It’s phenomenally frustrating to work out for weeks, only to find that your jeans aren’t any easier to get into and the numbers on the scale don’t look any more encouraging. It’s enough to make you want to dive head-first into a gallon of ice cream. If you aren’t making any progress after working so hard, what’s the use in trying? Before you give into the temptation to binge away your sorrows, step back and take an objective look at your diet and workout habits. It’s possible that the answer to your problems lies in a mistake you’re making without even realizing it. Here are eight of the most common weight loss mistakes:
Weight Loss Mistakes
You Cheat on Your Diet
Weigh loss mistake: This is the most obvious culprit but often the most overlooked. There are many complicated reasons why food sabotages your weight loss plans. You may not realize the number of calories in your food, reward yourself with food and forget to add the calories, overeat without noticing, eat the wrong types of food, or indulge bad habits like eating while you’re cooking.
What you can do: You should be eating lean sources of protein, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, nuts and healthy fats. Follow the guidelines on appropriate portion sizes. Enjoy your steak, but keep your portion to the size of a deck of cards. Avoid eating out of boredom, to celebrate, or to drown your feelings. Don’t eat standing up or in front of the television.
You Don’t Drink Enough Water
Weigh loss mistake: Our bodies are made primarily of water. Water aids in nearly every function of our bodies, including digestion, muscle development, and fat loss. It has no fat, no calories, no sodium and no sugar. Need we say more?
What you can do: Ditch the juices, yogurt smoothies and sodas. Drink pure, clean water. If you find it hard to remember to do this, buy a few nice glass bottles to pour your filtered water into. Drinking it out of something that looks awesome can trick you into enjoying it. Add aromatics like lemon, mint, basil, cucumber, thyme or cilantro. Throw in a few berries to make it prettier. Choose sparkling if you enjoy the zing of carbonation.
You Treat Yourself to an Evening Cocktail or Three
Weigh loss mistake: A dry martini at the end of a hard day is a fair reward for all that you go through. The problem is, that martini can easily be 220 calories or more, according to My Fitness Pal (myfitnesspal.com). If this is something you treat yourself to once or twice a week, don’t sweat it. But if a little tipple is part of your daily routine (especially if that one martini becomes two or three), you’re sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Not only does alcohol have empty calories, your body gives it the priority removal service. That means all other calories you consume with or soon after that martini will get stored while your body rids itself of the alcohol.
What you can do: Limit your alcohol intake to two to three drinks a week. Stay away from mixed drinks. Stick to wine or clear liquor mixed with seltzer water. Stay clear of snack foods after you drink, as you’ll be so much more tempted to cheat when your guard is down. Find other ways to reward yourself for a hard day’s work.
4: Your Life is Largely Sedentary (Even Though You Work Out)
Weigh loss mistake: According to the American College of Sports Medicine (acsm.org), even if you work out once a day every day, if you spend much of the rest of your day sitting, you’re still at a significantly increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, weight problems and a shorter life expectancy. Many of us have our jobs to thank for our sedentary lifestyles, but all is not lost.
What you can do: According to the Washington Post , the solution may be as simple as getting up once every hour to break up the monotony of sitting. Walk around your office. Use the stairs to go up and down one flight. Volunteer to grab drinks for your coworkers from the vending machine (just drink water yourself). If you’re a stay-at-home parent, take your little one outside. Check the mail. Hop up and do and few squats. Go for a walk.
You Take It Easy on Yourself
Weigh loss mistake: It’s time for honesty. Just how hard do you push yourself during your workouts? The ACSM points out that for a workout to be effective, you need to break a sweat, and not just because the air conditioning went out. If you’re able to maintain a lively conversation with your best friend during your cardio, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. If you could toss the hand weights you use in your purse or duffel bag and not notice a real difference, you aren’t lifting enough weight.
What you can do: It’s time to step out of your comfort zone. When you’re working with weights, try them out first to see which weight tests you without making you lose good form. When it comes to cardio, step it up a notch. Shape (shape.com) recommends setting small, reachable goals so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Instead of diving straight into a five-mile sprint, for example, speed up your treadmill for one-minute intervals, followed by one minute of slower walking or jogging.
You Aren’t Warming Up and Stretching Properly
Weigh loss mistake: If you’re not motivated to work out, it can be tempting to jump right in to get it over with quickly. However, according to the Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org), the warm-up is too important to overlook. It gets the heart pumping, the blood flowing, warms up your muscles and prepares you mentally and physically for the work ahead. Working out on cold muscles not only increases your risk of injury, but it can also make the workout itself seem harder than it is, which can cause you not to give it all you’ve got.
What you can do: Devote 20 minutes to a good warm-up routine. It should involve easy movements and light cardio. After your warm-up, stretch lightly. It’s always more effective to stretch after your muscles are warmed up. Pop in your earbuds and listen to music that motivates you and gets your engine revving. By the time your warm-up is over, you should be ready to crush your workout.
You’re Eating Too Late at Night
Weigh loss mistake: In many countries, supper is traditionally the heaviest meal of the day. The kids are home from school, the parents are home from work and it’s a chance for everyone to gather around a good meal to share their experiences. While it’s a nice tradition, it isn’t exactly kind to your waistline. After all, you’ll be going to bed in just a few hours. Where are all those calories going to go? You’ve got it: the right to those saddle bags.
What you can do: If you’re in control of your own meals, make breakfast your heaviest meal and supper your lightest. Stick to salads, broth-based soups and steamed seafood in the evening. If you don’t make the decisions at meal time, find a way to turn your meal into a salad. Take a small portion of your family’s supper and arrange it on a bed of greens. Skip the heavier sides, like potatoes or macaroni, and double up on the veggies and fruit. Let the person who prepares the meals to know you’re trying to lose weight and get healthier.
You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
Weigh loss mistake: It may seem as though burning the candle at both ends should torch extra calories, but the opposite is true. Lack of sleep affects your body’s ability to regulate hormones, says WebMD (webmd.com), which not only disrupts how efficiently it uses fuel but can also cause your body to send signals that you’re hungry when you’re not.
What you can do: Try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Unplug from all electronic devices prior to bed and unwind with a book or crossword puzzle instead. Skip the television, too, as the colorful images and light will wake your brain up instead of letting it drift off. Ditch the late evening glass of wine. While wine may make you feel pleasantly sleepy, it will prevent you from getting the restorative REM sleep your body craves.
Any of these innocent weight loss mistakes can stall your efforts to lose weight. By examining your lifestyle choices and making a few key changes, you could be back on the road to seeing results in no time.