Many of us wouldn't mind shedding a few pounds from time to time, but there are a number of common errors that will ultimately leave you back at square one or worse: gaining even more weight than you had started off with.
Here are the top five mistakes people make when trying to lose weight.
1. Being ill-prepared/not factoring in relapses
Before attempting to lose weight, carefully consider the lifestyle changes that come with successful weight-loss, says Toronto-based fitness consultant Michele Drake. To modify your lifestyle, Drake believes it's important to understand certain stages of change such as these:
• Preparation: developing both short- and long-term goals and strategies.
• Action: following through with your plans.
• Maintenance: keeping up with your goal in the future.
Above all, Drake emphasizes the importance of the preparation stage. "This is an area that a lot of people overlook and don't do properly," she says. You should be mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to undertake a weight-loss plan. Start by throwing away the junk food in the cupboard; consider buying new workout gear and some comfortable running shoes. Plan for daily walks, jogs, or get a gym membership. At the grocery store, buy healthier foods such as veggies, fruits, low-fat yogurts and lean meats.
Many weight-loss plans come with ups and downs - times of relapse when you may not be reaching your goals. By being prepared for the challenges that come with losing weight, you'll be less likely to give up when you encounter those roadblocks. "You need to have something that helps you from going into a rut," Drake says. Develop a points system or a creative strategy to help you get through those tough times and don't give up your entire weight-loss plan just because you've had a moment of weakness.
2. Choosing a wrong course of action
Is your goal to shape up, lose weight or both? The plans of action and end results for these objectives may be quite different.
With strength training, you may get stronger and your muscles may gain definition but you may also put on some pounds. The weight gained won't likely be fat but lean muscle, which can make you heavier.
If your objective is weight loss, pumping iron for hours isn't the ideal approach to take. It may be best to do a variety of physical activities including aerobics, walking, and even dancing. Consult with a personal trainer if you'd like help determining how best to reach your weight-loss goals.
Page 1 of 2 -- Check out page 2 for more weight-loss mistakes.
3. Having unrealistic expectations
"Don't try to lose weight too quickly," states Fran Berkoff, a registered dietitian. Trying to drop an unrealistic amount of weight in a short time (like 20 lbs. in a week) is a recipe for disaster. By setting yourself up for failure you're liable to abandon your plan of action when you're unable to reach your extreme goals.
The key is to take your time by setting up an informal weight-loss schedule that accounts for your lifestyle and busy schedule, which may not always allow for hours in the gym and nightly gourmet meals.
4. Adopting poor eating habits
Skipping meals and not eating for long periods of time are common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. "If you don't eat, you tend to overeat later on. It's better to eat throughout the day," says Berkoff. "And, it's never a good idea to skip meals."
Eliminating entire food groups or consuming foods that you don't enjoy in order to lose weight won't get you ahead either. "It's never a good idea to go on a weight-loss diet that's so far off the way you normally eat," she explains. "When you go back to your old eating habits, you put the weight right back on."
And when you go off your diet, the higher resting metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns energy) you developed as a result of losing body fat may drop and your body may be unable to burn calories as quickly as it did before. This all means that any new weight gained will probably stay on.
5. Believing in dieting myths/fads
With so many commercials, advertisements, and articles that promise fast and easy ways to lose pounds, who knows what to believe about weight loss? Creams, shakes, chocolate bars, meal replacements, potent pills and herbal supplements, all of which claim to magically melt away pounds, are usually quick fixes that are doomed for failure.
One such myth involves water intake. While drinking a lot of water may be beneficial for its hydrating effects, it won't do much for breaking up body fat, relates Berkoff. Furthermore, weight loss is about burning more calories than consumed, not just cutting out certain foods. A fine balance is needed for success. "You lose weight when you use more energy than you take in," says Berkoff.
Losing weight, whether it's a couple of pounds so that you can look slimmer at that family function or undertaking an entire healthy eating plan is a personal decision where an individual's health needs, dietary preferences and goals must be considered. Above all, when attempting to undertake a weight-loss program, it's always best to consult your physician and to consume a balanced variety of foods from Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
Page 2 of 2 -- Struggling to lose weight? Find out what two mistakes could be holding you back from success on page 1.