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Common Mistakes People Make When Starting a Weight Loss Program--And How to Avoid Them

Jan 2, 2013
I see it all the time: people come in with big plans and want to see instant changes in their bodies. The expectations of most people when they start a weight loss or exercise program are set too high and the amount of time in which they usually expect results are too unrealistic.

Weight loss programs are a dime a dozen. They have been plentiful for many, many years.  Most programs put advertisements out that promise big results in a few weeks.  People that sign up for these programs expect what they read, for example: 15 pounds in 15 days.  While the client is enthusiastic at first, after a few weeks, or even a few days, they do not see the results that were promised.  At this point, they typically give up.

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Diet programs expect this to happen.  That is how they make their money.  It is sad to see so many people fail.  They blame it on themselves, however it is not personal failure, the advertisements fail to be truthful.  The reality is that no quick weight loss program works long-term.  One might get results at first, but then most dieters get bored and give up. 

The same thing goes for physical fitness programs.   The average person in a physical fitness program expects a new body very quickly. Generally, this does not happen, unless the person can afford to do 3-5 hours of exercise a day.  We see celebrities in the news having new bodies very quickly. A celebrity can have a baby and be back to her pre-baby weight in a matter of weeks. But keep in mind that this is her livelihood and it's her job to look good, so she can put this time aside for lengthy workout programs and she has the money to invest in a personal chef or a food delivery program to assist her daily.

In my practice, my clients get motivated by these stories and want these results quickly.  For the rest of us who cannot afford such lifestyles, we need to take a more realistic long-term program.  Upon deciding to engage in a life changing experience such as diet and exercise, time is on your side. 

How long should one give themselves to achieve success?  There is only one answer to this question; this is a LIFELONG journey.  We simply cannot see this as a quick fix, and that we only need to loss the 10 pounds we put on since college.  We need to come to terms with a long lasting nutritional and physical program; one that is realistic and will last a lifetime.

Step One: Set your food goal.  Moderation not deprivation is a healthy goal.  Instead of saying, I will never eat brownies or white bread ever again, be realistic. Never having meatballs and spaghetti, garlic bread, chocolate, ice cream and every other American fast, sugary food, is so discouraging that anyone starting this way of thinking will definitely fail.  We do not have to go through life never having a piece of cake or a hero sandwich.  Cutting out the sugary, starchy foods and unsaturated fats is a goal that is a good beginning.  But this is a hard goal since those are the foods we all love.  However, with cutting these out of your diet first, the cravings for more sugary starchy foods diminish.

Step Two: Set your exercise goal. Choose an exercise that you can and will be able to fit into your life.  If it is just a 20 minute walk, 3 or 4 times a week to begin with, that's a great goal to get incorporated into your life. Making an appointment in your Blackberry to exercise is important.  If we do not make a time for this activity we will soon have every excuse to not do it.  The other way to start a life long change and an investment into a longer healthier life is to make an appointment with a weight loss expert or a weight watchers program.  Find a certified fitness trainer who will start you off with a sensible program.

Step Three: Commit to a life-long change in habits. This goal takes responsibility and determination. But it's worth it!


Barbara Crosby is a nationally known Nutritionist and Behavior Therapist specializing in weight loss and eating disorders. She is president and founder of The Motivational Center with offices in Valley Stream, NY and Manhattan. She earned an MS degree in Science and Nutrition at Adelphi University. She was a founder of the national Diet Center chain. Her clients include celebrities, media executives as well as fitness and medical professionals. For more than a decade she created and supervised the Diet and Nutrition departments at Equinox fitness clubs in New York City. Barbara has been interviewed and featured in national publications including Fitness, Bazaar Allure, GQ and Family Circle and has appeared on the Maury Povich Show, 60 Minutes and PBS specials. She is an executive member of the American Red Cross,  working on developing nutrition programs for the school systems. She has been working with Mindy Gorman, diet coach and founder of the Live Love and Laugh Skin Cancer Foundation, for 10 years. Barbara can be reached via email at motivatemepl@yahoo.com.

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