Losing weight takes discipline and planning, especially if you want long-term results. Factors like excessive stress, not making a weekly plan or not knowing how to cook or combine ingredients can cause your efforts to go to waste. That’s why if you’re already on a diet, now is a great time to correct these mistakes that we tend to make when we want to shed a few pounds.
1. Eating very little and feeling hungry
A lot of people consciously—and unconsciously—associate being hungry with being on a diet. But the truth is that when traced back to its Greek roots, the word “diet” means “way of life,” in other words, all of our daily habits and customs.
Sticking to this definition, going on a diet should be something comprehensive involving eating a balanced diet, getting exercise and setting goals. A lot of people think they should skip meals or reduce portions, which is a huge mistake. What they should do is add healthy foods such as lean proteins and vegetables and cut out junk food.
2. Obsessing over calories
The days of calorie counting are over. “There are other factors you should keep in mind, like feeling full after eating a combination of proteins and fats; the glycemic index; the capacity of the nutrients to cause inflammation inside the body,” psycho-nutritionist Itziar Digón told Vogue.
3. Taking a diet to the zero carb extreme
It’s true that eating an excess of carbohydrates will probably make you gain a few extra pounds, but you can’t make the mistake of eliminating them all together or associating carbs with high calories. A healthy diet should allow you to strike a balance between all different food groups and be able to enjoy a treat from time to time.
4. Not taking your eyes off the scale
Weighing yourself every day (and sometimes more than once) is a sign that you want immediate results and are feeling impatient. Let’s face it: Your motivation can’t be based on the number of pounds or else your mood will start to sour very quickly. The scale should be a tool to track medium and long-term progress.
5. Believing in the miracle of a solely nutrition-based diet
Going on a diet without adding exercise is one of the most common mistakes. This error is based on the idea that a person can lose weight quickly just by cutting out certain foods or drastically reducing daily caloric intake. In the long term this is simply not true; reducing calories affects muscle mass more, which is harder to get back once it’s lost. Physical activity helps you get your body in shape and keep it that way.
6. Drinking too much water at once
While drinking water makes you feel full and this can help you to lose weight, it is a myth that water alone will make you skinnier. As nutritionist Rocío Maraver told Vogue, “Yes, there are studies that show that drinking two glasses of water with your lunch and two with your dinner helps you lose weight,” but some people don’t have the habit of drinking this vital liquid throughout the day. When they remember to, they try to do it all at once and it causes an emptying effect in the stomach which ends up being counterproductive.
7. Setting one huge goal
When trying to lose weight, a lot of things can happen along the way, both external and internal, to affect your motivation. This can lead you to feel an even larger sense of disappointment if you don’t achieve your goal. The best way to set goals is to create an action plan with several sub-goals. Achieving these sub-goals will help motivate you to keep succeeding. It will also allow you to be more flexible with any changes you make to the strategy.
8. Going solo
If you live with family or other people and you’re the only one eating healthy or changing your habits around the house, you’re bound to have a hard time sharing the table, going grocery shopping and cooking. We need the support of the people we live with, as well as the understanding we get from our social circle. Some people even find they start to isolate themselves and stop spending time with their friends because they find it too tempting to go to a restaurant or a party, completely forgetting that there are other things you can do that don’t involve big meals, or that you can always choose a healthy option while out.
9. Eating light foods
It’s common to see people who start a diet start shopping for the food that are labeled “light.” In fact, according to a study by the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration (United Kingdom), eating these low-calorie foods can lead to a food intake with the same amount (or more) of sugar and fat than we get from whole foods because people tend to eat them in larger quantities.
Remember, if you’re already on a diet, keep up your positive attitude, seek the assistance of a nutritionist and be disciplined with your eating and exercise habits. But most of all, be patient with yourself. Slowly but surely you’ll reach your goal.