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Alternative Weight Loss Solutions

Tips to Tackle Three Common Obstacles to Weight Loss

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Updated January 01, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you're struggling to shed pounds, it's possible that certain hidden factors might be messing with your weight loss efforts. Here's a look at several problems shown to thwart weight loss — and a few natural approaches that could serve as your weight loss solutions.

The problem: Skimping on sleep might lessen the benefits of dieting, according to a 2010 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine. In tests involving 10 overweight adults placed on a diet, researchers found that participants lost less body fat when they slept only 5 hours and 14 minutes each night (compared to when they slept 7 hours and 25 minutes per night).

Weight loss solutions: Practicing good sleep hygiene is essential for getting your recommended eight hours of slumber each night. Certain natural remedies (such as lavender aromatherapy and valerian supplements) might also help treat sleep problems, such as insomnia.

The problem: A number of studies suggest that chronic stress could contribute to weight gain. Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, a 2009 study of 1,355 American men and women found that weight gain is often associated with stressors like job-related demands, relationship problems, and difficulty paying bills. The study's authors concluded that taking steps to reduce stress may help prevent weight gain.

Weight loss solutions: Stress-management techniques, like yoga and tai chi, may promote relaxation and counteract the effects of chronic stress.

The problem: Some research indicates that dealing with depression may interfere with weight loss attempts. But in a 2010 study from General Hospital Psychiatry, scientists determined that improvements in mood may help support weight loss. For the study, 203 women (all of whom were obese and showed symptoms of depression) took part in one of two treatment groups: one focused on weight loss, and the other focused on both weight loss and depression. After six months, women who experienced improvements in depressive symptoms were found to be more likely to have lost at least five percent of their body weight.

Weight loss solutions: Alternative therapies like meditation and massage may act as natural mood enhancers. However, it's important to note that self-treating mood disorders with these therapies is not advised. If you're experiencing mood disorder symptoms (such as persistent sadness, loss of interest in daily activities, fatigue, extreme mood changes, and inability to concentrate), talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Should You Use Natural Weight Loss Solutions?

If you're considering the use of weight loss solutions like herbal remedies, dietary supplements, or natural weight loss aids, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.

Sources:

Block JP, He Y, Zaslavsky AM, Ding L, Ayanian JZ. "Psychosocial stress and change in weight among US adults." Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Jul 15;170(2):181-92.

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, Penev PD. "Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity." Ann Intern Med. 2010 Oct 5;153(7):435-41.

Simon GE, Rohde P, Ludman EJ, Jeffery RW, Linde JA, Operskalski BH, Arterburn D. "Association between change in depression and change in weight among women enrolled in weight loss treatment." Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2010 Nov-Dec;32(6):583-9.

Vicennati V, Pasqui F, Cavazza C, Pagotto U, Pasquali R. "Stress-related development of obesity and cortisol in women." Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Sep;17(9):1678-83.

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