In the age of stick thin models and infomercials, it’s no wonder women find themselves in a self-image quandary. About sixty percent of the country is overweight, but about ninety percent of the advertising for weight loss is geared towards women. What is society trying to say?

Everywhere we look these days, women are bombarded with images of what society thinks we should look like. Besides that, there are crooks trying to make a fast buck at our expense. These people advertise weight loss gimmicks on infomercials that may or may not work. Then, they sit back and wait for us to bite. And, we always do-to their benefit and our detriment.

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. We’ve all heard this one before, but I think we need to hear it again. Something happens to discouraged women when they watch weight loss infomercials. We see this shapely blonde chick wearing a bikini and instantly we want to become her no matter what it takes. Our brains go on hiatus for about thirty minutes, while the announcer fills our head with drivel.

If the product promises weight loss of more than two pounds over a sustained period of time, beware. There are weight loss programs that restrict carbohydrate and sugar intake initially to jumpstart weight loss. With these programs, it’s not uncommon to lose six or seven pounds the first two weeks. After that, the weight loss settles into the normal pattern of one or two pounds of fat loss a week.

Liquid diets are dangerous. You can’t possibly get all of the nutrients needed to maintain cellular health from a fruit drink or a shake. You may lose weight, but you will not be healthy. Muscle is lost this way and you don’t want that. Liquid diets will not completely solve flat belly issue. Along with losing the weight, the person should focus on the health to remain fit and healthy. Oh, and you’ll always be hungry so the temptation to cheat is high.

2. Weight loss programs that exclude exercise downplay the importance of cardiovascular health. There are diets out there that base weight loss on caloric intake alone. Women, as we all know, carry our weight in our abdomen, hips, and thighs. Because these are large muscle groups, exercise is needed to achieve the look we desire. Women want to lose weight, but we also want to have a toned body. If we lose fifty pounds or more, we must also tone the muscles underneath the skin to get it back into shape or it will sag even though we’ve lost weight.

Exercise improves our cardiovascular health and muscle tone. Extra weight on our bodies puts a strain on our hearts to pump blood to all that additional tissue. Exercise improves the efficiency of the heart’s pumping system. Our body’s oxygen consumption is lowered when our body learns to use it more efficiently through aerobic activity.

3. Fear drives women to try weight loss gimmicks. Some women diet out of fear that their husbands will leave them. Listen up: if your husband is only concerned with your weight and not you, the woman, then any little fault he finds will tempt him to leave. The weight issue just happens to be the topic of the moment. Men like this fall in love with an image. If there is a change in the status quo, they become agitated.

I was convinced my husband would walk out because I had gained weight. I bought every weight loss program advertised. Most I tried and gave up on for one reason or another. If I had just talked to my husband, I would have found out that he was more concerned about my health and well-being. What I was really afraid of was that I would no longer be desirable to him. Now that I knew I had his support and nothing to fear, I could lose weight the right way.

4. Find your spiritual center. I lost weight about ten years ago and slimmed down to a healthy weight. But, my life didn’t have the spiritual base that it needed, so when I stressed out, I ate to relieve the pressure. My body had changed, but my self-image had not. Eventually, I gained all the weight back and then some. Now, I know that God loves and accepts me inside and out with no reservations. I am losing weight for the second and last time because I have accepted who I am through God. I love myself even though I am not a size four. Allowing God to mend our “inner woman” will make it easier to change the “outer woman” permanently.

There will always be gimmicks available that take our money and destroy our self-image. Don’t send your brain on hiatus-use it. Realize that the key to permanent weight loss is self-acceptance. Then, you’ll be free to eat less, stick to an exercise program you enjoy, and lose weight on your own terms.