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January 8, 2013

4 reasons you aren't losing weight

With the best of intentions you have begun a new year with the goal of losing weight. So how's that going?

Yes, it's early in the process and you should understand that shedding pounds might not be as easy as you think it will be.

“Losing weight is one of the top resolutions made every year, yet only 20 percent of people achieve successful weight-loss and maintenance,” said Jessica Bartfield, MD, who specializes in nutrition and weight management at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care in Chicago.

Despite that fact that two-thirds of Americans say they are on a diet to improve their health, very few are actually seeing results. Bartfield says it's because dieting is a skill. It takes practice to get there.

Knowing why people fail to lose weight might help you avoid some of the common mistakes. Bartfield says there are four main reasons dieters don't lose weight.

1. Underestimating calories consumed

This is a biggie. Most people underestimate the number of calories they eat per day. That's why you have to read food labels and look up the caloric value of foods. Writing down everything that you eat -- including drinks and "bites" or "tastes" of food -- can help increase self-awareness.

Pay attention to serving sizes and use measuring cups and spoons as serving utensils to keep portions reasonable. Food eaten outside of the home tends to be much larger portion sizes and much higher in calories. Frequent restaurants that post the calorie content of their food.

2. Overestimating activity and calories burned

If you underestimate how many calories you consume you might also overestimate how many calories you burn in a typical day. The older you get the fewer calories you burn.

“Typically you need to cut 500 calories per day to lose one pound per week," Bartfield said.

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