- By Jason Lemon For the AJC
How many friends or colleagues have said to you they're trying to lose weight in the past week? Or perhaps you're that friend or co-worker.
We often tell others – and ourselves – that we're aiming to shed a few pounds, but we don't see the results we'd like. If this describes you, you're certainly not alone.
The latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that more than 36 percent of U.S. adults are obese. Furthermore, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that approximately half of overweight and obese adults say they are trying to lose weight.
Many of these people try for months or years, often failing to see the results they'd like. If this problem sounds all too close to home, here are some questions to ask yourself.
1. Do you snack between meals?
You may think you're careful about counting your calories. You eat a balanced diet, and not too much.
But while your meals may be healthy enough and not too large, what about the snacks you eat between them?
Dr. Melina Jampolis, a board-certified physician nutrition specialist, recently wrote for CNN, saying that many of her patients have calorie "amnesia."
"People frequently forget about the little things during or between meals that add up calorically and can interfere significantly with weight loss," Dr. Jampolis writes.
To remedy this problem, Dr. Jampolis recommends keeping a precise calorie journal. This way you'll know exactly how much you're consuming and where you can cut back.
2. How active are you?
Even if you're eating healthy, you may not be nearly active enough. If you're one who drives to work, sits all day at a desk, drives home, sits on the couch and then crawls into bed, you may want to re-examine how much you're moving.
While 10,000 steps is usually the recommended daily minimum for healthy adults, if you're trying to lose weight, this may not be nearly enough.
According to a 2014 report in U.S. News and World Report, an analysis of some 10,000 people (who on average lost 66 pounds and kept them off for at least five years) revealed that they increased their number of daily steps by about 4,000 on average. They maintained this routine for at least 16 weeks, but even that only brought their weight down by an average of just over 3 pounds.
So, if you're serious about weight loss, you'll want to consider starting a regular cardio or gym routine to burn calories at a faster rate.
3. Is your weekend diet too relaxed?
Most of the time when dieting, it's normal to take a routine break, often on weekends.
If you do this, maybe you should examine how much of a break you're giving yourself, according to rippedbody.com. When you drop your diet Friday evening through Sunday evening – aka all weekend – it might be countering the benefits of your strict weekly discipline.
Remember, a few beers, late night snacks and rich desserts can add up quickly. Try being more disciplined about treating yourself. Maybe just one day a week from now on?
4. Do you drink enough water?
Most of us don't realize how important drinking an adequate amount of water is to our health and weight loss.
According to Health Line, a 12-week weight loss study showed that people who drank half a liter (or 17 oz) of water 30 minutes before meals lost 44 percent more weight. Additionally, drinking water has been shown to burn calories at an increased 24 to 30 percent over a period of 1.5 hours.
And remember, drinking other beverages – especially soft drinks, which are loaded with sugar – doesn't provide the same effect.
5. How are you sleeping?
It may seem unrelated, but studies have shown that inadequate sleep is correlated with obesity.
A survey of scientific studies from around the world revealed that "short sleep duration may be associated with the development of obesity from childhood to adulthood." According to the research, adults who sleep too little have a 55 percent greater risk of becoming obese, whereas children see a disturbing 89 percent greater risk.
6. Are your medications part of the problem?
According to Dr. Jampolis, not all physicians are adequately trained in obesity medicine and nutrition. She cautions that some may inadvertently prescribe medications that lead to weight gain or hinder weight loss.
"Benadryl, Ambien, benzodiazepines, older antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, Paxil, beta-blockers (for high blood pressure), several diabetes medications including insulin, sulfonylureas and thialidazones, and some contraceptive methods, especially Depo-Provera," all have been linked to weight gain.
If you're struggling to lose weight and you're taking one of these medications, you may want to discuss the issue with your doctor.
The questions listed above highlight some of the most commons reasons people don't see the results they desire when trying to shed pounds.
There are, of course, other possibilities as well. If none of the above seems to fit your situation, you may want to speak with a registered dietitian or your doctor to analyze your specific case.