Thursday, June 18, 2009

5 Sneaky Things Holding You Back: Little Fat Traps That Creep Up On You Behind Your Back

            You’re aggravated beyond belief. You’re doing everything you possibly can to lose weight and get in shape but the scale isn’t budging and you still can’t zip that pair of pants you’ve been trying to squeeze into. What’s wrong? Don’t worry, there is nothing seriously wrong with you. Actually, a few small tweaks to your daily life can make all the difference. Here are 5 sneaky things making you fat, and what to do to overcome them!

1.   Stress

The Problem:

Yup, you got that right. All the hustle-bustle and stressful thoughts filling your mind may be keeping you from loosing weight. Studies have shown that stress produces a hormone called cortisol, that may lead to weight gain when too much of it is produced.

Also, when we become stressed, many of us are inclined to crave certain foods-and a lot of them. Whether that’s French fries, donuts, or a big bowl of ice cream, many of us look to food to solve our problems. We’ve all heard of what emotional eating can do to our mind, and our bodies.

What to do About it:

Don’t worry, you aren’t doomed. First of all, try to take a breather once in a while and simply relax. Snuggle up with a magazine, read a book, take a walk or even a bubble bath. Do whatever you need to do to let yourself unwind.

And as for the uncontrollable cravings, learn to control yourself (and your mind) by adding more exercise to your schedule. Do anything you can to get moving, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk in the morning. This will do wonders for your body in the long run. Also, to let yourself relax even more, try taking a yoga class at your local gym, or practice meditation in your own home. Sometimes, this is all we need to add a little serenity to our lives.

2.   Trying to Save Money on Groceries

The Problem:

            With the economy not exactly going very well these days, people are doing everything they can to save money, even if that means ruining their diet. With prices going up, people are more inclined to buy cheap, bulk food like Mac and cheese or sodium-laded canned soups. Often, the cheapest foods are the most sabotaging to our diets, both high in fat and calories.

What to Do About it:

            Yes, things are more expensive these days. But a healthy diet is something you may want to consider splurging on. After all, it’s for you and only you. So what if the fresh grilled chicken at your local market is a few bucks more than the chicken sandwich at McDonald’s. Your body will be thanking you later (when the recession is over). And if you really don’t think you have enough money to spend on fresh, healthy food, maybe you need to reconsider if you reallllly need that manicure next week. Your body and health should be #1, right?

3.   Unhealthy Friends

The Problem:

            We all have those friends who are always egging you on to “Eat one more slice of pizza!” or “Skip the gym today, pllleeeasee.” Well, I’m sorry to say it, but these kinds of friends may be derailing your fat loss. Not only do many people tend to give into the peer pressure, but studies show that we are likely to mirror the habits and lifestyles as our close friends. That means, if your friends are lazy, fast food junkies, you may quickly turn into one too.

What to Do About it:

            No, I’m not going to tell you that you need to “break up” with your friends because of their unhealthy habits. But, you may need to let them know that you take your fitness and diet goals seriously, and that you’d like them to support you.

Or even better, try to get them to live a healthier lifestyle by hosting a healthy BBQ or signing up for a 5k together. If your friends don’t want to change, that’s fine. But maybe it’s time to separate time between your social friends from your healthy friends so that you can continue to achieve your goals.

4.   Not Getting Enough Zzz’s

The Problem:

With work and constant plans with friends and family, it’s easy to put your sleep on the back burner. But, that may not be the best idea for your body and your overall health. Studies show that inadequate sleep decreases our leptin hormone levels and increases our ghrelin hormones, which together work to increase appetite. (Yikes!) Also, not getting enough sleep can make you have a more stressful, cranky day, which we already know can’t be good (read above).

What to Do About it:

Try to get 8 hours of sleep every night for ultimate health benefits. Go to bed earlier if you have to wake up at the crack of dawn! You’ll feel so rejuvenated and your body will be thanking you. If you have enough time for everything else in your day, then you should make a little time for your snoozing.

5.   Your Chilly Apartment

The Problem:

I know it sounds silly, but some studies have shown that we eat more when we are cold. Something about the cold temperature makes promotes our brain to crave unhealthy foods.

What To Do About it:

            Lucky for you, summer is coming so get outside and enjoy the sun! Keep warm all day, by putting on more layers when your chilly or adding in extra bits of exercise, whether that’s a short jog or some fast-paced jumping-jacks!

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