How Can I Get a Handle on My Weight? Six Keys to Weight-Loss Success: Part II

We have established the fact that many of us struggle with our weight. It takes hard work and due diligence to lose weight and keep it off.

There are many factors involved in shedding those pounds. We've looked at healthy eating, exercising, and thinking more positively. Now let's turn our attention to our sleeping patterns, managing stress, and finding a good support system with accountability.


Getting enough sleep is so important. In our busy lives, that is usually one of the first things we short-change to eke out more hours in the day. But it takes a toll on us mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Did you know that when you sleep less, it increases your ghrelin? This is the hormone that makes you hungry. More ghrelin, more hunger. It also decreases your leptin, which tells you when you're full. Less leptin, continued eating to feel full.

When you have not had enough sleep, how do you feel? Are you more irritable, more tired which can lead to comfort eating, and have less willpower to face your day?

Besides weight management, here are other reasons to get your zzz's that may give you more motivation to hit the rack for a good night's sleep:

     * Getting enough sleep improves your productivity and creativity.

     * Getting enough sleep helps to manage insulin levels.

     * Getting enough sleep keeps your heart healthy.

     * It reduces your risk of being in a car crash.

        (It can be as dangerous as driving drunk when you are sleep-deprived.)

     * It improves your immune system.

     * It improves your sex life.

     * It helps to prevent headaches.

     * It helps with your performance when you go to the gym.

     * Good sleep improves your relationships.

     * Getting good REM sleep helps to maintain good mental health.

But you say, "That's all well and good, but I just need to get this one more thing done," and you stay up longer than you intended. The next day you drag and can barely get anything done. Ask yourself the question, "Even though I am tempted to stay up, what if I go to bed to get 7-8 hours of sleep? How will I feel, and how will my day be better?" Sometimes it is important to delay short-term gratification for long-term benefit.

If you are struggling with your weight, try improving your sleep habits. Your body will thank you!

Managing Stress

We all have stress! There is no getting around it. Either we're working too much or making too many commitments, and we are overwhelmed by our own undoing. It's as if we are on a hamster wheel and can't get off, but we wish we could!

Stress can come from external and internal factors.

External stress comes from the situations that face us in everyday life. When we move, even if only across town, there is stress with all the details to be taken care of. Work stress or school stress with their demands and impending deadlines can take a toll on us. Even positive circumstances can create stress, such as getting a new job and worrying about the learning curve and performance.

Internal stress comes from our own making. We can worry about everything, the "what if's" that never happen, and those things we don't have control over. Unrealistic expectations can lead to stress and anger.

When we're stressed, our bodies release cortisol, the "stress" hormone. Adrenaline kicks in, and we don't feel hungry for "flight or fight." When the adrenaline wears off, cortisol signals our bodies to restore our food supply. This worked well in cave man days, but we are not burning off a lot of calories in modern society. When we're stressed, cortisol is in play causing us to replace energy, so we reach for food. And the food we reach for is usually comfort food, laden with calories and minimal health benefits.

How do we minimize stress in our lives? Try the following as a start:

     * Take time to do some deep breathing a few times a day.

     * Say 'no' more often. It will allow you to give your time to the most important

        things as well as giving you time for some relaxation.

     * Allow extra time in your schedule, which will give you margins.

     * Write things down rather than relying on your memory.

     * Prepare for the next day the night before.

Allow time for rest and rejuvenation doing the things you love with those you love.

Finding a Support System with Accountability

Accountability is an important factor in weight loss and weight management. There's personal accountability where we take on the task of losing weight with a commitment to follow through. This includes making right choices, and we grow and feel good about ourselves. It improves our self-esteem because we remain true to our integrity; we live up to who we want to become.

Unfortunately, at times we rationalize and fall short of our expectations of ourselves. This is where an accountability partner can help. When you work on your weight-loss goals together, not only will it be more enjoyable, but you can be there for each other.

How do I find this accountability partner? That depends on how you have set up your eating plans. Did you go through Weight Watchers or a program at your hospital or doctor's office? Do you have friends who could lose some weight that you could do it together? Have you tried to find a group interested in weight loss? Where there's a will, there's a way!

Losing weight and maintaining it is multifaceted. It includes eating right, getting enough exercise, watching our negative self-talk, getting enough sleep, finding ways to de-stress, and being accountable with a support system. All this can seem overwhelming, but by taking specific steps in these areas, you will get there. You can do this!