Rewind three-and-a-half months to January. You’ve woken up, feeling the after effects of last night’s celebration, and resolved to make a change in the new year. The goal? To lose weight. Fast forward to today. You’ve cut out the fast food, revamped your diet and committed to an exercise routine. But the numbers on the scale haven’t budged at all. Why?
Mistake No. 1: You’re not eating enough
Very-low-calorie diets may create a quick initial weight loss, but when hunger, boredom or life circumstances get in the way, these unrealistic plans can become too hard to stick to. This could lead to that familiar diet/binge cycle of eating, causing someone to feel badly about themselves.
When you really cut back on calories, your body thinks you’re in trouble, urging it into starvation mode, and it slows down a lot of the functions that are necessary to burn calories — including your thyroid, metabolism and blood pressure. What’s more, as a woman, it can make your period irregular, which can affect your hormones and lead to weight gain. And at the end of the day, the battle of the binge is a hard one to win.
Mistake No. 2: You’re cutting out entire food groups
Any diet that wants you to eliminate carbs, protein or fat is one that you should walk away from. Your body needs a certain amount of nutrients, including all of the above plus the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that comes along with those foods.
While determining a set percentage of macronutrients is highly subjective, it’s a good idea to start with 50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat, and adjust from there. Dietitians recommend whole grains, lean meats and seafood for protein, and avocado and nuts for fats.
Mistake No. 3: You’re exercising a lot, but ingoring your diet
Lots of people are overweight because they exercise a lot, thinking it will compensate for excessive and unnecessary eating. Dietitians urge us to remember that at the end of the day, our weight comes down to 70 percent diet and 30 percent exercise. So, if you want to see success in the mirror at the gym, and on the scale, it’s time to take a closer look at the choices you’re making in the kitchen.
Mistake No. 4: You’re sitting at a desk all day
If you have an Apple Watch, Fitbit or other activity tracker, you may quickly grow tired of the buzzing reminder to get up and move throughout the workday — who has time for that? But there’s a reason that these trackers come equipped with these types of notifications: That hour at the gym may not be enough to combat the eight you spend sitting on your butt. According to researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia, when you sit for hours at a time without any movement, your body stops producing lipase, a fat-inhibiting enzyme that can be a big help in trying to achieve your weight-loss goals. And another study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people stood up and stretched once an hour, they saw a boost in metabolism of roughly 13 percent.
Mistake No. 5: You’re not getting enough sleep
Lack of sleep can affect hormones, ultimately affecting metabolism. A study presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity found that those who got less than four hours of sleep a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who got the recommended seven to nine hours of rest. When you’re sleep deprived, you have less willpower and poor decision-making skills, meaning you’re more likely to choose foods that will inhibit your weight loss.