With the thousands of weight-loss programs out there, it seems like 90 percent of the people I meet are on some type of diet. If you’re a part of that group, hopefully you’re off to a great start. Unfortunately, getting in shape isn’t always easy— so for those of you who aren’t seeing results yet, I am sure you are experiencing some frustration. But don’t give up! Remember, you didn’t gain the weight overnight, so why expect to lose it overnight?
Many dieters tend to make similar mistakes when trying to lose weight. But being aware of these mistakes and making small mental and physical changes can help you lose the weight and keep it off for good.
Here are my six mistakes to avoid:
1. DON’T GET STUCK ON THE SCALE
Some people will lose a lot of weight in the first couple weeks and some may not lose any. This can be the case even if you’re doing everything right. Do not compare yourself to others! Sometimes (like with me) it takes a little longer to see the results of your hard work on the scale. Eating right and exercising regularly has positive impacts on your health in other ways that may not be so visible, such as: more energy, less stress, better sleep and a reduction in risk of disease. You will reap those benefits no matter what the scale reads.
2. BE REALISTIC
One of the biggest mistakes dieters make is having unrealistic weight-loss expectations. You should be losing one to two pounds a week, not five to 10. If you lose it slower, you are more likely to keep it off in the long run. Studies show that those who lose weight rapidly are more likely to gain it back … and then some! When you start feeling discouraged, think back to where you started. So what if the first month you only lost four pounds? That’s four pounds closer to your goal than you were last month!
3. WEIGHT LOSS IS RARELY CONSTANT FROM WEEK TO WEEK
Most who try to lose weight will lose quite a bit in the beginning weeks and then the weight loss slows down. It is totally normal to have some weeks when you lose more than expected and others where the weight stays the same, despite your consistent efforts. Remember, just because the number on the scale doesn’t change, it doesn’t mean your body composition isn’t. You could be losing body fat and gaining lean muscle. Assess your progress by testing your body fat, circumference measurements of your chest, waist, hips, biceps and thigh, and take progress pictures.
4. WEIGHT LOSS MAY NOT BE IMMEDIATE
Just because you cut calories today from diet and exercise, it doesn’t mean it will show up on the scale at the end of the day or even the next. Weight fluctuates from day to day. If you step on the scale in the morning and then again at night, you may notice a two- to seven-pound increase due to the food and water you consumed throughout the day. If you are stressed, menstruating, sick, sore, etc., those are all going to affect the number as well. Don’t stress! These fluctuations are not permanent! Similarly, weighing yourself after wearing a sweat suit, sitting in a sauna or finishing an intense workout may show a loss on the scale. This is just temporary water loss that will come back after you hydrate yourself by drinking. Remember, you are trying to lose fat, not just “weight” or water weight.
5. EATING LESS IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that the less they eat, the faster they will lose the weight. If your body is not getting enough nutrients and calories, your metabolism will slow down. This happens if you are eating substantially less than your recommended caloric range and is called “starvation mode.” Your body thinks you aren’t going to feed it again, so it holds on to what you fed it last as long as possible, slowing down your metabolism and making weight loss extremely slow and weight gain more likely. Try breaking up your calories into smaller meals every two to three hours throughout the day.
6. SETBACKS ARE NORMAL
No matter how hard you try, you will experience some bumps in the road. No one is perfect! Do not let those small bumps sideline you and veer you totally off track. Learn from them and move on. This reminds me of a great quote: “Do not look back, you aren’t going that way!” :)
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid many of the common mistakes dieters face, and deal with the ups and downs of weight loss more easily. Hang in there! It’s not always easy, but you can do it!