Common weight-loss mistakes
Weight-loss diets are all the rage these days. Tricks, "miracle" gimmicks, and money-grabs are abundant. Before we get into the common weight-loss mistakes, it's important to note that weight loss should never come at the expense of our health. The goal is - and always will be - to aim for sustainable, long-term lifestyle choices that support our overall health and well-being.
Extreme diets and plans are not sustainable in the long run. Ditch the "quick-results" mentality and focus on long-term changes. Slow and steady wins the race. Focus on lifestyle changes, find your "why-power", fall in love with the process, and the rest will follow.
1. Trying diet after diet
Let's distinguish between a diet and a lifestyle. A diet is something that is typically followed for short-term gain. A lifestyle is something you can truly see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Following a strict diet to lose 10 pounds may work in the short-term, but it likely won't stay that way. After all, long-term weight gain generally doesn't happen overnight, and the same goes for long-term weight loss.
Those of us who follow these crash diets often gain the weight back. Sometimes we even gain more than what was initially lost. Aim to make small, realistic, and achievable lifestyle changes that can be integrated into day-to-day practices. For example, eating one more green and orange vegetable each day or enjoying exercise 3 times a week. Short and quick-fix solutions are hardly ever effective and can be harmful to our health.
2. Focusing on short-term gains
Anything that promises instant results is likely a gimmick. This might not necessarily be a diet. It could be shakes, bars, pills, laser treatments, light therapy, meal-replacement products, and so on. Spend time focusing on long-term gains; things we can do slowly and strategically to improve our overall health. Some examples of long-term gains might be increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables or establishing a regular exercise routine. Again, the aim is to develop lifestyle habits that can be done regularly, and maintained long-term. Keeping with these habits will likely lead to results that stick in the long-term.
3. Restricting and counting calories
There are countless sites and resources indicating that in order to lose weight, we must count our calories. Here at Pick Up Limes, we don't recommend calorie counting unless a doctor or dietitian has advised it for medical reasons while under their direct supervision. This is because there can be negative health outcomes to restricting calories, including an increased risk of disordered eating, nutrient deficiencies, comprised bone health, and infertility. Calorie-restriction may also slow our metabolism, which interferes with future attempts at weight loss.
Instead of restricting calories, we can listen to our hunger cues to decide when to eat and how much to eat. When feeling hungry at a meal, eat just enough to be comfortably full. If it's been a while since our last meal, it's more than okay to enjoy a snack. Food is here to nourish us. Ignoring our hunger cues and choosing not to eat may lead to uncontrolled eating later on.
4. Skipping breakfast
Time and time again studies show us the importance of breakfast. Skipping breakfast might seems like an easy way to cut out calories, but it often leads to grazing, unplanned snacking, and overeating. Breakfast is a great chance to enjoy fibre-rich foods including whole grains, fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds to help sustain us throughout the day. For some quick, filling, and nutritious breakfast ideas, here are a few PUL recipes:
5. Not snacking when hungry
Some of us do fine without snacks, whereas some of us find them helpful to feel fueled throughout the day. Listening to our body and hunger cues is an important step in staying nourished. Try to enjoy snacks that include at least 2 of the food groups, which include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, plant-proteins, and plant-based milk or yogurt. Some examples of this include a dried fruit and nut trail mix, whole-grain crackers with hummus, or apples with nut butter. If you've got a bit more time to prepare your snacks, here are some PUL snack recipes for inspiration:
6. Sugar-filled sipping
It's lovely to enjoy a cola or juice from time to time, but for some of us, these sugar-sweetened beverages are enjoyed daily. Some examples of sugar-filled beverages to enjoy in moderation include sodas, slushies, and gourmet coffees like mochas and lattes. Where possible, aim to choose water in place of these sugar-filled beverages.
7. Drinking too little water
Did you know our bodies are approximately 60% water? Water is an important part of any sustainable lifestyle. Our body needs it to keep our metabolism going. To encourage hydration, we can carry a water bottle with us throughout the day and enjoy water as our drink of choice with meals. Occasionally sipping on water while eating might also help promote fullness and prevent overeating.
8. Eating out often
Eating out can really help us out on days when we're feeling bogged down or overwhelmed. Naturally, it's also a treat to enjoy restaurant meals in the company of friends or family. Where possible, though, we want to aim to make meals at home. Drive-thrus and restaurants tend to add more oil, sugar, and salt to make the food taste better and last longer. While enjoying these foods on occasion is no issue, it can really start to add up if we make it a regular occurrence. One solution to eating out less might be to meal prep so the thought of making homemade meals doesn't feel so daunting during busy weeks. For more on meal prepping, read our article on meal prep tips and tricks.
9. Focusing on willpower
Studies continue to indicate that will-power is a depletable source. If we rely on willpower alone to help us eat less or work out more, we might find the tactic doesn't work in the long run. Instead, we can focus on our why-power. What is the true reason for wanting to eat more nutrient-rich foods? Why might we want to exercise more regularly? Try writing down your "why" in a journal or on a post-it note that can be placed somewhere visible as a daily reminder.
10. Tunnel vision
Aim to look at the big picture. Whether it be food choices or exercise, focusing on a single tactic may help a little, but we can find greater benefit from looking at our lifestyle as a whole. Hydration, sleep, food choices, mental health, and stress are all connected. As a whole, they affect our overall health and well-being. By acknowledging all of these aspects, we can help nourish our cells in addition to our souls.
11. Setting unrealistic goals
Setting goals exceptionally high is common. A way for us to develop and stay on track with realistic goals is to seek one-on-one support from a qualified healthcare professional. Think about the most successful athletes out there: their success is no doubt because of their relentless effort, but also in part due to the on-going coaching, guiding, and mentoring they receive. Seeking professional support can help us achieve the goals we set. Whether it's a dietitian for help with food choices or a licensed therapist for mental health support. When in doubt, see a family doctor, as they often know where to refer us to.
Remember that there's no such thing as "mistakes" when considering they're all in fact little learning lessons. The more we learn from our experiances, the more we continue to inch forward towards our goals: slowly and steadily.
- Ditch the diet. Lifestyle changes tend to be more sustainable and enjoyable rather than strict dieting, skipping meals, or counting calories.
- Stay hydrated. Water plays an important role in our bodies. To help us stay hydrated, we can make water our drink of choice.
- Honour our hunger. Eating enough food through meals and snacks ensures we're energized and can prevent overeating later on. When possible, prepare meals and snacks at home rather than eating out.
- Find the why. Remembering our motivation to develop and maintain healthy behaviour changes is a helpful way to stay on track.
- Play the long game. Developing lifestyle habits that can be maintained in the long run promotes lasting results compared to short-term quick-fixes.