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Overcoming Weight Loss Challenges

Overcoming weight loss challenges can be very tough. We all know that weight loss in general is hard enough. It’s never a linear path to our desired outcome. Rather, it’s a journey filled with ups and downs and frustrating detours that sometimes make you feel like you’ve ended up right back where you started. While everyone’s journey is unique, there are some common challenges that we all tend to face. Being prepared for these obstacles can make all the difference. It is important to set a goal and maintain a healthy mentality in order to stay strong throughout the journey.

Here are five of the biggest challenges you are likely to face and the solutions to overcoming them:

1. Food cravings and addiction:

We all get cravings for certain types of food. Sometimes it may be a mild urge, while other times, it can be overwhelming. Whether it’s sugar, cheese, pizza, cakes, bread, or pasta, many people identify as being addicted to food. Our bodies are hard-wired to desire certain foods (2), and the food industry uses this fact to manufacture foods that many find irresistible. When you start a diet, you may restrict these foods and feel great for a few days, weeks, or even months. Slowly but surely, though, the cravings sneak back in and intensify as you continue to restrict them (3)

The fix:

There is not a one-size fits all approach to this challenge, and you may need to try a few different strategies to find what works best for you. A few ideas to try (4):

  • Keep trigger foods out of the house, or at least out of sight
  • Try something more nutrient dense like a piece of fruit, or veggies and hummus first
  • Distract yourself with a walk outside or a project that will keep your mind and hands busy
  • Take a 90-second break to reflect on your craving. A deep breathing exercise can help you make a mindful decision on if you really want to eat this food and how much you will eat
  • Don’t allow yourself to get too hungry. Cravings are much harder to resist when you aren’t properly fueled
    If you believe you are
  • suffering from a food or eating addiction, consider getting professional help. The Food Addiction Institute is a great place to start.

2. Lack of time

Meal planning, shopping, cooking, exercising…. it all takes time. Pile that on top of busy work schedules, family responsibilities, and all the other things on our over packed schedules. Prioritizing our nutrition can be one of the hardest things when overcoming weight loss challenges. Sometimes, it can seem like just too much (1).

The fix:

Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. If you don’t have time to food prep or cook, look for healthy prepared meals. Consider Daily Harvest, Freshly, or local meal delivery programs in your neighborhood. In addition, many supermarket chains have a prepared foods section where you can find salads, grilled chicken or salmon, and other healthy options ready to eat.

Be honest with yourself and your priorities. Take a look at where you spend your time every day. For example, how many hours a week do you spend on social media, watching TV, or playing video games? Perhaps this time could be better spent taking a walk. What about driving kids to their afterschool and weekend activities? Can you carpool or ask a partner for help? The truth is we are all living hectic lives, but when you make your health a top priority, you find ways to make time.

3. Dining out

Restaurant eating can be a real pitfall for those trying to lose weight (5). Tempting menu items and large portions make it challenging for people to stick to their healthy eating plans. And even if you think you are choosing well, chances are there are more calories in a restaurant meal than one you make at home (6.) Restaurants tend to add more oil, butter, and even sugar than you likely would.

The fix:

For many, a restaurant meal can be a planned indulgence – an opportunity to enjoy eating something you wouldn’t cook for yourself. But if eating out or ordering take-out is the norm, stop looking at restaurant meals as a treat. Instead, figure out how to make them fit into your plan. Here are a few ways to do that (7):

  • Chain restaurants are required by the FDA (8) to list their nutrition information. So check out how many calories are in different meals and make your decisions accordingly.
  • Don’t let temptation get the best of you. Instead, take a look at the menu BEFORE you get to the restaurant and choose a meal that best fits your healthy eating plan.
  • Split the meal or order an appetizer as your main meal.
  • Ask for your meal the way you want it – sauce or dressing on the side; substitute rice, fries, or potatoes with a side salad or some other vegetable option; instead of fried chicken, fish, or shrimp, see if they can grill it instead.
  • Limit or avoid soda, alcohol, and dessert. Those treats that you might not have at home can really add up.

