Weight-Loss Mistakes. #1. Avoiding healthy foods:
While it may seem contrary to logic, avoiding healthy food is a common behavior among people trying to shed pounds. Whether it’s due to taste, or the idea of eating something that isn’t thoroughly satisfying, part of the problem is that taste buds become accustomed to bad food over time. Unhealthy eating habits can actually sculpt your pallet, leaving you with cravings for junk food, sweets, and heavily processed grains like white-flour foods.
Fortunately, this pattern of healthy food aversion can be broken. By avoiding unhealthy super-salty, super-sugary, super-fatty foods with diligence and commitment, taste buds can naturally reset.
They “open up” to the subtler but very appealing (once you recognize them) flavors of fresh whole foods. The process is psychological, but there are also physiological impacts that the gustatory system experiences when stimulated by the consumption of a consistent diet.
Another reason that we avoid healthy foods is that we start out too gung ho. We limit ourselves too much, subsisting solely on, say, celery for the entire day, or a bag of rice cakes at night.
Much more sustaining is an approach that begins with a wide array of good food. Vegetable medleys, for example, are exceptionally healthy meals that offer a variety of robust flavors. Adding peppers, carrots, and fresh fruit to salads can add vibrancy. Splash with some really good balsamic vinegar, and those greens you thought were bland are all of a sudden packed with punch.
Avoiding healthy foods is typically driven by habit, choice, and taste – all of which can be modified over time with determination and dedication to lose weight and establish a sustainably balanced diet.
Weight-Loss Mistakes. #2. Exercise – infrequent or inadequate:
Exercise alone is not enough to lose weight. A combination of exercise and diet is the key to losing weight naturally and permanently.
Many times we don’t have time to commit to a regular exercise program, or we exercise in such a manner that the exercise becomes inadequate to meet our goals. Or sometimes we go too far. We set goals that are so high we fail and then stop trying.
Exercise goals should be realistic, achievable, and practical. One important tip: Break bigger goals up into smaller steps.
- Goal: I am going to lose 5 pounds in three weeks.
- Plan: I’ll exercise for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Plan: For the next three weeks, I am also cutting sugar out of my diet. I’m replacing the sugary sodas I used to drink with bottles of water and sweet, water-rich fruit like watermelon.
These sorts of little steps, one week at a time, can help you meet your goals. Each week, re-evaluate. Were you able, for example, to fit in 30 minutes of walking three times weekly? Did it feel comfortable? If so, add a little more in terms of time (another 5 minutes) or intensity (step up your pace).
If not, rethink your plan. Maybe 30 minutes in one bout is too much. How about two 15-minute walks? Or three 10-minute ones? They’re all equally excellent when it comes to shedding weight and building your cardiovascular health.
Weight-Loss Mistakes. #3. Bad Eating Habits:
Bad eating habits are sneaky. We all have them, and some of them are so subtle that we do not even realize we are doing them. A good example is “grazing” from dinner to after-dinner snacks to more after-dinner snacks for the three to four hours before we go to bed.
Another common bad eating habit is skipping meals. Skipping meals can bring on hunger, raging hunger, which can all too easily bring on binges.
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Our doctors and dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center have a mantra: “Don’t starve and don’t stuff.” Let your body get into a rhythm in which you’re paying real good attention to your hunger and satiety (“I”m getting full”) cues. Eat when you’re hungry (but don’t wait till you’re famished). And stop when you’re pleasantly full, not stuffed. Practice using The Hunger Scale.
Weight-Loss Mistakes. #4. Sugar, Sugar, Sugar:
Take the time to read labels. It is shocking how much sugar is in many drinks and packaged foods.
Even many so-called “health” foods have added sugars like honey, molasses, and maple syrup. (Yes, as far as our body’s are concerned, they’re all sugar, plain and simple. They all increase, mightily so, the calorie density of our diet.)
Sure, sugar taste good, but it is one of the worst enemies you have when you are trying to lose weight.
Sugar also gets in the way of your ability to recognize and appreciate the gentler sweetness of natural whole foods like fruit. In nutrition class at the Pritikin Longevity Center, one of our dietitians used to start class with a big bowl of cherries. Everyone ate a cherry, savoring its sweetness. Then five minutes later, the Pritikin educator gave everyone a small handful of M & Ms. Then they were given a second cherry to eat.
Yes, you know what happened. After the M & Ms, the audience could not taste the second cherry. That cherry may as well have been a piece of cardboard; that’s how powerfully the hyper-sweetness of candy can mask a fruit’s flavor.
A regular coke has 39 grams of sugar in it. One-third of a cup of sugar weighs 40 grams. So every time you drink a regular coke. you’re consuming nearly one-third of a cup of sugar. Cut the sugar to lose the weight.
Weight-Loss Mistakes. #5. Vending Machine Toxicity:
Packaged foods are often high in sugar, super-processed grains, and fat/oils. When you eat snacks out of a vending machine, you are probably eating a very calorie-dense snack, exactly what you don’t need if you’re trying to lose weight.
Vending machine snacks are often salty snacks, too, which is why the vending machine with sodas sits next to the vending machine with salty snacks. It’s a double-header profit center for vending machine companies.
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If you are in a building where there are a lot of dieters, get together and ask for a healthy vending machine. Companies do make them, and they are often full of healthier snacks like fresh fruit and snack packs of baby carrots with hummus, plus bottles of water.
Better yet, avoid vending machine food altogether. Get in the habit of packing healthy brown bag lunches, plus two healthy snacks: one for mid-morning and one for mid-day. It’s the best way to not only look better but feel better, all day long.
These 5 weight-loss mistakes take diligence and perseverance to correct, but hopefully, with the tips we’ve provided, you’ll be well on your way to years and years of weight-loss success, and, even more importantly, health success.
Take time for you. “All great achievements require time,” wrote Maya Angelou. A lean, healthy body is, without question, a great achievement.