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3 Stealth Saboteurs of Your Weight Loss

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Kymberly: Be prepared to disbelieve my next sentence:  If the U.S. continues its current weight gain trends, within the next 2 decades 100 percent of our adult population is projected to be obese. Not just overweight, obese!

Keep an eye out for Sneaky Saboteurs

That Freak Out Fit Fact comes straight from the founder of the National Weight Loss Registry, executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center located at the University of Colorado Medical Center, and professor of pediatrics and medicine, James O. Hill, PhD. That’s some serious chops. (For more eye-opening weight loss info from Dr. Hill, listen to our radio interview of him, How Do We Escape a Future of Obesity).

If you are at all like me, you are thinking “no way that projected statistic can be right as I have no plan to be in that category and I do plan to be alive in 20 years.”

Consider that already 2/3 of our population is overweight or obese. That means normal weight people are in the minority.

So what can we – you and I – do to reverse that trend and stay at a healthy weight? If you are running to the answer of “eat a healthy diet and exercise” you are mostly right. But exercise and diet are not enough. We must also recognize other factors that cause weight gain:

What are those 3 Sneaky Saboteurs that Hinder Losing Weight?

I’m Dressed for Stress

1) Stress

  • releases cortisol, a hormone that slows your metabolism
  • increases food cravings, especially of sugary, fatty foods
  • promotes fat retention, especially in the abdominal area

2) Sleep (Specifically, Insufficient Snoozing)

Cart Me Away to a Deep Sleep

In the 1970s, U.S. adults averaged 7+ hours per night. We are now down to the low 6s. When we sleep too little (6 hours or fewer) we:

  • are awake longer and often therefore snacking more
  • create an imbalance of appetite-regulating hormones, with the hormone that stimulates hunger pangs taking over
  • are possibly dealing with sleep apnea, which shows a correlation between weight gain and lost, interrupted, or insufficient sleep. The cause and effect are still in question.

Sugar is Trouble – Squared (and Cubed)

3) Sugar

  • Our average intake today is 90 pounds per person per year. That is triple the number of sugar pounds consumed 50 years ago.
  • The American Heart Association recommends women ingest no more than 9 teaspoons per day; men are not to exceed 11
  • Current average is about 28 teaspoons per day.

What are the Solutions?

Reduce stress by building in activities or habits that soothe you. Meditate, perform some kind of cardio workout, take a bath, play with your pet. RELAX ALREADY!

Sleep at least 7 hours per night, preferably 8. More than 8 is not necessarily better though, so don’t feel compelled to snooze 9 or 10 hours. Unless you’re a teen reading this, then 9-10 hours might be a cutback.

Reduce sugar intake. Focus on ingredient labels to know what sugars are in packaged foods. Worry less about the sugar in fruits or sugar you put in your coffee. Where sugar adds up is as an ingredient in other foods. And it’s cleverly disguised too so check for any words ending in “lose” and starting with “something Latin sounding.” Examples: sucrose, lactose, dextrose.

Alexandra: Great. Now I’m hungry, cranky, tired and stressed out. I do not wish to be a statistic, unless it’s in the category of “Woman who is 20 years older and has perfect curves.” I also want to be able to run high and jump tall buildings in a single bound. I think I’ll go take a nap. I already did the cardio. A steam bath sounds good too. With aromatherapy so I can smell my bright, fit future!!

Photo Credits: Creative Commons: Harald Groven (sleeping man), INeedCoffee / CoffeeHero (sugar cubes)

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About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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23 Responses to 3 Stealth Saboteurs of Your Weight Loss

  1. Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl October 11, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Obesity rates are scary. i fight with it everyday trying to use healthy habits to combats my daughter’s not so healthy eating when she is away from home.
    Well, i got rid of the bad relationship. = less stress
    Now I need to toss job for something more luxurious and less stressful (but still make the money). = a girl can wish and chase.
    And I need to learn to get some sleep. = lavender oil behind the ear (that we scored at Natural products expo) is really helping to combat insomnia.
    yay. working on it.
    Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl recently posted..Breakfast Recipe: “Sweet” Vegan Whole Wheat Couscous with Pistachios & Dried CranberriesMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 12, 2012 at 9:39 am #

      The lavender oil is a good idea. I have too little sleep & too much stress, so totally am there with you! Luckily, not much sugar in my diet. One saving grace.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Diet Cheat Days: Yes or No?My Profile

  2. Jody - Fit at 54 October 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Stress is a biggie for me – I stress easily. Good thing I work out hard! :-) Good reminders!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted..Would You StairMaster for 55 Minutes to Eat a Medium French Fry?My Profile

  3. Alicia at Poise in Parma October 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    UGH I’m struggling with all three of these right now. I’m not actively trying to lose weight, but even maintaining my current weight feels like a challenge when these sneak in. Thanks for the point of awareness on these.
    Alicia at Poise in Parma recently posted..catching up on October’s photo-a-day challengeMy Profile

  4. Kristen October 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Sleep and stress are my two biggest downfalls. I average 5-6 hours of sleep a night. Now if somehow we could extend the day to 30 hours I might be less stressed and sleep more. But for now, I will settle for my acupuncture treatment tomorrow morning. It’s amazing how someone sticking pins all over your body can be relaxing…
    Kristen recently posted..B.A.A. Half Marathon Recap; You Mean I’m Not Superwoman?My Profile

  5. Debbie@ Live from La Quinta October 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Like Kristen, sleep and stress are my issues. I have added yoga to my life, which helps me breathe and calm my mind, but job stress is still a problem for me. Sleep, yeah I don’t get enough. I work early. I go to bed at 9 already (which makes me sound very old :-)).

    Anyway, excuses, excuses. I know these are things I need to work on. I’m pretty good with the sugar, though.
    Debbie@ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Guest Post: Suffering from Anxiety? Train for the MarathonMy Profile

  6. Lynda @ Hit The Road Jane October 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Ah stress I have a lot of that lately and very sleep deprived too. Hey Christine, lets both quit our day jobs :) Except less money may cause me more stress…
    Lynda @ Hit The Road Jane recently posted..Review- Muscle Gauge Nutrition Cake Batter Whey ProteinMy Profile

  7. A.H. James October 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Very interesting article – good points raised since a lack of sleep and increased stress can add to your weight and prevent you from becoming a fit and healthy person. As to stress, cortisol really sucks especially when you’ve got fat accumulating in the abdominal area.

    • AlexandraFunFit October 12, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Well, A.H., you are right about the troublesome abdominal area. Interesting how research proves what we already figured out years ago – stress shows (and is felt) in the gut!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Spark Your Brain with ExerciseMy Profile

  8. Tamara October 12, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I am absolutely gobsmacked by that statistic. So hard to visualize…
    Need some help with de-stressing? Try knitting or another creative hobby to soothe your mind and generate a meditative state!
    Tamara recently posted..#FatblasterFriday: I get by with a little help from my friendsMy Profile

  9. Yum Yucky October 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Sugar: I used to take 7 teaspoons in my coffee alone. I was outta control. A wreckless outlaw of sugardly menacing. Now if I could just get more sleep…
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Greedy Giveaway: $25 Subway Gift Card (FREE FOOD!!!)My Profile

  10. Alison @ racingtales October 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Wow, that’s a scary statistic. Like you, I have no intention of being part of that… Thanks for the reminders…stress, sleep, sugar. Easy to remember!
    Alison @ racingtales recently posted..My Life as I Know it is OVERMy Profile

  11. Jenn @comebackmomma December 22, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    I am OK on my sleep, but stress and sugar get me every time. Scary statistic about obesity in America. Love the “freak out” photo.

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