4. Social events and holidays:

It’s no secret that the holidays and social gatherings are a challenge for those trying to watch their weight or eat well. It has been reported that weight gain can be around 1-3 pounds during the winter holiday season (9). A single wedding, birthday party, or family event may not add pounds right away, but it could derail your hard work. Some people even end up skipping out on these events because they are worried about how it will impact their weight loss efforts. Overcoming weight loss challenges mean conquering eating out at restaurants! 

The fix

Don’t let your diet ruin your social life or holiday celebrations, but do have a strategy in place that will allow you to enjoy the event without derailing all your hard work. The following tips may help:

  • Don’t arrive hungry to the event. Eat a healthy meal and/or a snack before you go so that that you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to fight temptation.
  • Focus on the purpose of the event, not the food. Look at these events as a time to gather with friends and family for some quality time.
  • Have conversations away from where the food is stationed. If you’re chatting with someone right next to the cheese plate, it will be hard to resist. Move the conversation across the room where the food is out of your line of sight.
  • Bring your own healthy dish to the party. Be sure to bring one of your favorite recipes that you will look forward to eating. This way, you won’t feel like you are missing out on other goodies.
  • Plan your indulgences. Sometimes these events have foods you look forward to all year and are part of your family’s tradition. Honor these traditions by savoring these foods and choosing them in balance with lots of veggies, protein, and high fiber foods to keep you satiated.

5. Lack of Support

Studies show that when people have support during their efforts, they are more likely to maintain their weight loss (10). However, when your spouse, children, friends, or co-workers eat differently from you, it can be a real challenge to stick with your healthy eating plan.

The fix:

Tell the people around you about your health goals and share why this goal is so important to you. Layout specifically what you need and how they can help.

If the people in your network are not onboard, look for support in other places. The Fast Weight Loss Facebook Support Group and Community is a great place to start. It’s filled with like-minded people who can help keep you motivated. Venture outside your comfort zone and look to connect with people at the gym or join a local hiking group to meet new connections with similar goals. Even a health professional like a health coach or dietitian can be a source of support.

Being prepared for challenges is the
best way to overcome these stumbling blocks. Think about what might trip you up and have a plan in place before these challenges appear. Overcoming weight loss challenges can be tough, but using some of these tips can fixes can make a huge difference! If you find yourself struggling and can not seem to make progress, check out our weight loss programs here. You can schedule your free consultation to see how we are helping 100’s of members with overcoming weight loss challenges every day!

1. Sharifi N, Mahdavi R, Ebrahimi-Mameghani M. Perceived Barriers to Weight loss Programs for Overweight or Obese Women. Health Promot Perspect. 2013;3(1):11-22. doi:10.5681/hpp.2013.002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963684/

2. Volkow ND, Wise RA, Baler R. The dopamine motive system: implications for drug and food addiction. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2017;18(12):741-752. doi:10.1038/nrn.2017.130 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29142296/

3. Meule A. The Psychology of Food Cravings: the Role of Food Deprivation. Curr Nutr Rep. 2020;9(3):251-257. doi:10.1007/s13668-020-00326-0 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32578025/

4. Ellis E. How to Handle Food Cravings. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published April 2021. Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-habits/how-to-handle-food-cravings

5. Kruger J, Michels Blanck H, Gillespie C. Dietary Practices, Dining Out Behavior, and Physical Activity Correlates of Weight Loss Maintenance. Prev Chronic Dis. 2007;5(1). Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248784/

6. Cohen DA, Story M. Mitigating the Health Risks of Dining Out: The Need for Standardized Portion Sizes in Restaurants. Am J Public Health. 2014;104(4):586-590. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301692 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025680/

7. 7 Tips for Healthy Dining Out. Published April 2021. Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/fad-diets/7-tips-for-healthy-dining-out

8. Calories on the Menu. FDA. Published May 2019. Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/calories-menu

9. Kaviani S, vanDellen M, Cooper JA. Daily Self-Weighing to Prevent Holiday-Associated Weight Gain in Adults. Obesity. 2019;27(6):908-916. doi:10.1002/oby.22454 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31119881/

