When we want to lose weight, we want to clear out every obstacle in our path so that we can get to our goal as easily as possible, right? (Doesn’t mean it will be easy, but a little thinking ahead can go a long way!)
We lay out our exercise clothes the night before so we have one less excuse in the morning.
We spend time on food prep so that we have healthy food to eat without adding to our stressful days.
We make rules – no eating after 7pm, no fried food, no liquid calories (I’m looking at you soda!) etc.
We think we’ve got it all figured out and get up on Day 1 pumped to do as much as we can and go as hard as we can to drop that weight!
And sometimes we don’t foresee the problems that can come with this enthusiasm for our goal.
There are a lot of things we tend to do when trying to lose weight that can seriously undermine our progress. Not getting enough sleep, having a few too many cheat meals or happy hour drinks, underestimating how much food we’re eating or overestimating how many calories we burned during exercise. It can all add up to extra months of “work” and a ton of frustration. Sometimes it can backfire and some of us will actually gain weight – when we think we’re doing things that are good for us. It’s confusing territory!
There are 3 traps I see people doing over and over again that seem to undermine their progress the most – and the worst part is that they really believe that these things are going to help them reach their goal. These are things I found myself doing too, the first few times I attempted to lose weight and I so wish I had done things a little differently. I’m sharing them today so that if you’re just getting started (and you’re so pumped to get there!!!) you don’t end up making some of the same mistakes.
Don’t do these things. Please. You’ll thank me later, I swear.
3 Common Traps to Avoid While You’re Losing Weight
- Doing hours and hours of cardio. Don’t do this. Cardio has it’s benefits – it’s good for our hearts and makes us feel good and yes, it does burn calories. But anytime we’re burning off body fat, we’re also breaking down muscle. That means, you may lose fat but in that weight loss, is some of your lean body mass. Muscle is important obviously for strength but it also affects how good we look in that body (at any size). Muscle gives our bodies shape. Do you want nice legs? Shapely arms? A curvy bum? Those aesthetics come from having muscle tone (or genetics). Instead of spinning your wheels on cardio machines every day of the week, a better strategy would be to incorporate a couple of strength training sessions into your weekly workouts which will help you maintain the muscle you currently have. Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights. You won’t bulk up (that takes major effort). You’ll still burn calories, get your heart rate up and when you do lose fat, you won’t have lost as much muscle – which will help you achieve the body shape you’re after. Strength training is also good for keeping our bones strong and you may find it less boring than repetitive cardio workouts. You’ll also see changes in your body that cardio alone wouldn’t give you. If you’re brand new to strength training, it’s a good idea to schedule a couple of sessions with a personal trainer who can teach you proper form. If you’ve done it before and just need some motivation or ideas, visit fitnessblender for free workouts.
- Eating a super low calorie diet for months at time. Don’t do this. In order to drop body fat, we have to eat less than our bodies require to maintain our weight, but some people take this a bit too far. They figure that if eating a little less brings them slow weight loss, why not eat a lot less for fast weight loss? Eating super low calorie for a long time isn’t sustainable. It might be ok for a few days but beyond that, if you aren’t eating enough, you won’t have the energy you need to get through your day, you’ll be irritable, you’ll have mood swings and you’ll find that you feel completely out of control around food. It will be all you think about and major restriction usually leads to us eventually eating too much to make up for it. Any progress you think you’ve made from serious restriction will be undone as soon as you let yourself go back to eating normally (which may appear in the form of a binge). A better strategy is to eat a little bit less than you usually do, eat a variety of whole nutritious foods and make sure that every meal and snack has protein, fiber and fat in it (to keep you satisfied). Slow might not be sexy, but it’ll get you there in one piece and help you make lifelong changes (which is what you’re really after anyway).
- Jumping around different dietary plans over and over. Don’t do this. For any dietary plan to work, you need to follow it pretty consistently for a significant period of time. It doesn’t matter whether it be something philosophical like intuitive eating / mindful eating or something structured like paleo or the mediterranean diet, if you don’t put in enough time with it, you won’t know if it is a good fit for you. So many people are afraid they are doing the “wrong” plan – because there is conflicting info about what diet is best and every where you turn, there is an advertisement for how someone lost weight doing x, y and z. Really, there is no such thing as the perfect or right “diet” and what works for me, may not work for you or vice versa. Nutritional science will frustrate the crap out of you because you can always find studies that will confirm or refute whatever plan you are following. You don’t have to jump to the newest and greatest thing to get great results (especially if a friend of a friend you’ve never met is selling it and they’re messaging you incessantly).
How do you know if you should stick to what you’ve started or you should try the newest thing? Well, answer these questions:
- Is what you are doing working?
- Do you feel satisfied eating the way you’re currently eating?
- Do you have enough energy and stamina to complete your workouts?
- Are you seeing positive changes to your body?
- Are your clothes fitting better?
If your answer is yes to most of these, then there is no reason to jump onto the latest diet or fitness trend. You need to go with your gut and your results. If you feel good on your current plan and it’s only been a short while – keep going! Jumping from plan to plan can leave us feeling like we’ve been working really hard without getting any results and feel like we are perpetually depriving ourselves – which can sometimes lead to lots of cheat meals and “I deserve to eat this” kind of thinking. Stay the course. If you’ve been following a plan really closely (be honest here) for 6-8 weeks and haven’t made any progress or don’t like how you feel, then it’s probably ok to try something else. But please don’t feel pressured to try the latest and greatest diet out there – it’s not necessary.
If you’re finding yourself caught in these common pitfalls of weight loss and need help prioritizing and getting those obstacles out of your way, I’m here to help. Let’s set up a call as soon as you are free! Go here to do that.
Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldn‘t Be a Workout: Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).