We often see a lot of our clients frustrated with their weight loss. They try really hard to avoid candy, sugary drinks and soda but they still don’t get the results they’d like. It’s so easy to get frustrated and want to throw in the towel altogether. While diet culture may have influenced you to think that you’re a failure if you don’t stick to a certain diet or way of eating, losing weight is so much more than just counting calories and exercising. This article will reflect upon the most commons weight loss mistakes that we tend to make.
It’s a complete mental shift to start thinking of your weight loss as a journey and take all of your health into consideration – starting with eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods, getting regular exercise, getting at least 6-8 hours of quality sleep, supporting your mental health and most of all believing in yourself and your ability to lose weight and keep it off.
Top Five Reasons That Sabotage Your Weight Loss
1. Hidden Sugar
You might be trying to avoid many sugary foods and don’t realize that there is a lot of hidden sugar in many of the foods you see on the shelves of a supermarket.
The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) for men and no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) for women per day. Here are some examples of the foods that have added sugar that might sabotage your weight loss goals: pasta sauce, salad dressings, condiments like ketchup, yogurt, cottage cheese and many snack bars.
For example, you are running late for work and don’t have time to make your breakfast. You go through a Starbucks drive through to get some coffee (Venti Caramel Macchiato has whopping 42.1 grams of sugar (about 11 teaspoons) or Venti Chai Tea Latte (52 grams of sugar around 13 teaspoons) and then you grab a cinnamon raisin bagel (11 grams of sugar) or a blueberry muffin (20 grams of sugar).
Let’s do some quick math:
- Starbucks Venti Caramel Macchiato – 42.1 grams of sugar
- Starbucks Blueberry Muffin – 20 grams of sugar
Total: 42.1 + 20 = 62.1 grams of sugar (14.8 teaspoons of sugar) just for breakfast. You can see where it’s easy to consume too much sugar before you even get to your lunch and sabotage your weight loss goals.
2. Eating a Big Meal at Night
We see clients often make this common weight loss mistake by eating their dinner late at night and make it the biggest meal of the day. Ideally, you should eat a smaller dinner and around 5 or 6 p.m. Anything we don’t burn for fuel within three hours gets stored as body fat. In addition, eating highly processed, sugary foods will lead to blood sugar issues and make it more difficult to lose weight and keep it off.
We often develop some bad coping habits and eat a lot of salty and sugary snacks while watching TV. The easiest way to help correct this bad habit is to make sure that you stock your pantry with some healthy snacks and get rid of sugary, salty and highly processed snacks.
It’s very easy to overeat and consume too many calories at night. If you are still hungry after dinner, choose some low glycemic and low carb snacks, such as a handful of berries or fresh veggies with a tablespoon or two of hummus to satisfy your nighttime cravings. In case you feel stressed at night, practice some mindfulness techniques to help you manage stress better. If you notice that you are dealing with stress and anxiety by overeating, find a mental health counselor or a psychologist that can help you deal with negative emotions. We all go through difficult times in our lives and might need some extra help.
It’s also a great idea to go for a walk after your dinner to help move your body and burn extra calories. You’ll also be able to sleep better and have more energy the next day.
Here are some great meals ideas to have at night:
- Soup with some multigrain crackers or toast
- Multigrain wrap with some chicken and veggies
3. Weight Loss Mindset
Losing weight is so much more than just counting calories and exercising. Your mindset is very important to achieving your health and wellness goals.
Optimal health truly begins with a positive mental attitude. Research studies show that the thoughts and emotions we feel on a regular basis determine to a very large extent the level of health we experience, as well as the quality of our lives. Life is full of events that are beyond our control, but we do have full control over our responses to these events. Our attitude goes a long way in determining how we view and respond to all of the challenges of life. We all will be much happier, healthier, and much more successful if we adopt a positive mental attitude rather than a negative view.
Another common weight loss mistake is our mindset. Studies show that individuals with a negative attitude have poorer health, are prone to anxiety and depression, are more frequent users of medical and mental health care, and show more decline in memory and brain function.
