I recently ran across this article and thought that there have been so many times that knowing this could have saved me through other ‘diets’ and attempts at maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So many times we beat ourselves up and call ourselves failures because we tried this diet or that diet and couldn’t stick with it, but that is not at all true! Author Nicole Nichols talks ingeniously about the biggest struggles people encounter when embarking on their journey to a happier, healthier life.
Alex @ Think Active
Bad Habits that are Preventing you from Losing Weight
What could be more frustrating than not seeing the scale drop despite days or weeks of doing everything right? After all that hard work—all the cookies you didn’t eat, all the willpower you maintained, all the time you logged at the gym—how could you not have lost any weight? It’s enough to make even the most determined person throw in the towel.
Before you swear off exercise and clean eating and declare yourself as someone who “will never lose weight,” stop, take a deep breath, and remember this: Weight-loss may seem simple (eat fewer calories than you burn), but often, there’s a lot more going on than a simple calorie equation. Our bodies aren’t calculators after all!
What’s more likely is that you’ve made some innocent mistakes in your quest to lose weight. Don’t feel bad about it—it’s extremely common. These bad habits may be preventing you from getting the results you want. Instead of giving up, make some of the smart changes outlined below, and you’ll see that scale drop in no time!
Bad Habit #1: Going “on a diet” in the first place.
Since when did the word “diet” refer to something good? The word itself implies restriction, limitation, and a short-lived effort to get some quick results and then return to a “normal” way of eating. Surveys have shown that people who consider themselves to be “dieting” lose less weight and encounter more problems (such as plateaus and a lack of motivation) than people who are trying to lose weight by creating a lasting healthy lifestyle. Plus diets usually mean giving things up: favorite foods, dining out, desserts—even your social life. You don’t have to be a psychology expert to know that when you tell yourself you can’t have something, you usually want it more. This way of thinking could directly be sabotaging your efforts.
Bad Habit #2: Overhauling your eating habits overnight.
How many times have you gone crazy eating all the “bad” foods you know you shouldn’t, only to promise to swear them off starting next week or next month or next year? How often have you decided to suddenly clean out your kitchen, throw away all the “junk” and then shop for only healthy food?
How’s that working for you? No one can expect to change a lifetime of eating habits overnight—and no one should have to! To lose weight successfully and keep it off, you have to adopt a way of eating that you can stick with for the rest of your life.
Bad Habit #3: Giving up certain foods altogether.
We’ve already touched on the idea that labeling certain foods as diet no-no’s can make you crave them even more. Whether you feel out of control when you’re around certain foods or you’ve read about a certain diet plan that promises results if you were to just cut out wheat, gluten, carbs, sugar, or dairy, a lot of people think that to lose weight they have to give up specific things—including foods that they love.
A truly healthy diet that you can stick with forever will include all the foods you love. Unless you plan to give up ice cream or bread forever, then don’t cut anything out temporarily. Generally, people can give up foods like that for a while and see some weight loss success (usually because they’re eating fewer calories, not because anything about that specific food causes weight problems). But as soon as that food is let back into your life, the weight tends to come back with it.
Bad Habit #4: Only caring about calories.
Calories are key to weight loss. In fact, balancing your calorie equation (what you eat and what you burn) is what results in successful weight management. However, there is more to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle than calories alone. Some foods that may be higher in calories per serving are actually healthier for you than foods that may be lower in calories (think a heart-healthy avocado vs. a processed 100-calorie pack of pretzels). So while calories count, nutrition matters, too.
Bad Habit #5: Focusing on the scale.
You want to lose weight, so you weigh yourself, right? Yes…and no. Weight is an easy way to measure your progress, but it doesn’t tell you the whole story. Even if the scale isn’t budging, that does not mean that you’re not making major progress toward losing weight and getting healthier. You can lose inches, get fitter, gain lean muscle mass, drop body fat, become better hydrated, look better and feel more energized without the pounds budging at all.
Bad Habit #6: Only dieting and not exercising.
This may be one of the most common reasons your weight loss is stalling. Yes, you can lose weight through diet alone, but it will be a lot harder. You can only cut so many calories without feeling overly hungry, lethargic or miserable. Yet by exercising along with making dietary changes, you can eat more (and feel more satisfied) and still lose weight. Plus, you’ll get all the amazing physical and mental benefits that come from exercising, including improved appearance, better muscle tone and a healthier body overall.
Bad Habit #7: Trying to eat as little as possible.
If cutting calories is good for weight loss, then eating as little as possible is better, right? WRONG!! Especially if you’re also trying to fuel your body for regular workouts. You need to eat a certain calorie level to function optimally and get all its essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Eating much less than that can cause serious problems in the long term and damage your metabolism, making weight loss even harder.
Bad Habit #8: Giving up too easily.
No person who ever lost weight successfully reached that goal because they were perfect all the time. Setbacks happen to everyone, even the most successful people. We’ve all had days where we made a poor food decision during a meal—or even for an entire day. We’ve all missed workouts, forgot the lunch we packed, or been too busy to cook a diet-friendly meal at home. But those who continue dropping the pounds pick themselves up, forgive themselves from their mistakes, learn from their slipups, and just keep right on going.
Bad Habit #9: Confusing “healthy” with “low-calorie.”
Research shows that when shoppers see “healthy” buzz words or claims on food packages (think: gluten-free, organic, all-natural, sugar-free, low-fat, etc.), they automatically assume the food is low in calories. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Food manufacturers will plaster all sorts of enticing lingo onto their packages, knowing that you’ll think exactly that. But none of these words really tell you much about the healthfulness of a product; and none of them actually have any affect on a food’s calories.
Bad Habit #10: Unrealistic expectations.
These days with news stories, weight-loss advertisements and reality shows alike touting fast and extreme weight loss as the norm, it can be easy to think that you are capable of those kinds of results, too. But in truth, these are extreme and abnormal results that most people cannot expect to replicate. If you’re expecting to drop a lot of weight fast—and to do so consistently—these unrealistic expectations could be setting you up for failure. There’s nothing worse than expecting to lose 10 pounds in your first week, but to only lose one.
Check out Part Two: 10 Habits of Unsuccessful Dieters for some handy solutions to those bad habits!!
Do you like Nichole Nichols’ blogs as much as we do? You can find her over at SparkPeople.com!