So weight loss is promised to be easy, if you’re determined to do it. So you cut your calorie intake, you run every day, your eating healthy foods, so why aren’t you losing weight?
Maybe it was working but now you’ve plateaued and you can’t seem to lose any more weight. It’s driving you crazy. But sometimes ‘healthy’ living isn’t the same thing as ‘losing weight’. You can be healthy at most stages of weight. If you want to continue to lose weight, maybe to feel better in your bikini or get back into that dress you wore for winter last year, here are some common (and surprising) mistakes you might be making.
Water is always going to be on this list. Did you know that most people mistake thirst for hunger? It’s hard to tell the difference between them. Before you rush to the fridge for a quick fix snack, try drinking warm water, or a cup of green tea. If you’re hungry fifteen minutes later, get a small snack.
2. You Overeat
Even binging on healthy foods can be harmful. Why? Just because things are marketed as healthy doesn’t mean they are. Beware grocery store bought granola (high sugar), protein bars (likely more calories than you need), and sports drinks (an hour reading a magazine at a leisurely pace is not going to necessitate drinking an entire Gatorade). Even “low-fat” foods can be bad for you, because whenever they take out something, they have to out it back in. Plus, thinking it’s ‘low fat’ can convince you to indulge more.
3. Cardio Only
Cardio only doesn’t boost your metabolism, you need to lift weight in there too. I’m not saying cardio won’t boost your metabolism, but an essential part of that boost comes from building lean muscle. Lean muscle is put on by repetitions of light weights. So don’t skip out in favour of cardio.
4. Exercise on an Empty Stomach
Studies show that exercise on an empty stomach can cause your body to burn muscle mass rather than fat. A solution to this is to eat a small banana 15-30 minutes before heading out to do your cardio.
5. You Don’t Sleep Enough
Z’s are essential to burning fat. If you’re getting up earlier to go for your run or workout, you need to get to bed that much earlier. Energy is stored during sleep and you need that to sustain your new workout routine.
6. Standing While Eating
No, not because the act of standing is bad for you, but because it brings other goodies into reach. Sitting at a table to eat your dinner means your portions are directly in front of you. Grazing is the trouble for standing and eating.
7. You’re Too Focused on Dieting
Another difficulty with ‘eating healthy’ is that you overeat because you think your food is healthy. But if you’re not checking your ingredients list, you can be outstripping your caloric intake. Make at least one of your meals a day veggie based (try dinner). Also, focusing on what you can’t have rather than what you can have might boost cravings (which lead to cheating).
8. You Like Dressing
You like to top or dress your healthy food. You add croutons, you have salad dressing. But croutons are high in carbs and low in nutritional value and salad dressing can be high in both sugar and sodium. Instead, make your own homemade salad dressing for all the flavour, and keeping in control of everything else.
9. Skipping Breakfast
Yes, breakfast is hard. Mornings are tough. You’ve got working out and showering and prepping lunches and choosing clothes for the day to do. Maybe you have kids. But breakfast jump starts your metabolism, eat heavier foods early in the morning (maybe bring breakfast with you to the office if you’re too busy first thing) and save your calories later in the day. Think salads for lunch or dinner.
10. Portion Control
Everything in moderation. I think more important than cutting fats, or calories, or sugar and sodium is to portion control your food. Have that square of chocolate if you’re craving it. Crystalized ginger can cover a sweet craving, or a small handful of chips. If you can’t be trusted, buy everything in preportioned sizes for a quick fix, but don’t keep more in the house. Try not to give in too often.
11. Eating Without Thinking
You’re in front of the TV. It’s late. You decide on a snack. You pull out that full bag of potato chips and suddenly… it’s empty! You’ve just cheated on your diet! To curb habits like this, choose healthy snack foods. I keep fruits and veggies on my desk and prechopped in the fridge to keep my late night snacking healthy. (Plus, it helps me reach my 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies a day)
12. Big Pieces
This one is weird, but it’s true. Science has noticed a strong correlation between how many pieces of something we eat and the amount of satisfaction we gain from it. Take your portion controlled meal and cut it up into tiny pieces. This is going to trick your brain into thinking you’ve had more when you’ve really had less – and leave you feeling satisfied.
13. You Don’t Eat Enough
Not eating enough can throw your body into survival mode – which makes your body think it needs to store fat. It will store what you’re eating for the emergency it perceives is happening and reduce your energy levels, making you sleepier and making it harder to get out of bed in the morning.
14. The Post Work Out “Snack”
Are you snacking or eating full meals after your workout? Strictly speaking, after a workout you should only be eating about 150 calories.
15. You’re Not Treating Yourself
First off, rest days aren’t a joke. You need that time too cool down and not injure yourself. Sleeping in isn’t going to ruin your diet. Sundays are rest days. Take a stroll if you really feel the need to get out and go – a leisurely one. Secondly, give your a ‘bad day’ and don’t punish yourself for it. Research shows that an exta 600 calories once a week isn’t going to show up on your waistline, and you certainly don’t have to work harder for it the next day. So have the piece of cake. Enjoy a beer or two with friends.