When you adopt a positive mindset, you’ll be able to reach your weight loss goals faster. Here are some quotes to help you adopt a positive mindset:
- “Today, I chose to be the most beautiful version of myself, inside and out.” – Unknown
- “I am resilient and can get through anything.” – Unknown
- “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John Maxwell
- “Be happy with what you have, while working for what you want.” – Hellen Keller
- “Focus on the whole step in front of you, not the whole staircase.” – Unknown
- “There is not failure. You either win or you learn.” – Unknown
- “Talk to yourself like someone you love.” – Brene Brown
- “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” – Brene Brown
We always encourage our clients to get out of the dieting mindset and quick fix diets, and implement new healthier habits to help lose weight and maintain it. Here are some things to keep in mind as you are trying to change your mindset when it comes to weight loss:
- Strive for progress, not perfection
- Expect defeats, but never quit
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Find an accountability partner
- Celebrate your wins
Stress affects all areas of our health and especially your weight loss. When you are chronically stressed, it can lead to imbalanced blood sugar and high cortisol which contributes to higher fat storage and will affect your body’s resistance of weight loss. This indirectly makes up for the next weight loss mistake, that one can make.
We all know that it’s almost impossible to avoid stress in your life. Learning to calm the mind and body is very important in decreasing stress. One of the easiest methods for anyone to learn are relaxation exercises.
The main goal of relaxation techniques is to produce a physiological response known as a relaxation response – a response that is exactly the opposite to the stress response that activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system controls bodily functions such breathing, digestion, and heart rate during periods of rest, visualization, relaxation, meditation and sleep. Although the sympathetic nervous system is designed to protect us against danger, the parasympathetic system is designed for repair, maintenance, and healing of our body.
We often adopt negative coping patterns when dealing with stress:
- Too much TV and phone scrolling
- Excessive behavior
- Emotional outbursts
- Feelings of sadness and helplessness
- Dependence on chemicals: drugs, alcohol, tobacco/nicotene
When we adopt negative coping mechanisms such as overeating, it will often sabotage our weight loss goals. I always teach my clients to learn one of the most popular techniques for producing a relaxation response is progressive relaxation. In progressive relaxation, a person is taught what it feels like to relax by comparing relaxation with muscle tension.
The basic technique is to contract a muscle for a short period of time (one to two seconds) and then relax that muscle. Continue the process while going through all the muscles of your body, which progressively produces a deep state of relaxation. You start with your face and finish with your feet. This whole process is repeated two or three times.
Don’t forget to take at least 10-30 minutes a day to practice mindfulness and destress. Some of great ways to do it are daily walks, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, meditation, dancing, spending quality time with your family, reading a book, coloring, massage, deep breathing, yoga, and tai chi. Some of my favorite meditation apps are Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace and Inscape.
5. Not Enough Sleep for Weight Loss
Sleep is super important for our optimal health and wellness. Sleep issues and sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on mental and physical function. Many health issues, especially depression, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular issues, and chronic fatigue are either entirely or partially connected to sleep deprivation.
You should try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that sleep-deprived people are more likely to crave sugary foods and have increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cognitive decline. A poor night of rest increases one of your stress hormones called cortisol, which slows down the production of your growth hormone. Your growth hormone plays an important role in your metabolism.
A poor night of sleep also affects your insulin sensitivity as it occurs at night. Your body becomes more sensitivity to insulin during sleep. For example, just one single night of sleep deprivation causes a 40% reduction in your ability to handle glucose which can lead to weight gain and blood sugar issues.
Sleep is also important for the production of your growth hormone. Growth hormone increases our lean body mass. It also helps us burn fat for fuel. Growth hormone improves bone mineral density, blood sugar regulation, liver regeneration, and overall protects our body from aging. This is one more reason why we need to prioritize sleep to optimize our hormones.
In addition, sleep deprivation will also affect your hormone production (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). Studies show that women tend to require more sleep than men.
Here are some great sleep tips:
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark before bedtime
- Eat nutrient-dense meals to support your sleep and to balance blood sugar
- Avoid screen time for 1-2 hours before bed.
- Spend 10-30 minutes outside in the morning to reset your circadian rhythm
- Spend a little bit of time without screens upon waking
- Balance your blood sugar and achieve optimal weight
- Take an afternoon break
- Take a break from social media
- Prioritize sleep
- Practice active relaxation and meditations
- Write down your worries and to-do list before going to your bedroom
- Take a relaxing bath with magnesium salts
- Aim to exercise at least 15-30 minutes a day
If you start prioritizing your sleep, you would be able to reach your weight loss goals faster.
Weight loss is a journey and it takes time to lose weight and improve your metabolism. Don’t give up! Keep moving forward! Being hard on yourself puts your body into an anxiety state, which increases your stress hormones like cortisol and can further lead to food cravings and overeating. Embrace your imperfections and motivate yourself from a place of love.
Most importantly, if you need support, guidance and accountability, our HealthifyMe coaches would be happy to get you started on your weight loss journey. Don’t struggle alone! Sign up today to get started with your health and wellness goals.