10. Brown MM, Arigo D, Pasko K, Gupta A. Perceptions of social support for weight loss among patients in primary care. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. 2019;13(6):594-598. doi:10.1016/j.orcp.2019.10.005 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31744757/

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Top 5 Ways To Handle Sugar Cravings

Handling Sugar Cravings

Many of us have what feels like an uncontrollable urge to eat sweet things. We may be triggered by the sight of a chocolate commercial on TV, the smell of Cinnabon’s baking at the mall, or just the knowledge that a pint of ice cream is sitting in our freezer. At times it can seem near impossible to resist the temptation of sweets, and once we start eating, it’s hard to stop. I’ve been there, and many of my clients have been there too.

There are a few reasons why we have trouble staying away from sweet treats. And it has nothing to do with lack of willpower or any sort of weakness on your part. Here are 3 reasons you may have intense sugar cravings and 5 ways to tame those cravings.

Why we crave sugar

Imbalanced blood sugar: Blood sugar is a term that describes the sugar (or energy) that is in our blood, circulating for our cells to use. We tend to associate blood sugar imbalances with people living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, but just about everyone can be prone to imbalanced blood sugar. For people without diabetes, this happens on a more subtle scale. Eating foods high in carbohydrates without balancing them with fiber, protein, and fat can cause blood sugar levels to spike, followed by a sharp decline. This translates to a boost of energy to your cells, followed by periods of low energy. These low energy levels (or blood sugar) lead to cravings as our body looks for more sugar to fuel our cells.

It’s all in our heads: I mean this quite literally; our brains are hard-wired to crave sugar. We likely evolved to seek energy-dense foods like sugar for survival. Stimulating reward centers in the brain would help drive us to eat these types of foods when food was scarce. Once a protective system, it now works against us. High-calorie sweet foods are abundant all the time, and we rarely find ourselves with food in short supply.

It’s behavioral: While it is true that there is a biological drive to eat sugar, many of us use sugary foods out of habit. When we are bored, sad, or stressed, we reach for the sweet treat on autopilot. Some of us have used food to reward hard work or self-soothe for so long that we don’t even recognize the pattern.

Taming those cravings

Everyone is unique in conquering their sweet cravings, but the following tips tend to work for most people.

Balance your blood sugar: Eating meals that combine all the macronutrients will minimize blood sugar spikes, keeping energy levels stable and cravings at bay. This means eating carbohydrates with protein and fat and choosing fiber-rich foods.

Avoid skipping meals: While intermittent fasting is all the rage, for some people, this may backfire. As blood sugar gets low and energy levels plummet, that biological drive to seek calorie-dense foods intensifies. Instead, try eating a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner with healthy snacks as needed on a daily schedule.

Get a good night’s sleep: Lack of sleep, even for just one night, is associated with changes in hormones that regulate blood sugar and appetite, intensifying that biological drive to eat. Sleep is an essential element in any weight loss plan, so be sure to focus on improving your zzz’s.

Hit the pause button: Before you reach for the cookie jar, take a 60 second time out. Set a timer, drink a glass of water, and reflect on how you are feeling. Are you truly physically hungry? Not a problem; fuel yourself with healthy carbs like fruit, balanced with protein. Are you emotionally hungry? If so, what can you do instead? Take a walk, deep breath, journal, or meditate.

Choose quality over quantity: Some people can quit sugar cold turkey. If you can put sugar on the no list and never look back, good for you. That’s not me. Nor is it most clients I work with. When sugar is restricted or put on a list of “bad foods,” it becomes much more tempting. So instead of blacklisting sugar, I encourage you to be intentional about your sweets. This means choosing what sweets you will eat, how much you will eat, and when you will eat them. Look for opportunities to find more nutrient dense sweet options such as desserts with fruit, dark chocolate, or baked goods with whole wheat flour and more fiber. We have several great recipes and delicious snacks at Evolve 365 that can fit into your plan.

Sugar cravings can be tough to tame, but it can be done. With some attention to meal planning, learning your body’s hunger signals and allowing little indulgences here and there, sugar does not have to be the enemy.

1. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019
2. Lennerz B, Lennerz JK. Food Addiction, High Glycemic Index Carbohydrates and Obesity. Clin Chem. 2018;64(1):64-71. doi:10.1373/clinchem.2017.273532
3. Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Role of sleep and sleep loss in hormonal release and metabolism. Endocr Dev. 2010;17:11-21. doi:10.1159/000262524

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Fiber-The Unsung Hero of Weight Loss

Hi Guys! I’m Jen, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist working here at Fast Weight Loss 365. I wanted to pop on today and share one of my favorite weight loss tips. Today I’m going to talk to you all about fiber. In my opinion, fiber is the unsung hero of weight loss and health in general and not enough people focus on getting enough of it in their diet. I want to go over with you why it’s so important and how you can get enough fiber every day.

Fiber usually comes to mind when we think of making our bowels regular, and while it is important in gut health, its role in weight loss cannot be overlooked. First of all, you may be wondering what fiber is. Well, it’s a carbohydrate that our bodies don’t digest. This means the fiber in foods does not add to your calories or grams of carbohydrate you eat.

While we humans don’t digest fiber, the good bacteria that live in our gut, called our microbiome LOVES fiber and uses it for fuel. Science is learning new things every day that affects our health. From gut health to mood to weight loss, the healthy bacteria in our gut can play a role so we want to make sure we are fueling them.

Fiber does a few more important things when it comes to weight loss. It soaks up water and slows down how food moves through your digestive tract. This leaves you feeling full longer! Who doesn’t want that? Additionally, it can lower spikes in blood sugar after a meal. This is important for everyone, not just people with diabetes. Lower spikes in blood sugar mean more consistent energy and fewer cravings for sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods.

So how much fiber do you need? Well, the American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of fiber per day, but I try to get my clients to aim for 25-30 grams a day. Most Americans only get 16 grams of fiber a day so it’s important to know which food sources have the most fiber and include them daily.

Most of us think of fruits and veggies as having a lot of fiber, but not all are created equal. For example, 1 cup of raw spinach only has about 2 grams of fiber. You’ll have to eat quite a lot of spinach to get up to 25 grams. A few of my favorite high fiber foods, all of which have over 5 grams per serving are

Raspberries and blackberries, artichokes and avocados, beans, whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice, and nuts and seeds. I try to get some of these foods in my diet on a daily basis.

If you know you are not eating enough fiber and want to start eating more please start increasing your fiber slowly. If your body is not used to a lot of fiber you can get an upset belly and gas and bloat. If you start slow you should tolerate the fiber just fine and soon you’ll be able to get 25-30 grams in a day and reap all the benefits of this weight loss secret weapon!

Jen Scheinman, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Fast Weight Loss 365

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What is Intermittent Fasting (and is it right for me?)

By now, you’ve likely heard the buzz surrounding intermittent fasting and may be wondering if it is worth a try. While the research is promising on the benefits, it may not be for everyone. Read on to learn the different methods of fasting and the benefits and risks of this style of eating.

What is intermittent fasting?

Fasting is a period of abstaining from food for a sustained period of time. During this time, beneficial metabolic changes occur. Man has evolved to survive periods of food shortages and has created adaptations to keep us strong during brief periods without food.

We’ve created a lifestyle in the US where food is available 24/7, and people never experience the fasted state that we’ve evolved to have. Some may argue that going through periods without food is beneficial to your health. Intermittent fasting offers a way to safely tap into the metabolic potential that fasting offers without doing extended and potentially dangerous fasts. It involves regularly set periods or abstaining from food.

