It seems like every week someone new steps into the spotlight claiming they’ve written the book on weight loss. From Dr. Atkins to Dr. Phil, these self-appointed “diet gurus” offer quick fixes and supposedly fail-safe strategies for those at war with their weight.
If you’ve ever fallen victim to a food fad, you’re guilty of one of the seven deadly sins of dieting. Make too many of these mistakes and you’ll not only have to worry about getting to the Pearly Gates, but fitting through ’em as well!
One of the original seven deadly sins, gluttony, tops the list of weight loss mistakes. No matter which diet you adopt, if your portion sizes are best measured in bushels, you’re going to have a problem. It matters not that meat and cheese are low-carb or that bagels are fat-free; if you ingest more than you expend day after day, you’ll never be satisfied with the number on the scale.
Not eating enough
If gorging yourself is no good, then shouldn’t self-starvation be your salvation? Hardly. Taking in too few calories slows your metabolism, the process by which your cells burn food for energy. Keep it up and your body will slip into starvation mode, conserving calories and defeating the purpose of dieting. Though calorie counts vary from person to person based on body type and activity level, letting your intake dip below 800 calories per day will likely be counterproductive.
(*Nutritional Note: 800 calories per day is the BARE MINIMUM required to keep your body burning, rather than storing, its fuel. Most health experts recommend no less than 1200 calories per day for healthy weight loss.)
Not counting calories
While portion size is important, keeping track of overall calories is key. It’s easy to ignore the nibbles and sips and the snacks between meals, but they all add up, and over time, they add inches.
If you’re new to the world of weight loss, your best bet is to keep a food journal. Make note of every morsel that enters your mouth until you’ve established your body’s nutritional needs.
Believing in miracles
We all want weight loss to be speedy and simple, even if it means eating nothing but grapefruit for a month. Unfortunately, while most quick fixes make shedding pounds a breeze, keeping them off becomes a constant struggle.
That’s why many health experts prefer the term “weight management” instead of “dieting”: S taying fit and at a healthy weight is not something to work at for a month. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment. And no one can eat that much grapefruit.
How much weight are you looking to lose, and what’s your ideal timeframe? If your answer has you back in the jeans you donned in high school in a couple of weeks, you might be guilty of setting unreasonable goals.
It’s important to keep a realistic outlook: Losing just 5 to 10 per cent of your body weight provides oodles of health benefits. And once you attain that goal, you can always set another.
Exercise burns calories. And more importantly, it causes your resting metabolism to skyrocket. Lean muscle mass takes more energy to maintain than fat, so by toning up, your body burns more calories, even when you’re not moving. Because of this, research shows that fit, active people are more likely to keep weight off once they lose it.
Ignoring your exit strategy
No matter which plan you adopt to slim down – especially if it’s of the shady “miracle diet” variety – you’ve gotta have a plan to keep the pounds at bay. The last thing you want to do is let the new, healthy you slip back into the old routines that made you fat in the first place.
Think of a “diet” not as something you do for a short period of time, but rather how you choose to fuel your body for life. Knowing you’re in it for the long haul will help you pick a realistic, healthy plan that’ll keep you svelte and sexy ’till your dying day.