If you're trying to lose weight but can't seem to make it happen, or if you try diet after diet with dismal results, then there may be a simple explanation. People trying to lose weight often make mistakes that sabotage weight loss. The good news is once you've identified those mistakes, you can correct them and increase the chance of reaching your weight loss goals.
Common Weight Loss Mistakes
Some weight loss mistakes are obvious such as overeating before bed or not exercising. Others are more subtle. Here are 10 common weight loss blunders.
Not Pre-Planning Meals and Snacks
If you don't pre-plan daily meals and snacks, you're more likely to grab whatever is handy or stop by the fast-food drive-thru. Each week, take a few minutes to plan meals and make sure all the ingredients are in your fridge or pantry. Pack your lunch each day and include healthy morning and afternoon snacks to prevent visits to the vending machine.
Try freezing healthy meals ahead of time or enlisting the help of your slow cooker to make cooking dinner a breeze on busy nights. You can also use a slow cooker to make healthy breakfasts such as this Overnight Oatmeal from EatingWell.com that are ready-to-eat when you wake up.
This is a common mistake people make to lose weight. It makes sense that if you take in fewer calories, you'll lose weight, right? Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Skipping meals makes you more likely to binge on whatever is available later in the day. According to an excerpt from Eating on the Run by Evelyn Tribole, skipping meals not only leads to calorie loading, but poor performance and "brain drain." Done often enough, it may also slow your metabolism and put your body into "preservation mode," causing it to store more fat.
It's tempting to keep weight loss goals to yourself, but it may make your efforts more difficult. Doing a weight loss plan with a friend keeps you accountable and provides an encouraging ear during frustrating moments. It also gives you someone to celebrate your successes with!
Not Reducing Stress
If you're doing everything right but still not losing weight, take a look at your stress level. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress triggers a "fight or flight" response and the release of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that increases sugar in the bloodstream, which may lead to weight gain and a host of other health concerns.
Eating Hidden Sugars
You may avoid table sugar as part of your weight loss program, but if you don't know where it hides, you're still consuming it. A lot of it. Sugar is found hidden in plain sight in condiments, soups, oatmeal, sauces, canned vegetables, and dried fruit. To avoid hidden sugars, learn its forms and names, and read labels carefully.
Eating Processed "Low-Fat" Foods
If you regularly eat processed foods labeled "low-fat," you may be derailing your diet. Although an occasional treat isn't damaging, these foods often contain hidden sugars and chemical ingredients that increase calories and may lead to inflammation in the body and weight gain. Stick to eating whole foods and limit anything processed.
Eating When Bored
Many bingeing sessions have occurred in front of the television or on the couch when there was nothing to do. If you head to the fridge at the first sign of boredom, find other ways to distract yourself. Try taking a walk, meditating, or calling a friend. Or, satisfy your urge with a glass of fresh fruit-infused water. Keep a food diary to recognize your eating triggers and try to head them off at the pass.
Too Many Cocktails
If you enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail before dinner, know how much you drink. A serving of wine or a cocktail is four to five ounces, and both pack on calories. For example, five ounces of wine has 100 calories, a four-ounce margarita has 270, and a Mai Tai has 310. If you drink, do it in moderation and be sure you calculate the extra calories.
Not Changing Your Exercise Routine
Exercise is a critical part of any weight loss plan, but to be effective you need to change it up. Don't just walk on the treadmill five days a week or only do stomach crunches. Combining cardio and strength training is most effective. If your weight loss plateaus, add intensity by increasing your workout speed and length, doing interval training, or increasing your strength training repetitions and weight.
After exercise, don't wreck your progress by overeating. People are hungry after a workout and may eat too much. Choose a filling, high-protein snack such as a hard-boiled egg, cottage cheese with chopped almonds, or a protein smoothie.
Eating Large Portions
Even if you're eating the right foods for weight loss, you may eat too much. To avoid overeating, it's important to understand correct portion sizes. Choose My Plate offers guidance on how much food should fill your plate.
Read package serving sizes carefully. Amounts you think should serve one often serve two. Read nutrition labels and divide portions into individual containers. Restaurant portions tend to be huge, so if you're eating out, share your meal or immediately ask for a take-home container to put half your meal inside to eat the next day.
While weight loss success depends on many factors, your outcome is more likely to be positive if you eat smart. This means educating yourself about food ingredients, portion sizes, and exercise options. In addition, eating "clean," exercising regularly, and managing your stress helps support your healthy lifestyle goals. Also, don't forget to reward your hard work with a treat now and then.