The scales aren’t moving. You thought your diet was going ok but nothing is happening. You are losing the motivation to continue. But are you making these common mistakes…
1. You aren’t tracking what you eat: Thinking that calories don’t matter is a pitfall many fall into. “But I eat clean” or “I’m eating healthy” is not enough for some people. Calories are not all that matter, but getting the right amount of protein, carbs, fats and fibre for your body and your goals is the fastest most efficient way to success.
2. You aren’t tracking accurately: So you are tracking, but guesstimating, not weighing your food where necessary, can throw you more off course than you think. I recommend a strict 2 week period of tracking everything you consume including supplements, to increase mindfulness and get a more accurate number of calories consumed.
3. You haven’t stuck to it for more than a month: It’s a marathon not a sprint. Checking the scales daily and thinking the diet isn’t working due to normal fluctuations will drive you insane. Instead, use daily weight to track a trend over time. After your first month of dieting, look at what is happening. Aiming to lose 1lb a week over a longer period is better than losing fast then regaining it swiftly as it wasn’t maintainable. Changing your diet and training up so much that you don’t know what is actually working will get you nowhere. You don’t need to “keep the body guessing”, you need consistency.
4. You let loose on the weekend: We all know that one friend that seems to always be dieting but never looks any different. They commit to sound dietary practices through the week, only to splurge on pizzas and beer all weekend. If you continue to do this, you will continue to look average. I’m not saying never let loose, but factor it into your macros if you do. There is no reason why you can’t track what you drink and factor it into your calories. You can easily eat less in the days leading up to it to compensate.
5. You aren’t prioritising protein, fruit and vegetables: Especially in women, under eating protein is a problem. Protein is the building block of lean muscle mass, something that you want to maintain and promote at all costs. Splitting protein equally over 3-4 meals a day will also make you feel less hungry. Added to this, consuming more nutrient packed fruit and veggies at each meal fights off hunger, while adding fibre to your dieting. Building your diet around protein and minimally processed whole foods is the way to go if you want to make this work.
6. You eat out too often: Eating out with friends or loved ones is something we all enjoy in life. But doing this too often usually adds a surprising amount of extra calories. The same meal you would eat at home can have far less calories due to added carbs and fat chefs add to make things tasty. Even if there is calories that you can track, be aware that this is an average and may not be accurate. Try to eat less carbs and fats on days you know you want to go out to eat. You can use intermittent fasting to make this easier.
7. You are too sedentary: Studies show that some dieters have a drastic decrease in NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) when they start dieting and exercising. Your body tries to make up for the drop in input by making you more sedentary. Combat this by being mindful of how much you sit, rest, and how much you are active. Walk more, park further away, clean and do more chores around the house like mowing and gardening, stand more, etc. Planning activities on weekend like hiking, kayaking and going to the beach are fun ways to make sure you don’t drop your energy expenditure too drastically. Remember to not drop calories too fast or too low, and add exercise in gradually, to prevent stalling sooner.
8. You aren’t tracking progress correctly: If you are using scales, remember that the best way to track is weighing in first thing in the morning without clothes on, then taking the average over the month to ensure a downward trend. If the scale stresses you out, use photos and measurements to track progress. No tape measure? Another great way to measure progress is using an outfit that is tight or slightly too small for you, try it on once a week or once a month to see if it’s getting easier to squeeze into. Making a shift from obsessing over scale weight, to looking at other metrics like strength in the gym, adherence to a plan, and mini goals that are not weight related, can make the process more enjoyable and rewarding.
9. Unplanned snacking: When people say “One bite won’t hurt”, “oh come on, live a little”, and other tactics to derail your diet, they are contributing to your failure. If you are stuck and are trying to push past a plateau, snacking matters. We often snack mindlessly when we aren’t really that hungry. Commit to 3-4 meals at set times with no snacking in between.
10. Fake health foods: just because it’s organic, vegan, paleo, gluten free, carb free – doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat. There are plenty of overpriced health foods that are calorie dense. This means for the given weight / volume of the food they contain a lot of calories. They tend to be deceiving and not as filling as whole food options. Try Switching to whole food options like regular oatmeal instead of muesli/granola or cereal. Instead of a protein bar, hard boiled eggs are a great nutrient dense, high protein option. For more on fake health foods click here.
If you are doing all these things and still not seeing a difference, ensure you are getting enough quality sleep and have a good training program in place.
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