EATING TOO MUCH:
This one seems fairly obvious, yet many people underestimate the number of calories they consume and overestimate the number of calories they expend during exercise. Portion control is limitless in this country — ‘supersize’ this, ‘giant’ that — our perception of a normal-sized meal is completely skewed.
The Fix: If you have no idea how much you’re eating, I suggest checking out the nutrition labels to evaluate serving size. Many foods that we think are individual servings are actually two or even three portions.
If you’re unsure of what a 1/2 cup of rice looks like or how much a 5oz of steak is, measure it a few times to get familiar with portion size, then continue to eyeball your portions from there.
EATING TOO LITTLE:
This one may not seem so obvious. If you want to lose fat, the first logical step is to cut your caloric intake, right? It makes sense then, that the more calories you cut, the more fat you lose — but this isn’t always true. Cutting your calories to extremes may work for a while, but over time your metabolism will slow, bringing your fat loss to a screeching halt. If that’s not bad enough, when your body is in a severe caloric deficit for an extended period of time, it can start to use your hard-earned muscle as fuel, in a process known as catabolism.
The Fix: I realize that eating more sounds counterproductive to a fat loss goal, but as a general suggestion I recommend dropping your calories no lower than 20% below your maintenance level — and I think staying around a 10% deficit is even better.
OVERDOING “HEALTH” FOODS:
Just because something is considered “healthy”, doesn’t mean you can eat endless amounts without consequences. Many people see things like fat-free or sugar-free foods and think this means they’re free altogether. Then there are foods like organic cookies and gluten-free brownies, and most people think they can have a free-for-all. Just because your cookie is made with organic sugar and your brownie with tapioca starch, doesn’t mean you can eat 30 of them.
When it comes down to it, a calorie really is a calorie. If you eat excessive amounts of fat-free chips, you’re still going to gain weight. If you eat 16 Paleo cookies, guess what, your body just recognizes that you ate 16 cookies, not that they were Paleo and supposedly “healthy.”
The Fix: Use your head when it comes to these so called “health foods”. Limit yourself to a regular portion, or skip them altogether.
Many times you may find yourself eating when you aren’t even hungry. Your body isn’t telling you it needs food, but you find yourself eating anyway. A handful of nuts here, a few pieces of candy there, an extra spoonful of peanut butter. Sound familiar? We’ve all done it.
If you find your weight loss at a standstill, tuning into your mindless snacking and paying attention to your true hunger signals can help tremendously. Are you really hungry when you grab that extra handful of pretzels, or do they just sound good? Do you need the extra 200 calories of peanut butter, or are you just digging your spoon deeper because the jar is there?
The Fix: Pay attention to your mindless snacking, eat when you are truly hungry and your weight loss should be back on track in no time.
YOU’RE ON A “DIET”:
The diet mentality is never a good one to have, but it’s everywhere. You can’t turn around without hearing about another fad/restrictive diet that has its followers eating a single food group or cutting drastic calories. Since when do we need to be on a “diet” to lose weight? What happened to just making healthy choices (the majority of the time) and working out? Crash dieting for a few weeks at a time and then going into overdrive gorging on all of your favorite foods isn’t going to have you losing weight anytime soon — and in fact, it can have the opposite effect.
The Fix: Drop the “I’m on a diet” attitude and make it a lifestyle. Choose healthy foods, but don’t be afraid to indulge in the occasional treat. Indulging in your favorite foods from time to time fulfills cravings and is more likely to help you stay on track and enjoy life.