Q: "What are the biggest weight-loss traps for women (and how can I avoid them?)"
A: The biggest weight loss trap that I see with women is their overall approach and mentality for weight loss. Most of the women that I consult with restrict their calories too much too soon. For long-term weight-loss success, the focus needs to be shifted away from restricting and shifted towards doing. Here are two examples:
1. Don't focus on the foods that you can't eat.
Instead of placing your focus on the foods that you can't eat, focus on the foods that you can eat. By focusing on new and interesting ways to eat more vegetables, berries, and lean protein sources, you will displace the processed and refined sugar containing foods in your diet, leading to a relatively painless reduction in calories without having to constantly play the "I can't have that. Don't eat that. Just eat a little because too much will make you fat" soundtrack in your mind. Clean foods are innately more satisfying and less calorie dense than processed, boxed, and overly sugared foods, allowing you to eat more food, while eating fewer calories.
2. Focus on doing more, not less.
Whenever possible you should always make weight-loss decisions that enhance your metabolism and your body's ability to burn more calories, not decrease it. If you find that your weight loss has plateaued, implement strategies to move more, before opting to eat less. By adding 1 or 2 interval training sessions to your weekly routine, you'll burn more calories and increase your metabolism, allowing you to continue to lose weight. Eating 300-500 fewer calories per day, on the other hand, will cause your body to temporarily burn more stored fat, but eventually your body will adjust to your new decreased calorie intake and you'll need to cut even more calories to continue to lose weight (this is the beginning of a viscous cycle). The time will come when you can't increase your activity levels and you will need to start reducing your calories—this always happens. The key is to not make calorie cutting your primary weight-loss strategy. A good rule of thumb for when you do start cutting calories: Don't reduce your daily intake by more than 500 calories per day every 1-2 weeks.
By shifting your focus from restricting (or NOT doing) to doing, you'll not only lose more weight, but you'll be happier and enjoy the process more.
Meet the Diet Doctor: Mike Roussell, PhD
Author, speaker, and nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, PhD is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical eating habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and long lasting health. Dr. Roussell holds a bachelor degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. Mike is the founder of Naked Nutrition, LLC, a multimedia nutrition company that provides health and nutrition solutions directly to consumers and industry professionals via DVDs, books, ebooks, audio programs, monthly newsletters, live events, and white papers. To learn more, check out Dr. Roussell's popular diet and nutrition blog, MikeRoussell.com.