Are you constantly trying to lose weight, but never feeling successful? For many of us, shedding those extra pounds feels like an eternal struggle. No matter how much we eat healthy and exercise, the number on the scale won’t budge. If you’re frustrated about not losing weight and don’t know what to do, make sure you’re not falling into these common traps!
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1. Calling it a diet
The biggest misconception about weight loss is that it’s something you can do for 4 or 12 weeks, and then stop. The changes you make to your diet and exercise habits should be permanent and sustainable. While you may eat a little more once you’ve reached your goal weight, you shouldn’t go back to your old, unhealthy lifestyle. Chances are, as soon as you return to those bad habits, the weight will start to creep up again. So, instead of thinking of your diet and exercise plan as temporary, view it as a long-term commitment to healthier living.
To help yourself stay on track, make changes little by little. Instead of 100% making-over your diet in one day, make manageable changes one or two at a time. Don’t try to cut out all of your favorite foods overnight – take it week-by-week. For example, in week one eliminate soda and sweetened beverages. Once you’re used to that (by week two or three), try to cut down on red meat. And so on…
2. Assuming that you and your best friend can eat the same
Every body is different, so each person will respond differently to the same diet. Another big misunderstanding is that if your friend (or significant other or coworker) has great success with a particular plan, that you will automatically benefit from that same strategy. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. It’s normal if you’re not losing weight, even when your friends do. This is because we all have different metabolisms, different hormones and different activity levels. So, it makes sense that there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription for easy weight loss either.
Try different eating patterns, different workouts, and different calorie counts. The only tried-and-true way to drop weight is to create a negative energy balance, meaning more calories burned than consumed. Since this will be different for every person, the best bet is experimentation (plus good ol’ portion control and exercise).
3. Letting cheat days morph into cheat weeks
We all mess up. Nobody eats perfectly healthy 100% of the time, but people who successfully lose weight bounce back quickly from less healthy choices. Each meal is a new chance to make better decisions, and each day is a new opportunity to commit to healthy living.
So, if you’re at a special event – or really craving that piece of pizza – go for it! But then don’t think of that indulgence as a free license to throw your diet away for the rest of the day or weekend or month… Enjoy your treat guilt-free, and then re-commit to your healthy habits. The key to successful and sustainable weight loss is consistency. Consistency in making healthy nutrition choices, consistency in staying active, and consistency in bouncing back from setbacks.
4. Doing the same workout every day
Are you daily attendee at the 7am spinning class at your local gym? Or go for the same 5K run every day? Most of us have a workout that we love (or at least prefer) and it’s easy to just do our favorite exercise every time. Any activity is better than no activity, but research shows that mixing up your fitness routine is the best plan if you’re hoping to shed a few extra pounds.
By varying your workout to include different types of cardio, strength training, endurance and recovery exercises you’ll maximize weight loss potential. By changing-up the muscles you’re using, varying the intensity, and learning new exercises, you’ll be able to push yourself each day. So keep doing your favorite workout, but also make sure to add-in a couple of days of something else each week if you’re not losing weight.
5. Searching for shortcuts
The last, but certainly not least, perception that hinders weight loss is that there are shortcuts you can take to lose weight more easily or more quickly. There are no shortcuts – only hard work. Sure, you can drop 5-10 pounds fast using the newest juice cleanse, super-intense workout, or really restrictive diet, but you’ll almost certainly gain that weight back when the program finishes. So, the better strategy is to take it little by little – eating less and working out more – to ensure that your weight loss is both healthy and long-term.
Have you struggled with not losing weight, even after diet and exercise? Did you (or do you) fall into any of these traps? Share with us in the comments section below!