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Weight Loss Shortcuts - Fast Tracks to Success or Dead End Disasters?

Weight Loss Shortcuts - Fast Tracks to Success or Dead End Disasters?

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"There'll always be some weird thing about eating four grapes before you go to bed, or drinking a special tea, or buying this little bean from El Salvador.”

— Richard Simmons

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I saw Richard Simmons in the Los Angeles International Airport once. He had a bit of an entourage and, even in the airport, he was sporting his characteristic short shorts, sporty top, and big, curly hair.

Staying true to that kind of fashion takes commitment and, say what you will about Mr. Simmons' quirky persona, he has remained equally committed to staying fit the old-fashioned way. His workout videos include Sweatin' to the Oldies, Disco Sweat, and SuperSweatin': Party Off the Pounds. Obviously, sweat is an overriding theme here.

The idea of working up a good, honest sweat runs somewhat contrary to the modern preoccupation with instant results. Whether its "instant" teeth whitening, an "instant" oil change, or just "instant" oatmeal, we want it now. You can add to this list another modern phenomenon: "instant" weight loss, with minimal effort.

However, if the idea of a "quick fix" through fad diets, diet pills, and skipping meals, resonates with you, you may want to rethink your weight loss philosophy. As with most things in life, if a weight loss program seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Don't worry, though; there are healthier, more long-term weight loss methods. They just require an extra level of commitment and bit more patience. The results, however, can be far more rewarding.

Diet Pills — The Answer to Your Weight Loss Needs?

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"Fitness - If it came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body."

— Cher

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Physicians tend to agree that diet pills have their place. However, before prescribing them, they look at patients' overall diet and exercise practices. For those hoping to lose weight, lifestyle changes are the most likely means of bringing about a long-term solution. That is what physicians focus on, first and foremost. If a patient is eating healthy foods, controlling portion sizes, and getting sufficient exercise, but still cannot obtain satisfactory results, diet pills can be an option.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the possible risks associated with diet pills — which include headaches, heart attacks, or even death — are worth taking. Basically, if you can lose the weight more naturally, your physician will recommend you do so. If you cannot meet realistic goals in this way, diet pills may be discussed.

While diet pills are not a quick fix, and they don't work for everybody, they are a viable option for many people tackling weight issues.

Skipping Meals — Less Food Equals Less Weight, Right?

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"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

— Orson Welles

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If you could just skip one of your three meals, it's reasonable to assume you would consume a third less calories and lose weight, right? Actually, that would probably not be the case.

When we skip meals, our bodies go into survival mode and, to compensate, our metabolism slows down. Then, once we do sit down to eat, we tend to eat larger meals than we otherwise might. The combination of a slower metabolism and a consumption of the same amount of — or even more — overall food means skipping meals may actually lead to weight gain, not loss.

Some experts now believe that eating a number of smaller meals throughout the day — as many as five or six — facilitates healthy living. Studies have shown that eating six small meals instead of three larger meals or, worse yet, two huge meals, results in a faster metabolic rate, less bad cholesterol, a lower percentage of body fat, and lean muscle mass.

Experts recommend that each of these meals contain about 300 calories, although that number can vary. This method also helps the body maintain a more balanced source of energy throughout the day, providing us with the energy we need to exercise.

Fad Diets and Health Related Infomercials — What to Believe?

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"I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is two weeks."

— Totie Fields

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If only infomercials offered the absolute truth in a world full of grey areas. I would sport the most rockin' set of six-pack abs you've ever seen — without working for them.

With the U.S. weight loss market reaching nearly $60 billion by the end of 2007, and the industry expected to experience continued growth, the market has seen an influx of both solid weight loss strategies and, unfortunately, snake oil.

Unfortunately, those who hawk weight loss books, videos, specialized ingredients or supplements, or any other weight loss product on TV or the Internet may be more concerned about their financial bottom line than your overall health. In addition, research has shown that those who adhere to fad diets are less likely to consider the recommendations of dieticians and nutritionists.

If you are hoping to lose weight and find a particular diet advertised in a health-related infomercial, or other advertising medium, it's best to consult with a professional to determine if the diet is right for you. If it is not, he or she can advise you of beneficial alternatives based on a more tried and true diet and exercise regimen.

Tried and True Weight Loss Methods

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"I went into a McDonald's yesterday and said, 'I'd like some fries.' The girl at the counter said, 'Would you like some fries with that?'"

— Jay Leno

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By making healthy day-to-day choices, taking part in an exercise routine appropriate for you, and accepting that there are no "instant" fixes or easy solutions, you have a better chance of losing weight and keeping if off.

While weight loss shortcuts tend to focus on becoming an entirely new person in a short period of time, the weight that is lost in this way tends to return in just as short a period. Real and lasting weight loss comes from healthy living and a more gradual shedding of excess pounds.

Richard Simmons, before we got to know his perpetually bright and upbeat personality, was a 268-pound high school graduate trying a number of bizarre diets, and even laxatives, to lose weight. He eventually lost weight by adapting a more moderate lifestyle that included healthy eating habits and regular exercise. We don't need to "Sweat to the Oldies" to learn from his example.

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