Weight loss is one of those issues where everyone has a different opinion or solution. It’s also one of the largest industries in the world which means we are constantly bombarded with advertising offering quick and easy ways to lose weight. I have been involved in the fitness industry for over 10 years and I can tell you that when it comes to weight loss, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, especially if you want to keep the weight off over time.
There is no substitute in my opinion for eating well and exercising regularly as the cornerstone for any sustainable weight loss program. Having said this there are some common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight which can really sabotage their best efforts, here’s my top ten:
1. Skipping Breakfast – It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that not eating breakfast is going to assist with weight loss. Take it from me that this will have exactly the opposite effect! Skipping breakfast will slow down your metabolism, can lead to overeating later in the day and encourages sugar cravings. Some example of quick and healthy breakfast ideas include oats, berries, omelettes or greek yogurt and natural muesli (watch the sugar content).
2. Diet Soft Drink – Trust me when I say that diet soft drink is the enemy. Most diet soft drinks are made up of synthetic chemicals that offer absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. I would honestly prefer my clients drank the regular sugar filled versions if they absolutely had to have some (and that is NOT an invitation for any clients that might be reading this). I have met many people who were consuming literally litres of diet soft drink a day and then wondering why they are unable to lose weight. You have to ditch diet soft drink and replace it with water. Drinking water throughout the day will help flush the toxins from your body which will help your body work more efficiently and improve your digestion. If you find normal water hard to drink in quantity, buy some sparkling water and add some fresh lemon or lime.
3. Too Much Fruit – Fruit is very good for you but eating it all day is not going to help you lose weight as its filled with fructose. This is a simple sugar that occurs naturally in fruit and gives it its sweetness. Even though its natural it’s still a sugar and therefore will create a spike in your blood sugar levels. For weight loss the best fruits to eat are berries (the darker the better) and try to have these with your breakfast. Berries can also be great to have on hand to deal with sugar cravings.
4. Overtraining – I see this a lot in people who adopt an all or nothing approach to weight loss. They will go from nothing to doing two training sessions a day, which can be dangerous and often end up with them getting an injury. Quality not quantity and variety is the key to training for weight loss. Everyone is different so I am not going to recommend a specific training plan here, but instead I would recommend you speak to a certified Personal Trainer, tell them your weight loss goals and ask them to design a program for you that suits your needs. As a very general rule of thumb you should be aiming for two weight or resistance sessions a week and 3-4 different cardio sessions. You also need to make sure you have at least one rest day to allow your body time to recover.
5. Not Eating Enough – Being hungry is a sure fire way to get off track with your eating as it’s just too easy to grab to closest thing which almost always is made from chocolate right? Starving yourself if not going to help you lose weight and keep it off, in fact eating portion sized meals 5-6 times a day is what you should be aiming for. An example would be breakfast at 7AM, morning tea at 10AM, lunch at 1PM, afternoon tea at 3PM, dinner at 6PM and then possibly another snack before bed depending on what time you go to sleep at night. I know it’s sounds crazy but to lose weight you should almost always be eating something and never be hungry.
6. All or Nothing Approach – I mentioned this above when it comes to training, but I see this far more often when it comes to food. You might be out somewhere for dinner or one day you might just crack and indulge in a massive chocolate bar or some lollies. This is NOT going to wreck all your hard work to date and does not mean you have to wait until next Monday to start all over again! None of us are perfect and it’s OK to have a cheat meal once in a while. If you do indulge, don’t beat yourself up, put in behind you and focus on making your next meal a good one.
7. Not Being Organised – In my opinion this is number one when it comes to sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Losing weight requires determination but most of all being organised. You need make sure you have the right food on hand at home and also with you when you are at work. This requires real planning and effort. Make sure you are also organised when it comes to your training too, set aside the exact time you will train each day and know what you are going to do. After a few weeks this will become habit, but to start with you might consciously need think about each day to get yourself into a new rhythm.
8. Unrealistic Expectations – If your weight gain has taken a while to put on then it’s just not realistic to expect it all to come off in a couple of weeks. We are constantly subjected to diet advertising that promises fast results, but have you ever purchased or taken part in a ‘magic diet’ that really worked out over a long period of time? I have a lot of clients come to me because they have tried everything in the past and the first thing I tell them is to have realistic expectations when it comes to how long it will take. As a very general rule if you are eating and training properly it should be possible to lose and maintain a weight loss of around 0.5-1kg a week.
9. Meal Replacements – This one gets my blood boiling a little as I see it as the ultimate short term fix. Its marketed as the fast weight loss option but in reality nothing can replace real whole foods when it comes to putting nutrients in your body. These type of diets are marketing as ‘easy’ and ‘ideal for the busy person’ and you will probably lose a few kilos quite quickly, but the vast number of people I have met tend to put it all on again and then some when they return to eating normally.
10. Alcohol – Alcohol in general is full of sugar, especially beer and wine so it’s no different to drinking soft drink, except that you will probably have more than one drink at a time! A lot of times you will also be eating when you are drinking alcohol which can lead to bad decisions being made and fat storage in the body. My advice is to give alcohol a miss if you are focussing on losing weight but if you absolutely have to have a drink, then a vodka lime and soda with fresh lime is your best option.
Hopefully, some of my top ten rang true for you and might help you think about weight loss in a different way. I believe it’s really important to break the cycle of the ‘diet’ mentality and instead start to think about food in terms of nourishing your body rather than ‘losing 5 kg fast’.
Maintaining a healthy weight and having a positive ongoing relationship with food is the key to living a long and healthy life. Sure it might take a few weeks or months of real focus to get to where you want to be initially, but once you are there it’s important to think about how you can create some balance, as this is the only way to stop the diet and ‘yoyo’ cycle forever.
If you would like a great program and some structure & support at start of your weight loss, click here to check out my #noexcuses 8 week weight loss program.
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