So you want to improve your weight loss results? Anyone who has ever lost weight will tell you that not every day will be smooth sailing. There will be ups and downs, and sometimes the reasons are clear while other times you honestly have no clue what’s going on.
We’ve seen all sorts of factors, but there are some common mistakes that people make which, once you’re aware, can be avoided:
- Doing “my version” of a plan. Commit to a plan and stick to it. Making changes, even if they seem minor, can mess up the nutrient balance of the program and may affect your body’s ability to release stored fat.
- Have a treat or cheat day. Some people can get away with having the occasional splurge, but most can’t. It’s much better to think about developing a new eating pattern that you can continue for life, rather than thinking about deprivation and rewards. It works better for your body and for your mind.
- Snacks are too big. This is especially true if you snack on nuts, dairy foods, or fruit. While each of these is very different nutritionally, they all have the same problem in that they’re easy to overeat. If you snack on these foods, learn the appropriate snack size for your body to still achieve the results you want.
- Too many sweeteners. Whether they’re natural or artificial, all sweeteners help you retain your desire for sweet foods. They also signal the brain to expect an influx of calories, which can result in hormonal responses that cause over-eating (to cater to the brain’s expectation), or increased fat storage, or both.
- Eating because it’s time. Part of successful weight maintenance is the ability to understand the body’s hunger signals. Many times when people eat, they’re not even hungry: they might be bored, or with others who are eating, or lured by temptation, or the clock says it’s a meal time. It’s far better to be responsive to the body’s cues rather than social cues, and it’s a skill that needs to be learned.
- Eating too little. Many people think that minimising their food intake will lead to weight loss. It certainly can (as is obvious in the TV series Survivor), but for most people semi-starvation slows the metabolic rate which stops weight loss. Any weight actually lost is lean tissue, so these people end up “skinny-fat”. Then as soon as you “re-feed” you’ll gain a lot of weight.
- You started with unrealistic expectations. Your neighbour’s son lost 20kg in 10 weeks, so surely you can do the same, right? Actually, not even close. Most people need to aim for healthy weight loss of about half a kilo per week, as long as they’re following their program fully. Some people also lose a lot in the first week and expect that to continue, but they don’t realise that the initial weight is usually the release of retained fluid and not stored body fat. Understanding this can help in developing realistic expectations.
- Lack of sleep. Too little sleep, or poor quality sleep, triggers hormones that slow weight loss. Chronic poor sleep can mean no weight loss, so it’s important when losing weight to develop strategies to improve sleep.
- High stress. Like poor sleep, chronic stress causes the release of hormones that stop weight loss. Learning how to deal with life’s stressful situations is essential, albeit difficult. Getting help from a professional is worthwhile.
- Processed foods. The label might indicate that the food is suitable (low-fat, diet, low-carb, gluten-free etc) but this does not mean it suits your body, or has quality ingredients, or is nutritionally sound. Ditch the processed foods and choose fresh.
- It might be lovely to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine or your favourite drink, but it never does any favours for your weight loss progress. Alcohol can’t be stored in the body, so the time it takes to eliminate the alcohol is time that your body is not metabolising stored body fat.
- Drinking juice. Somehow the idea took hold that we need to drink juice at breakfast. Over time, it has become more acceptable to drink juices and smoothies as a healthy snack or meal option. In reality, a juice is just a drink of flavoured sugar with no fibre. Think of it this way: it takes perhaps three or four oranges to squeeze a glass of juice, which is very easy to drink along with your breakfast. Imagine instead eating those three or four oranges with your breakfast. Same calories, just a whole lot more difficult. The fibre in the whole fruit is filling and it helps slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, so you get full and stay full for much longer.
- Cheating, and not being honest about it. You may think you can get away with eating something you know is unwise, especially if nobody is there to see you do it. You just keep quiet about it, hide the evidence, and never say anything. While you might get away with it, your body knows.
If you’re trying to lose weight and just getting frustrated with your progress, give your nearest Healthy Inspirations centre a call. We’d love to help.