What are the different types of intermittent fasting:

There are several different forms of intermittent fasting that have become popular, and we’ll explore them here:

  • Time-restricted eating – this is a daily plan where you don’t eat for a set period and only eat during a “feeding window.” Fasting periods can range from 12 to 16 hours. 16:8 is a popular method of time-restricted eating where your eating window is 8 hours, and you fast for 16 hours daily
  • Alternate day fasting – this form of fasting requires you to fast every other day for 24 hours
  • OMAD (one meal a day) – exactly as it sounds, with OMAD, you only eat one meal a day. When following this protocol, fasters typically go 18-24 hours between that one meal a day.
  • Fasting mimic diets (FMD) – popularized by Dr. Valter Longo, Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, this is a very low-calorie program that allows you to eat limited foods while it mimics or tricks the body into thinking it’s in a fasted state. Some people will also use “bulletproof coffees” or non-caloric drinks where medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil has been added to help ward off hunger and boost ketone production. Some may argue that a ketogenic diet can be considered a mimic fasting diet. While all of these programs cannot truly be considered fasting, they promote similar metabolic effects in the body.

How does fasting work? – the science of fasting

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Humans have been fasting in some form or another since the dawn of time. Scarcity in food has caused the human body to evolve to handle short periods without food. In addition to times of food shortages, man has used fasting both for religious and therapeutic reasons. Because of this, we have anecdotal evidence that fasting is safe and potentially beneficial for many people.

  • Over the past few years, extensive research has been conducted, further demonstrating the efficacy and safety of fasting.
  • Weight Loss – truthfully, most people turn to intermittent fasting for weight loss, and the science does indicate that it might be helpful here. It’s no surprise that with skipping meals while you fast, you will decrease the amount of calories you consume, and this may play a role in weight loss, yet weight loss appears to happen even if there are no changes in calorie intake. Studies also demonstrate that when weight loss occurs from fasting, fat is lost as opposed to lean muscle, and decreases in waist circumference are also observed.
  • Metabolic health – in addition to weight loss, beneficial changes in metabolic health occur while fasting.
  • Brain health
  • Longevity
  • Cancer prevention

Is intermittent fasting right for me?

According to research, intermittent fasting is safe for most healthy people. The most commonly reported issues with time-restricted eating are hunger, lightheadedness, and cravings.

Intermittent fasting should not be seen as a replacement for following a healthy diet. Because of this, we recommend that only individuals who have been following the Fast Weight Loss 365 program and are eating a well-balanced diet start time-restricted eating.

There are a few instances where we don’t recommend time-restricted eating or any form of intermittent fasting. If you are pregnant or nursing, have an eating disorder or have a history of an eating disorder, fasting is not for you. Additionally, fasting should not be considered if you have uncontrolled diabetes or another condition impacting your glucose metabolism.

If you have well-controlled diabetes or other metabolic conditions, we advise talking to your doctor before starting intermittent fasting.


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2. Anton SD, Lee SA, Donahoo WT, et al. The Effects of Time Restricted Feeding on Overweight, Older Adults: A Pilot Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1500. doi:10.3390/nu11071500
3. Gabel K, Hoddy KK, Haggerty N, et al. Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study. Nutrition and Healthy Aging. 2018;4(4):345-353. doi:10.3233/NHA-170036
4. Gabel K, Hoddy KK, Varady KA. Safety of 8-h time restricted feeding in adults with obesity. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2019;44(1):107-109. doi:10.1139/apnm-2018-0389
5. Wilkinson MJ, Manoogian ENC, Zadourian A, et al. Ten-Hour Time-Restricted Eating Reduces Weight, Blood Pressure, and Atherogenic Lipids in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome. Cell Metabolism. 2020;31(1):92-104.e5. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2019.11.004
6. Lowe DA, Wu N, Rohdin-Bibby L, et al. Effects of Time-Restricted Eating on Weight Loss and Other Metabolic Parameters in Women and Men With Overweight and Obesity: The TREAT Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2020;180(11):1491-1499. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4153
7. Przulj D, Ladmore D, Smith KM, Phillips-Waller A, Hajek P. Time restricted eating as a weight loss intervention in adults with obesity. PLOS ONE. 2021;16(1):e0246186. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0246186
8. Gill S, Panda S. A Smartphone App Reveals Erratic Diurnal Eating Patterns in Humans that Can Be Modulated for Health Benefits. Cell Metabolism. 2015;22(5):789-798. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.09.005