6 Weight Loss Obstacles to Avoid

Experts offer a road map to success to help you steer clear of dieting pitfalls.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You've mustered your resolve, and this time you're sure: You're going to stay on your diet no matter what!

But a few weeks or a few months later, you find yourself weakening. A nibble here, a nosh there, and before you know it, your healthy eating plan is history.

If this has happened to you, there's no need to beat yourself up. In fact, says psychologist and weight loss expert Warren Huberman, PhD, it's more common than not for dieters to derail.

"Every diet and every dieter is different, but yes, there are some specific pitfalls that befall almost every dieter at some point in their weight loss experience," says Huberman, a psychologist at the New York University Surgical Weight Loss Center in New York.

The good news: If you know where the pitfalls are, you can steer clear of them -- or at least be prepared so they don't throw you too far off course. Huberman and several other weight loss experts helped WebMD map out your route to dieting success -- and red-flag those pitfalls along the way.

Your Road Map to Dieting Success

1. Anticipate a Long Trip

Packing for a weekend excursion is a whole lot different than packing for a two-year journey. And the same philosophy holds true for dieting, experts say.

"You can't address a long-term problem like obesity with a short-term solution, and if you try you're almost guaranteed to fail," says Huberman.

Find an eating plan you can live with long-term, and Huberman says you've automatically eliminated one of a dieter's major pitfalls.

Adds Huberman: "If your weight loss plan makes room for some of the foods you like, if it allows for occasional 'cheating,' if it's a plan you can live with for the long haul, then you are a lot more likely to stay with it, and a lot less likely to get lost along the way."

2. Pack a Lunch

Remember when your family took summer road trips, and Mom packed a box lunch so you wouldn't have to buy food along the way? Well, experts say, the same idea works on your weight loss journey. Planning your meals ahead of time helps you avoid another dieting pitfall: spontaneous eating, says nutritionist Loren Pascal, RD.

"No matter how great your diet plan is, sticking with it will be a lot easier if you sit down at least once a week and consciously plan your meals for the next seven days, complete with shopping lists," says Pascal, nutrition coordinator at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

And the more your weight loss eating plan differs from what you've been used to eating, the more important it becomes to plan your meals, Pascal says.

Washington, nutrition expert Jessica Adler, RD agrees, and suggests you cook healthy meals ahead of time as often as possible.

"Instead of depending on fast food to get you through your busy schedule, pre-cook healthy foods and have them around," says Adler, a dietician at LiveHealtheir.com. When healthy meals are at arm's reach, she says, you're more likely to reach for them instead of foods that will steer you off track.

3. Don't Forget to Refuel

Does your car run on empty? Of course not! And neither do you. But, experts say, a major dieting pitfall is thinking that you can.

"Decreasing your caloric intake is not a bad thing -- restricting your calories too low can cause trouble," says Adler.

When you don't get enough calories, she says, your body retaliates. Instead of losing fat, you're more likely to lose muscle -- plus, you don't have enough energy to get you through the day.

Further, says Stephen Schnur, MD, when you skip meals you often end up eating more -- not less -- by day's end.

"Small meals at regular intervals are better and can help you withstand temptation," says Schnur author of The Reality Diet: Lose the Pounds for Good With a Cardiologist's Simple, Healthy Eating Plan.

It's especially important for dieters never to skip breakfast, he says.

"Research consistently shows that people who eat breakfast actually eat fewer calories per day and lose weight more successfully than those who do not," says Schnur.

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