In a culture literally obsessed with self-image, we all strive to look like the models on the cover of our favorite magazines and then chastise ourselves when we don’t reach this lofty goal. Nearly every one I know, both men and women, have tried to lose weight at some point in their lives only to either fail miserably or to succeed and then have the weight mysteriously come back several months later. These failures can often be attributed to common mistakes that we are all guilty of when we’re trying to lose weight. Although there are literally hundreds of mistakes we make when striving to drop weight, there are 10 weight loss mistakes which are experienced by a majority of dieters.
1. Eating out too often. This one may seem fairly obvious but, for some reason many dieters do not seem to embrace its wisdom. As Americans, we are constantly on the go and, unfortunately, the only food we allow ourselves time to consume is purchased in a drive through. In addition to fast food, going out to restaurants too often can also sabotage your weight loss plans. Although many major chain restaurants offer “healthy options”, they are still frequently packed full of extra sugar or sodium to improve the taste and keep you coming back for more. For a simple solution, try packing cut up veggies or fruit which you can easily keep in your car or at your desk so you can avoid the drive through temptation.
2. Relying on the “Liquid Lunch”. I love smoothies and I used to believe the hype that these things were “healthy”. True, a smoothie is probably a much better option than a bag of hamburgers and fries, however, most smoothies are loaded with excess sugars and artificial flavorings. Additionally, many of us fail to realize how many calories are actually in these things! Smoothies truly are meal replacements. Eating a sandwich and washing it down with a smoothie is a huge weight loss mistake.
3. Skipping the gym. Many of my friends complain endlessly to me about how they barely eat and still gain weight. I always ask them what kind of exercises they’re doing to stay active. The blank stare I usually get tells me everything I need to know. How could you possibly expect to lose a single pound if you are not burning any calories throughout the day? Not all of us are going to be marathon runners or power lifters but every one of us can get out of our cubicles and go for a walk. Staying active is an integral part of losing weight that few people seem to realize. Are you tired of going to the gym and walking on the treadmill for hours? Try mixing it up and take an aerobics or dance class. The key here is to stay active!
4. Setting unrealistic weight loss goals. Are you a patient person? Me neither. I, like most Americans, thrive on instant gratification. Unfortunately, it is just this kind of attitude that is altering our lives and our waistlines. Is it realistic to lose 30 pounds in a week? Not unless you want to land yourself in the emergency room. Take a measured approach to weight loss and set some weekly goals that are realistic and attainable. Nothing will kill your motivation more quickly than setting goals that you can never realistically reach.
5. Jumping on the latest “fad diet” bandwagon. This one has probably affected each one of us. I’m sure you can all name about ten fad diets off the top of your head that you, or someone you know, has tried. The Atkins diet, the Zone diet, the Grapefruit juice diet, etc. There truly is no substitute out there for eating a well-balanced diet that incorporates many different types of foods. People have been eating for millennia now. If there was a magical diet, don’t you think we would all know about it by now?
6. Relying on dietary supplements to lose weight. My friend, Beth, swallows about twenty pills a day and guzzles energy drinks that she believes give her extra energy and help her deflate her spare tire. I try hard to keep from laughing when she tells me this. I can only imagine the damage she is doing to her body by taking this stuff. Energy drinks and “metabolic enhancers” that promise to give you energy can be very dangerous if taken in large quantities. Be careful with this stuff.
7. Crash dieting. You may have heard this referred to as yo-yo dieting because it refers to the constant “ups and downs” you put your body through. Going through periods of starving yourself only to live it up on the weekend by devouring a cheese steak and following it with a cheesecake is a really bad idea. Consistency is the key to successful weight loss. Starvation and binge eating will only frustrate you and destroy your motivation to lose weight.
8. Staying up too late. Believe it or not, a lack of sleep can be a significant contributing factor to the extra weight you have on your stomach and hips. When you sacrifice sleep, your stress levels increase and your body can end up storing extra fat. Skip watching that extra episode of True Blood and get to bed early tonight!
9. Skipping meals. You aren’t fooling your body by skipping meals. Have you ever heard of the survival instinct? When you skip a meal, your body goes in to panic mode and starts storing calories as fat in case you miss more meals. Instead, try eating more often but make your meals smaller.
1O. Eating late at night. Guess when your metabolism is at its absolute lowest point? You guessed it, right before you go to bed. Most nutritionists are in agreement that you should stop eating around 7 pm to allow your body to naturally slow down and get a good night’s sleep.