself the luxury of really resting, and by the next morning, you may just find that your jeans are looser.

Here's another example: ever wonder why you sometimes lose weight on vacation? It could be that your body is off the adrenaline rush long enough to release fat stores it doesn't need. If you vacation infrequently, make a habit of taking a whole day off whenever you can. Then do nothing productive. Amazing, isn't it? Thin and lazy sometimes go together!

The Dark Side of Caffeine


If you change your morning coffee ritual, you may find yourself getting thinner. Have breakfast with your wake-up cup of coffee. Include some protein, even if it's dinner leftovers. You'll love the results.

A good cup of coffee is certainly a delight and, for some people, is pretty much a necessity for getting the day started. Perhaps you even drink a cup or two mid-afternoon to perk up from an energy slump. The same could be said for tea, caffeinated soda, and diet sodas. Caffeine is tricky. It can prevent you from losing weight and can contribute to weight gain.

How can this be? Caffeine has no calories. But calories are not the only factor in weight loss. Caffeine stimulates the pancreas to, in a sense, overproduce insulin. Insulin is one of your hormones that cause your body to store fat.

Does this mean you should never have a cup of coffee again? Not really. You don't need to give up caffeine, but you could benefit by changing the way you drink caffeinated beverages. The simple rule of thumb is this: have your caffeinated beverage with a meal, not before a meal or all by itself. (By the way, putting cream and sugar in coffee or tea does not count as a meal.) By having food with your beverage, the insulin is not overproduced; it's more balanced.

It is also perfectly fine to give up caffeine entirely. Plenty of people do. They seem to function fine, although their caffeinated friends find this hard to believe. If you want to get off coffee or caffeine, you can wean yourself off slowly or go “cold turkey.” In either case, expect to be physically uncomfortable for a while. The most common reactions are lethargy and headaches. They go away after several days to a week.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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