The road to successful weight loss may be paved with good intentions, but there are also many potential pitfalls littered along the way too. However, anyone embarking on a weight loss diet needs to know that the odd slip here or there doesn’t mean that all their hard work has been for nothing. The following are ten common mistakes people make when following a weight loss diet, with tips on how to deal with them:
“If I skip breakfast I’ll lose weight.”
Research shows that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t. This is because eating breakfast gives structure to your daily eating plan as well as providing you with enough energy to get you through the morning. Skip breakfast and you’re more likely to over-eat mid-morning when your body starts to crave food. Furthermore, if there is no nutritious food around, then you’ll probably eat calorie-laden snacks. If you find it difficult to eat a proper breakfast first thing in the morning, try a few pieces of chopped-up fruit or a slice of toasted bread.
“I’m giving up because I’m not getting anywhere.”
Just as you didn’t become overweight in a few days, it’s also unlikely that you’ll lose your excess pounds in the space of 48 hours. Slow and steady is the best way to lose weight and ensure that it stays off. It takes time to educate your body to expect less food and develop sensible eating habits. Stick with it. Don’t weigh yourself every day – once a week is enough.
“There’s no point in sticking to my diet as I had a hamburger for lunch.”
One hamburger does not a failed diet make! In fact, there’s even more reason to stick to your diet if you had a hamburger for lunch. Many dieters adopt the attitude that if they slip up and eat something that’s not included in their diet then they should just abandon it for the rest of the day and eat whatever they like. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you slip up, and don’t look for comfort in food. Ask yourself why your slip happened, so that next time you can recognize the triggers and act accordingly.
“If I eat the kids’ leftovers then I’ll save calories.”
Eating this way could very well result in consuming more calories than eating your regular evening meal. It’s difficult to keep a count on how much food you’ve eaten when you pick at leftovers: you’re not seeing all the food you’re eating together on a plate so it’s easy to kid yourself that you’re not eating much at all. If you could see exactly what you’ve eaten you could very well be shocked. Don’t be tempted to eat your family’s leftovers. Prepare yourself a proper meal so you can see exactly how much you’re consuming.
“I’m on vacation so I can eat what I want.”
Successful weight loss is about more than dieting; it’s about making a lifestyle change. You need to get into the habit of eating sensibly all the time. While there’s no reason why you shouldn’t cut yourself some slack while on vacation, don’t get into the habit of giving yourself excuses to eat what and when you want.
“I can eat what I want now that I’ve exercised.”
Exercise is important to maintaining good health and should be done on a regular basis, ideally every day (even if it’s just a 30-minute walk). This means that if you reward yourself with food that isn’t part of your regular diet every time you exercise, you will have to diet for a long time before you see any results. If you’ve worked extra hard in the gym, then reward yourself by taking things a little more leisurely next time you’re there (spend more time in the sauna and less on the treadmill!).
“I’m going to follow the same diet my friend did as she lost lots of weight.”
While this strategy may work, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t. Everyone has to find out what works for them where dieting and exercise are concerned. Maybe your friend was at the gym seven evenings a week and cut out only bread from her diet. This may not work for you. Follow a sensible eating plan and incorporate an exercise or sport that you enjoy into your schedule. You’ll then be able to see what’s going to bring results.
“I can’t diet as I attend business lunches.”
It’s possible to eat out often and still lose weight; you just need to know which choices to make. If you’ve tried dieting before, you probably know about nutrition and calorie content so should be able to make wise choices when eating out. Beware of alcohol though; it contains empty calories (little nutritional value for its calorie count), so it’s best avoided, or kept to a minimum.
“I’ll lose weight if I stick to low-fat foods.”
Many dieters do stick to low-fat foods and lose weight. However, if you’re concerned about your overall health and want the weight you lose to stay off then you’re better off avoiding these foods. Low-fat foods are generally heavily processed and contain little of any nutritional value. Furthermore, they’re usually versions of foods that have a relatively high calorie content (e.g. ice cream, cheese, chips). So if you want to educate your body to be content with less of these items, then eating low-fat versions won’t achieve that. In addition, people who eat low-fat foods think that they can eat as much of them as they like simply because they’re low-fat. You’re much better off sticking to the regular versions and eating a small portion – this will satisfy your appetite and help you get into the habit of being able to control the amount you eat.
"I’ve got to make this diet work as my partner hates my body."
People who embark on diets because they want to please others rarely succeed. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you have to want to do it for yourself, no one else. A lifestyle change is something that’s not to be embarked upon lightly, because it requires dedication, commitment, and lots of hard work. You’re the one who’s going to have to say no to the foods you love, so you need to be sure that the sacrifice you make will be worth the benefits it brings.
There is no perfect weight loss diet, and there is no perfect dieter. What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. If you’re committed to losing weight, then take it slowly and steadily. Eat sensibly, exercise regularly, and you’ll be able to adopt a healthy lifestyle which will benefit you now and in the future.