Losing weight is a common, yet complex goal that many of us set to improve our health. Even though it can be easy to renew this promise to yourself each New Year, there are likely real reasons why you haven't hit your weight goal yet (and not we're not talking about just a "slow" metabolism).
Below, I walk us through eight of the biggest obstacles that cause so much frustration when it comes to losing the extra weight. Identify which of these behaviors might be holding you back, and make a change today!
1. Thinking that "healthy" always equals "weight loss"
Let me explain. A food or beverage choice can be healthy, but that doesn't mean it's helping you with your weight loss goals. Consider an avocado. Avocados are typically seen as a healthy and nutritious choice, with heart-healthy fats and fiber. But just because something is healthy doesn't mean that it's calorie-free and can be eaten in unlimited quantities. We have to plan for meals and snacks that support each of our unique weight loss plans.
2. Forgetting to pay attention to portions
This one trips up even the most diligent of us. Though we have poured our morning cereal into the same bowl for the last year, the cereal itself seems to have mysteriously multiplied in size! Be sure you're not getting heavy-handed with your favorite foods, as even a little extra could be the thing that's holding you back. Take for example, olive oil. It's heart-healthy and great for sautéing, but the difference between a short spray and several teaspoons could easily be 200+ calories.
3. Not really reading food labels
Nutrition Facts Labels are actually an excellent source of information when we want to learn more about what's in a food. But I'd be lying if I said food labels weren't confusing.
Make sure you're interpreting the facts correctly by double checking the items that trip people up the most – the serving size, the servings per container, and the calories.
4. Doing the same workout routine
If you've been at the same exercises for some time now, you might need to shake things up. It's important to continuously challenge your body, because you're likely getting stronger and more conditioned if you're keeping consistent with regular physical activity. To prevent boredom from setting in, think about using the F.I.T.T. principle. F.I.T.T. stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type. I always ask my clients, "What can you do different to get different?"
5. Sabotaging yourself
We've all done it before: you hit a hard workout and then allow yourself a cookie (or two or three), "Because I worked out today!" I've touched on this big diet mistake before, so don't let yourself fall culprit to this negative thinking. Remember, you can't out-exercise poor eating habits!
6. Practicing "cheat days"
We've already told you how registered dietitians really feel about cheat days, and this can be a big problem for people who can't lose the extra weight. Make sure you're thinking about your eating habits as a whole and not hyper-focusing on one meal, snack, or day. It's about the bigger picture of how you're eating healthier to lose weight.
7. Reaching for the unreachable
I hate to break it to ya, but weight loss can't be only about getting back to your college size. The reality is it may never happen, and that's okay! Dig deep and find out why you're really doing this for yourself. Remember that even a small weight loss (such as 5-10%) will benefit your health. You may see improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, or even your blood sugar levels.
8. Giving up
The human body is complex and isn't always the best at adapting to change. My participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program often feel defeated when the scale won't budge, but when they stick to their healthy habits instead of throwing in the towel, they finally see results after a few weeks. Remember, you likely didn't put on your extra weight overnight, so it won't come off overnight either. Don't give up!
Lastly, if you're on the right track with all of these strategies and still aren't seeing results, don't be afraid to reach out for help. The YMCA of Middle Tennessee staffs Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and Personal Trainers at many of their centers. Find a center near you.