Anyone who knows me is well aware of my “health freak” tendencies. However, I do make a conscious effort not to shove my lifestyle choices down others' throats. (Or, more appropriately, prevent others from shoving Big Macs down theirs.)
Don't get me wrong; my eating habits weren't always stellar. I shamelessly subsisted on ramen and microwaveable “meals” all throughout my sophomore year of college, and couldn't have told you what the inside of my school's gym looked like.
However, since I am now adamant about eating healthy and working out regularly, I do have a decent amount of knowledge about what to do and what not to do when trying to lose weight.
Based on my experiences, here are five common weight loss mistakes, and what to do instead:
1. Justifying: “Well, I spent an hour at the gym today. I totally deserve taco bell for dinner.”
Negative. You just can't out-exercise a bad diet. Therefore, if you're serious about losing weight, you need to rethink your meal choices.
I know people who will slave away in the gym for hours, just to come home and pig out on carb-loaded, calorie-heavy meals or fast food. Don't throw away all your hard work because you can't turn down junk.
It's not exactly easy to resist temptations (pizza will always sound more appetizing than a salad), but your body will thank you for your wise choices. Plus, lots of exercise + a healthy diet = faster results. And, who doesn't want that?
2. Having long sessions of cardio, at a moderate pace throughout
If you want to see positive improvements in your body, it's time to switch up your workouts. Not only does your body gets used to the same tedious workouts every day, but it's also much more beneficial to try interval training.
This type of exercise involves a series of low-to-high-intensity workouts interspersed with rest periods.
These workouts are more difficult, but that's also why they work. I do interval workouts on both the treadmill and the elliptical, but try different ones out and figure out what works best for you.
3. Following weird fad/celebrity diet plans
First of all, there's a good chance fad diets will just make you hungry and miserable. Second, you're making things way more complicated than they have to be.
Instead, stick to healthy, natural foods as much as you can. That means primarily lean meats, fruits and vegetables.
While a treat here and there won't kill anyone, generally avoiding processed foods will help you stick to your weight loss goals.
I don't advocate for becoming too obsessive about counting calories (been there, done that -- definitely not worth it), but there are some great apps that can help you stay aware of how much you're eating.
Tracking your daily intake is a great start for maintaining better control of your eating habits.
4. Not eating breakfast
It's been ingrained in everyone's minds for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it's unadvisable to skip it. However, many people still do.
The problem is, skipping breakfast leads to an increased chance of overeating later in the day.
I'm not saying you need to have an extravagant feast, but eat something substantial and nutritious to kick start your day.
Some healthy breakfast choices are oatmeal, whole-grain waffles, fruit or hard-boiled eggs. Avoid those sugary cereals or carb-heavy bagels.
5. Yo-yo dieting
You had a great week of super healthy eating and killer workout sessions.
However, once the weekend rolls around, you make some less-than-ideal eating choices (ordering take-out Chinese with your roomies just sounded too good to pass up), and then one bad decision turns into a bad-decision weekend.
Of course, due to the inevitable food coma, you are unable to find any motivation to hit the gym at all. You tell yourself you'll make up for it on Monday, but then end up thinking, “Hey, I already ruined my diet; one more Chick-fil-A sandwich won't hurt.”
Eventually, you get back on the healthy-eating train, only to ruin your efforts again by bingeing away.
Bad news: You are officially stuck in the yo-yo diet cycle. It's a vicious one, and you'll never truly be able to accomplish your goals until you realize diets aren't about perfection.
Instead, they are about engaging in a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, try adopting the 80/20 rule. (Hey, even Victoria's Secret models go by this one.) Eat healthy 80 percent of the time, and treat yourself 20 percent of the time.
Allowing a little bit of leeway to indulge will prevent you from being too restrictive with your habits, which will cause you to overindulge when certain opportunities present themselves.
Losing weight isn't a simple process. It takes willpower and perseverance, and it's increasingly important to remember that a few setbacks are not the end of the world.
Have confidence in your abilities to achieve your goals; although it may be a bumpy road, you WILL get there!