Losing weight is cyclical for many people, in that they work hard to lose weight for a time and then they end up putting the weight back on, often along with additional pounds. This can be a huge discouragement – but if you continue to work at weight loss, you will be successful. Many people give up too early in the game, for various reasons. There are some really big mistakes that people make when they plan to lose weight, and we cover five of the biggest ones here:
1. Mindless Snacking
If you’re not paying full attention to what you’re putting in your mouth, then you are likely eating a lot of calories without knowing exactly how many. Every time you eat, make a point of putting the items onto a plate so you can see how much you are eating. Sit down at the table and turn off the television to avoid stuffing your face mindlessly. The TV is only a distraction that has your mind elsewhere when it should be focused on the business of eating until you are finished.
2. Having Unrealistic Expectations
Many people expect to lose massive amounts of weight when they diet, and are disappointed when they step on the scale after a week or two. If you expect to see a 10-pound loss after just a few weeks, then you’re on the wrong track. Healthy weight loss is about one-to-two pounds per week. If you are losing more weight than that, it is probably muscle and valuable water weight. If you lose too much weight too quickly, you are more likely to gain it back quickly, too, and once you are on that path you may feel that all is lost – and then simply continue to eat and gain even more weight.
3. Skipping Meals
It is true that successful weight loss involves eating fewer calories, but you are better off eating several small meals in a day rather than skipping any meals altogether. By eating regularly, you will keep your metabolism revved up (this is your fat-burning furnace). Skipping breakfast is one of the worst things you can do because it is a meal that ends your nightly fast and helps to get your metabolism going for the entire day. If you skip breakfast, you will feel sluggish and slow, and this is not going to help in your weight-loss quest. Skipping a meal can make you feel more hungry, which means you may give in to temptation more easily, and eat a lot more calories than you had planned to simply because you are extremely hungry.
4. Failing to Readjust Caloric Intake
As you lose weight on a reduced-calorie diet, your calorie intake needs should also be readjusted. In order to lose one pound per week, you will need a total calorie deficit of 3,000 calories – or an average of 500 calories per day. As your body weight is reduced, so is the amount of calories required to maintain that body weight. Keep a diary of your calorie intake or use an app on your smartphone that helps you to track your daily meals. This will give you an accurate idea of how many calories you have already eaten and how many more you can still consume on any given day. The other great thing about this approach is that when exercise is added in, your calorie deficit is even larger – but it’s important to avoid making up for the calorie deficit by eating more food after you exercise.
5. Overestimating Calories Burned With Exercise
If you work out on a machine at a gym, the display on the machine will typically show you that you have burned about 30% more calories than you really have. Do not rely on the ‘calories burned’ display, and instead set a goal of doing a certain type of exercise for 30-45 minutes per day to burn extra calories. If you can exercise at least four days per week, you should start noticing a difference in just a few short weeks. If you find yourself getting bored with one type of exercise, try another or join a gym with a friend or two, and use peer pressure to get your butt down to the gym.
6. Not Counting Beverages in Calorie Totals
If you are drinking juice, alcohol, pop or any other sugary beverage, you are adding a lot of unnecessary calories. The best drink to consume is water and nothing more. Water is all that your body needs to keep you hydrated and healthy, and you should be drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water each day.
7. Keep Getting on the Scale
The bathroom scale is not your friend, and when you obsess with what the scale says it can be really unhealthy. Stop relying on the scale, and instead start to rely on how your clothing fits. Your weight can fluctuate throughout the day for a variety of reasons, and the scale is not always an accurate reflection of your current weight. When you start to lose fat, your clothing will fit more loosely and you will feel lighter and better. You will also see the difference in the mirror.
8. Allowing a Setback to Derail You
You decided that you want to lose some weight, and you have been working really hard. One day a friend comes over and brings you a slab of cheesecake to share over a cup of coffee. Your friend has no idea that you are on a diet, and you don’t mention anything but you go ahead and eat the cheesecake. It’s fine to do this, and everyone is human, but you need to get right back on the diet train as soon as possible to maximize your weight-loss efforts. If you allow a small slip-up to stop your progress, then you are probably going to find yourself eating more things you should not be eating, consuming larger portions, etc. – and then eventually you will be gaining the weight right back. Old habits die hard, but hard work helps break those habits.