As many as two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. Weight loss may be the solution, but for most people losing weight can be incredibly difficult and frustrating. So weight loss may be both the solution and the problem.
Weight Gain Causes
Excessive weight has many causes including our genes, upbringing, food environment, and psychosocial stressors. Many people blame a sluggish metabolism for being overweight. Although metabolisms vary, more often than not most of the extra pounds would be there regardless of metabolism. Metabolic differences do matter and it is important to assess your basal metabolic rate. This can be estimated by using a variety of formulas with a professional. Endocrine problems are also responsible for weight gain, e.g., hypothyroidism. But, again 95% of overweight people have perfectly healthy thyroids.
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Weight Loss Treatment
Behavioral weight loss programs designed by psychologists have been proven to be effective. However, even with these programs weight regain can be common. So it is important behaviors, emotions, and cognitions are all properly addressed in treatment to ensure genuine lifestyle change. It is important to select a clinician with a great deal of training and experience in the area of weight loss. There is perhaps more misinformation available (and promoted) in the area of weight loss than any other issue addressed by psychologists. In addition, there are serious medical risks associated with excessive weight, but also with losing weight too rapidly. Therefore, it is crucial to seek expert professional help when necessary regarding the approach whether it is a referral for nutritional counseling, psychotherapy, exercise, or bariatric surgery (e.g., gastric bypass surgery).
Most people have tried various diets, dieting strategies, exercise programs, and even diet supplements. Various trends exist in the diet industry. Past decades emphasized low fat and low sugar. The most popular diets today emphasize limiting carbohydrates. Atkins, the Zone, and The South Beach are all examples of diets which keep carbohydrates lower than the average American’s diet. Weight Watcher’s, Jenny Craig, and L.A. Weight Loss are programs that many have used. Scientific studies indicate that for weight loss (not necessarily other measures) the most important aspect of dieting is calorie consumption. As long as your physician approves the nutrient recommendations, any of these programs could be successful for losing weight, as long as you can stick with the program.
Most people do not maintain their weight loss. In fact, 90% of those who successfully lose weight, will regain that weight within 12 months. This weight loss-gain cycle is potentially dangerous. Some argue an individual may be better off not losing the weight in the first place. This rationale is based on the way our bodies lose and gain weight. When we lose weight we lose both fat and muscle. Unfortunately, when we gain weight the percentage of fat that we add is higher than the percentage lost. Therefore a 10 pound loss/regain cycle results in the same body weight, but the body composition of fat to lean muscle mass has increased. Continuous cycles will result in higher and higher body fat percentages, which increases numerous medical risks, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, AND a slower metabolism, making future weight loss attempts even harder.
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