10 Things to Consider If You Want to Lose Weight

If you feel frustrated by your weight loss journey, don't panic. If you need to lose weight, it is important to do it healthily, and to perhaps reevaluate some of your existing habits in order to safely shed pounds.

There are many common weight loss mistakes or misconceptions that might be preventing you from getting results. Read this list to discover if there are tips you can adapt into your lifestyle.

Most importantly, remember that everyone's weight loss journey is their own and be sure to consult with your doctor for best practices that are right for you, and to determine your healthiest weight as well.

10 Things to Consider If You Want to Lose Weight

1. Are you choosing a specific diet type?
How often have you chosen a diet because it worked for a friend? Perhaps you were inspired by a celebrity diet or celebrity spokesperson.

A diet might be perfect for someone else, but their needs, their lifestyle, and their food preferences could be completely different from yours.

Try this instead: Ask yourself five important questions about your diet history, medical background, and emotional support. The answers will help you to identify your specific needs as a dieter and help you to choose the best weight loss plan for you.

2. Avoid setting unrealistic goals.

People are often highly motivated and full of excitement at the beginning of their weight loss program. It is often during this phase that they set unrealistic goals for weight loss. But high expectations can cause weight gain when lack of progress leads to lack of motivation.

Try this instead: Learn how to set small goals that you'll actually reach. These smaller steps provide a roadmap for your weight loss journey. As you reach each small goal you get a boost of confidence and you stay motivated on the way to your ultimate goal. 

3. Are you using "lack of time" as an excuse?

One of the most common barriers to weight loss is the belief that you don't have enough time. One study found that 41 percent of women said "lack of time" was the reason that they didn't eat better and 73 percent of women said they didn't exercise because their schedules were too busy. The bottom line is that if you want to lose weight in a healthy way, it's best to find a way to make time for healthy activity.

You'll most likely find that once you make time for these healthy lifestyle changes, you'll feel better in both your body and your mind.

Try this instead: Get out an old-fashioned paper calendar and find windows of time that are not consumed by absolute necessities. Then create a schedule for healthy weight loss activities. Pen in the most important tasks and schedule everything else around them. Don't be afraid to put other priorities on the back burner or ask for help (see item #4) so that you can take the time you need to make your health a top priority.

4. Are you isolating yourself?

Many people consider themselves alone in their weight loss journey, or that it's something to be ashamed of or to be done in private. If you are trying to lose weight to better your overall health, remember that you don't have to be alone. Your friends and family may be willing to help you through her weight loss journey, or you may even consider joining a support group.

Try this instead: Learn how to get diet support from family and friends. Take the time to identify your needs for yourself and then approach others for help. That way, you'll be clear about defining specific ways in which they can help. Find friends at work, at the gym, or even in your neighborhood.

5. How are you calculating your nutritional intake?

It can be difficult to keep track of your daily nutrients. Remember, it's not all about calories. There's fat, protein, fiber, and many other daily nutrient levels we need to be receiving to not just help us with keeping our weight on track, but with living our healthiest lives.

Try this instead: Use a food tracker. You can even try making your entries more accurate by purchasing an inexpensive food scale. The tool will allow you to report the exact size of each portion you consume.

6. Try not to view foods as "healthy" and "unhealthy."

Several studies have shown that people are more likely to overeat foods that they perceive to be healthy. One study at the University of Michigan found that when a food was labeled "organic," people ate more of it. The bottom line? Remember that moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle.

So it's okay to eat organic (or not organic) cookies, but remember the nutritional information on the back of the box is that best bet for evaluating how a food will fit into your diet.

Try this instead: Remember that (barring any health circumstance that prevent you from eating certain foods), it's helpful to keep everything in moderation, but to remember that even "healthy" foods may have more calories or fat in a given serving. Avocados, for example, are full of healthy fat, but are also very high in calories.

Keeping this in mind can help you (and your doctor or nutritionist) find a way to fit foods into your healthy diet.

7. Avoid sitting all day.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is a fancy term for all of the non-exercise movement that you do every day. It can account for up to 15 to 30% of your total calorie burn. If you spend your day sitting at a desk and your evenings lying on the couch, the calories you burn from NEAT will not be as much as if you utilize time throughout the day to do some moving!

Try this instead: You can burn calories without exercise. Boost your NEAT all day long. If you have a desk job, get up every hour and walk to the restroom on a different floor, refill your water, run an errand on foot, or climb the stairs in your office building. If you like watching television at night, fold laundry or dust furniture instead of just lying on the couch.

All of these "small" things can add up to better health. For when you plan workouts, you can even try investing in a heart rate monitor to get a more accurate estimate of your workout time.

9. Are you compensating for exercise by eating more?

It is normal for your appetite to increase when you begin to exercise. But one of the most common weight loss mistakes is to indulge in extra snacks and treats as a reward for the workout. But eating those treats may cause weight gain.

Try this instead: Plan a healthy, low-calorie snack to eat right after you exercise. Combine a healthy lean protein with a carbohydrate to satisfy your hunger and replace nutrients lost during the workout. A glass of skim chocolate milk works well and tastes decadent enough to feel like a treat. 

10. Stick to what's best for you.

Of course, you'll see ads for popular weight loss pills that claim to help you lose weight without any effort. And many trendy fad diets make the same promises. But those products and plans usually do not work. Always be wary of a "quick fix" to weight loss, when really, it can be a slow process that involves adapting to healthier lifestyle changes.

Try this instead: Embrace the truth that weight loss is hard, but don't let the difficulty of the process deter you. If you need to lose weight, you can do it in a healthy way. It will be uncomfortable to change your habits. But, celebrate small accomplishments to stay focused along the way.

For example, if the scale isn't giving you the weight loss results that you want, then celebrate the fact that you ate a well-balanced diet during the day and remind yourself about the health benefits you gain from eating well.

Your exercise plan may not be resulting in weight loss yet, but it will probably help you sleep better at night and feel better during the day, which are both incredibly important elements to living a healthy life. Look for and acknowledge the little perks along the way.

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Article Sources

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  2. Welch N, Mcnaughton SA, Hunter W, Hume C, Crawford D. Is the perception of time pressure a barrier to healthy eating and physical activity among women?. Public Health Nutr. 2009;12(7):888-9 doi: 10.1017/S1368980008003066

  3. Schuldt, J. P., & Schwarz, N. (2010). The "organic" path to obesity? Organic claims influence calorie judgments and exercise recommendationsJudgment and Decision Making, 5(3), 114-150.

  4. Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;16(4):679-702. doi:10.1053/beem.2002.0227

  5. Banno M, Harada Y, Taniguchi M, et al. Exercise can improve sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PeerJ. 2018;6:e5172. doi:10.7717/peerj.5172

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