I know a lot of people struggle with losing weight and getting fit; and I also understand that there are some factors that we don’t control that can influence how easily we can change our weight. Things like age, gender, illness, food addictions and cravings, and even life commitments can make it more difficult for some people to lose weight. While some people may have to work harder than others to get fit and lose weight, there is no reason (except perhaps for some rare medical condition) that will actually stop you from losing weight.
Committing to eating right, getting more active, and generally making better choices in your day to day life all will contribute to a healthier you. The obstacles in your way are no excuse for why you can’t do it, because each of us has our own unique problems and obstacles, but we are still capable of roughly the same results.
Now that my disclaimer is done, let’s say that you have been trying to lose weight, but you haven’t been successful, or maybe you just want to lose a few pounds; this post is intended to identify some of the common mistakes I see people making day to day while trying to get healthier and lose weight. Learn from the mistakes of others so you don’t have to suffer through them!
- Counting calories
Counting calories might be the number one mistake I see people making when they are trying to lose weight. For many different reasons, counting calories to lose weight is a failed and ineffective way to lose weight, and while controlling your portions and eating less can certainly be a great way to lose a little bit of weight, counting calories has several major disadvantages.
Counting calories actually shuts down your metabolism, and not only does this mean that the results you see in the beginning of calorie counting will diminish, but if you decide to go off of your diet for a week of fun or if you go back to eating normally, then you will likely gain back all of the weight you lost and more. Counting calories is also a trick that people often use to still eat the same bad foods they are used to. They set a calorie limit of 1500 calories a day and eat a bacon egg and cheese biscuit for breakfast and a whopper and fries after work and they think that they will lose weight.
Many other factors affect fat and weight loss, it is not strictly a numbers game of eating less calories than you burn; hormones, the foods that you eat, your activity level, and the timing of your meals all play a role in how you gain or lose body fat. Don’t make this beginner’s mistake.
- Going low fat
Unfortunately a lot of people fall into the low fat diet myth. They think that if they eat less fat, not only will their calorie intake go down (because fat has more calories per gram than carbs or protein), but they also assume that not eating fat will make you not have fat; this is far from the truth as carbohydrates are far more likely to produce the insulin spike that will force your body into fat storage mode.
Fats are a vital part of a healthy diet, and while people should change the types of fats that they consume to better lose weight, avoiding good fats like grass fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, fish, seeds, avocados, and dark chocolate can actually make you less likely to lose body fat. 1 major study showed that people who eat 2 serving of nuts each day while dieting lose 30% more weight than others who didn’t eat nuts at all. Don’t cut the fat, change the fats you eat instead.
- Not eating enough protein
Many people get on the low fat and low calorie kick and start eating massive amounts of carbohydrates because they believe carbs will return the energy they lose while dieting, but not getting enough protein can cause you to lose muscle mass. Muscle weighs more than fat, so when you cut out protein from your diet, there is a good chance that you will lose weight, but you are likely losing the crucial muscle mass that gives your body shape and muscle tone.
Especially if you are getting active and pushing yourself in the gym, you need to be sure that you are taking in a good amount of protein. Protein keeps you full longer, helps repair and protect your muscle mass, and it helps your energy levels stay more stable.
- Not meal prepping
Meal prepping may not be a requirement to get healthy, but in my opinion it should be. When you take the time to meal prep you know exactly what foods you are eating and what is in them, and you have no excuse not to eat healthy foods, because you already have them prepared for you at home.
Meal prepping provides you better control over your diet, it provides structure, and it helps you transition out of unhealthy eating and into better habits. When you meal prep, you prepare what you know you should be eating instead of what you are craving in the moment ,and that can help you lose weight.
- Still putting yourself around foods you shouldn’t eat
If you starve me for 3 days on a 1500 calorie a day diet, you subject me to high amounts of exercise, and you put a cookie in my face and offer it to me, do you know what I will probably do? I will probably eat the damn cookie!
People make this mistake all the time; they go on a diet, take all this time to plan healthy foods and snacks, and then they still go out to restaurants, subject themselves to situations and places where there are unhealthy foods, or they buy unhealthy treats for their kids or spouses because they are used to them. If you don’t want to eat unhealthy foods, and if you really want to lose weight, then don’t be around junk food: it is really that simple.
- Focusing too much on the short term results
Another, oh too common, mistake I see people make is falling for the old crash diet routine. They read somewhere that this new diet will help them lose 14lbs in 2 weeks and they go crazy for two weeks only to give up when it doesn’t work.
Losing weight isn’t meant to happen overnight; if our bodies could drop 15 lbs in two weeks from eating 1500 calories a day, most of us would be malnourished or dead. Our bodies evolved to hold onto excess nutrients as body fat so that we can survive in times where food is scarce (like winter). Your body doesn’t want to lose weight, trust me on this one, so the only way to do it right is to dig in and plan for the long term.
A good goal is to lose 1 or 2 lbs per week, and if you stick with it that can add up to 50-100lbs in a year! When it comes to weight loss, think long term for the best results.
These six mistakes are too common when it comes to people trying to lose weight. SO many people fall into these traps and false ways of thinking, and when they don’t get the results that they want they end up giving up and just accept being overweight.
No one has to be overweight or unhappy with their body or weight and if you want to look different you have the ability to do it!