Photo: © Jim Bastardo/Landcruisers
Q: My brother and I started a weight-loss program at the same time, but he's lost more than twice as much as I have so far. I'm getting really discouraged. What should I do?
A: When it comes to weight loss, you really have to make a conscious effort not to compare yourself to anyone else—especially if that person is male. Guys tend to lose faster than women because they have more muscle mass, which means that their metabolisms usually run faster. Plus, men tend not to have the same kind of emotional issues around food, so they may have an easier time altering their eating habits and sticking to their food plan.
Catch yourself when you start comparing your progress to your brother's progress (or anyone else's)—and think about the accomplishments that you've made. Focus solely on your success. Try writing down any small goals you've met or things you are proud of on an index card. Keep that card with you at all times and pull it out to read whenever you need a little motivational push.
Q: I exercised every day this week, but only lost half a pound. Could lack of sleep be the culprit? I've been so busy lately that I haven't had much time to rest.
A: Absolutely. It's great that you're getting a lot of exercise, and of course you know that what you eat is also crucial. But sleep matters, too! Here's why: When you're sleep-deprived, levels of a hormone called leptin that is responsible for keeping you full are lowered and levels of a hormone called ghrelin that gives the "I'm hungry!" signal to your brain are increased. In other words, if you're not sleeping very much, there's a good chance you're going to be hungrier throughout the day and consume more calories than normal, which can thwart weight loss. Try re-jiggering your schedule so you can get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. And believe it or not, too much sleep can make you hungrier too. In fact, research shows that between 7 and 9 hours of sleep seems to be the magic number for your waistline.