Are you ready to lose weight – for real this time?
If you’re getting back on the wagon, there’s a good chance you’re like most of us and have fallen off a time or two (or three or four).
The hardest thing about weight loss isn’t the exercise or the incredible amount of chicken and white fish you end up eating. It’s that weight loss, despite being well studied, is littered with misinformation, old wives’ tales, and marketing ploys that can be hard to discern from the fact.
Plus, what works for you may not work for your best friend, so it can be hard to rely on information from people you trust.
However, there are a few common weight loss mistakes that people tend to make over and over again. If you can avoid these, you’re more likely to hit your target weight in less time (and with less effort).
Here are seven of the biggest weight loss mistakes you can make on your journey.
1. Following Too Many Rules
Believe it or not, healthy eating is relatively simple. Here’s what you really need to do to lose weight:
- Avoid processed foods
- Get your vitamins and minerals
- Move your body
- Get some sleep
- Chill out
You do not need to:
- Avoid all naturally-occurring sugar
- Stop eating before 7 PM
- Eat a dozen tiny meals per day
- Never cheat
- Indulge in kelp/hot water and lemon/fit teas/other trends
Following too many arbitrary rules is a good way to trip yourself up and get away from the basics of weight loss. It’s more important to follow a plan that works for you, your lifestyle, and your abilities than to fit the mold of a particular weight loss resource.
2. Restricting Calories
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, people still restrict their calories.
In theory, this makes sense. If you consume fewer calories, you’ll lose more weight.
While this may work for some people, particularly busy people who struggle to find time to eat, it’s not a good way to maintain your weight because you’ll find yourself getting too hungry and indulging more.
Here are a few more why reasons restricting calories is a mistake:
- It messes with your metabolism, which helps regulate your weight.
- Undereating means you’ll struggle to gain muscle – and it hurts your organs.
- Fewer calories often mean fewer nutrients, leading to nutrient deficiencies and illnesses.
3. Using Artificial Sweeteners
You’re skipping sugar. But you’re just skipping calories, right? You can replace it with substitutes.
Thinking this way is a mistake because artificial sweeteners can actually lead to more body weight, typically carried around your stomach.
If you’re going to eat something sweet, go for the real thing and indulge in sugars that are naturally occurring if possible. And don’t forget to look out for artificial sweeteners in foods you wouldn’t expect, including bread and condiments.
4. Counting Calories on a Machine
Treadmills, cross-trainers, stationary bikes, and rowing machines are all happy to report that you’ve burned 1,000 calories.
Unfortunately, you likely did not.
The numbers presented by exercise machines are usually off the mark by up to 42%. While miscalculating the number of calories you’ve burned isn’t a crime, it can be problematic if you’re counting calories and trying to match your intake by what you’ve burned during exercise.
Burning 42% fewer calories than you think you did and then enjoying a big block of cheese because you think you’ll breakeven is possibly why your previous weight loss efforts failed.
Rather than worrying about the calories you’ve burned during a workout, focus more on the intensity of the workout and the way you feel. If you’ve brought your heart rate up for an extended period of time and you’re feeling tired, sore, and generally like you’ve gotten a good work out in, then be happy with that.
5. Cutting Out a Huge Food Group
Whether it’s marketed as a diet or a ‘lifestyle’, many modern weight loss plans rest on the idea of cutting out wide swaths of the food we eat.
Some cut carbs, others cut sugar, the Paleo diet cuts out virtually everything but meat and green things.
Unless you’re allergic to a food group or you just hate bread (it happens), there’s no reason to try cutting out a huge portion of your diet swiftly and forever. More importantly, there’s little to no reason to cut out multiple food groups.
Not only can this lead to nutrient deficiencies, but most people don’t find it’s sustainable. And if you want to create a body you can live in over the long run, you’re looking for sustainability.
6. Not Eating Vegetables
Vegetables are delicious, especially if you take the time and care to cook them the way they’re meant to be eaten. More importantly, vegetables carry essential vitamins and nutrients you need to be healthy (and lose weight).
Many people struggle to get their daily recommended dose of vegetables in and supplement with carbs or extra protein instead. If you’re one of those people, consider dedicating one meal a week to showcasing vegetables. Alternatively, find ways to add vegetables, like spinach, into every meal you can.
7. Cheat Days (or Weekends)
No one is saying you can’t cheat on your diet. You should. However, deviating from your healthy meal plan is best done over the course of one set meal.
Transforming your cheat meal into a day or weekend can undo some of the progress you’ve made over the week. Eating mindfully all week doesn’t give you license to enjoy bottomless mimosas at brunch Saturday AND Sunday.
If you feel the need to take the weekend off from your diet, there’s likely something wrong with your diet that’s causing you to feel unhappy. Take time to re-evaluate to figure out why you’re feeling negatively enough to dive face first into a box of Chinese takeaway and not resurface until Sunday.
Avoid These Mistakes for a Healthier Relationship with Food
Many of the biggest mistakes people make when dieting come down to their relationship with food, eating, or cooking.
By focusing on loving your body and the food you fuel it with, it will be easier to find a way to eat healthy that works best for you – without relying on fads, gimmicks, or fancy marketing strategies.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.