Often, weight loss goals can stop before they start. And other times, they can seem to lag or do a yo-yo dance before you reach a real breakthrough? What causes this?
You think that you’re doing everything right to lose weight, but you aren’t shedding the pounds–what gives? The truth is that it can be any number of things actually.
So in this guide, we’re going to look at the most common scenarios and habits that sabotage weight loss goals.
But before we get to the reasons why your weight loss goals are stalling, let’s take a look at how to change your eating habits.
4 Steps to Change Bad Eating Habits
Losing weight isn’t something you want to initiate without a plan and a set of specific goals. So here are 4 steps that’ll help you get rid of unhealthy habits so you can reach your weight loss goals ASAP.
1. Start small
Small changes to your lifestyle and diet can make a big difference in your health. But one of those easiest ways to sabotage your new weight loss journey is to have goals too big. If you aren’t used to eating healthy foods are having a set food regimen, don’t try to do too much too soon.
This means slowly eliminating food from your diet and slowly adding healthier foods to your regimen. This way you won’t burn out from being overwhelmed, and you will more naturally evolve into your own specific diet regimen.
Ever heard the saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. Try applying this principle to your goals. Every day will add up, and at the end of each month, you’ll see your progress–which is the biggest motivation!
2. Be more mindful
One of the most important parts of starting a good weight loss journey is mindfulness. You may not think that the small things are causing you to gain weight sometimes, but they very well may be. Things such as eating a handful of cookies before bed or drinking a glass of wine two or three times a day can quickly add to your daily caloric intake.
Try paying more attention to your food and drink is one of the first steps in changing bad eating habits. Read food labels and become familiar with the lists of ingredients. You’ll be more conscious of your food choices and will realize the ways you can improve your diet. Some people also find it beneficial to keep food journals–you can even keep a list on “Notepad” on your smartphone.
3. Make a detailed plan
How can you eat more fruits? How do you go to the gym more often? Well, you just have to consider all of your options. One example is to plan to bring a piece of fruit every day to work as snacks.
Another option is to stock up on fruit and cereal for quick breakfasts and to go to the gym three times per week. Need to work out more?
It won’t help to simply say “I’m going to exercise more”. It’s more beneficial to actually think about how and when you can incorporate it into your life. What days/times will you commit to going to the gym? Set goals and stick to them. Have a “no excuse” approach to meeting your weekly diet and workout goals.
And remember, every day that you stick to your regimen, it’s going to bring you one step closer to hitting your monthly goals (and months can go by fast when you’re dieting).
4. Every week, set a new mini-goal
You will likely see a significant improvement in your life if you take these small steps. If your goal is to eat healthier, you can tell yourself that you will try one vegetable each week until you find the one you love. Also, try to remove one unhealthy food from your life every week.
Are you prone to snacking on candy at work? To remove this habit, simply don’t buy it for one entire week. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you will lose the taste for something once you stop eating it–out of sight, out of mind.
You can also look for ways to increase the number of vegetables in your diet every week until your goal is achieved. Add cucumber slices to your lunch sandwich; shredded carrots in your muffins for breakfast; and sun-dried tomatoes or mushrooms on your dinner pizza. Mix things up!
17 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight
Are you guilty of any of these offenses? If so, you may be throwing a monkey wrench in your weight loss goals.
1. You’re not being realistic
Do not expect too much of yourself. Habitualizing any new action takes around 30-66 days, according to studies on behavioral changes. With vigilance and slow progress, the race is won. Just keep doing it, soon it’ll become second nature.
2. Break bad habits
Many people use their busy schedules as excuses for not being healthy–which is easy to do. Please don’t fall for this trap. Be mindful of how you use your time. It may be necessary to get up earlier in order to make your lunch, exercise, or prepare your lunch.
Plan your week on the weekend, this way you won’t get caught up in a vicious cycle of eating whatever is available, whether it be foods in your cabinet or fast food.
3. Be mindful of bad food environment
Sometimes, you just can’t control what is going on around you. You may find yourself in a world of temptations at work or during leisure hours. There’s nothing wrong with saying no to lunch with coworkers, or no to an invite to the local pizza spot while you’re on your weight loss journey.
Remember it’s just a journey, it doesn’t mean that you can NEVER go back to eating the things you love. It just means that until you find a way to balance your diet, you’ll need to remove or reduce the amount in which they’re consumed.
4. You stress eat
Stress eating is common and can be prevalent in your life whether you’re dieting or not. To combat it, be mindful of when you’re feeling stressed. What are your most common stressors?
Is it anxiety on Sunday evening because you know you have a huge workload to tackle on Monday? Or perhaps it’s when the kids get home from school. Is it before do you have to make a big decision in your life?
Familiarizing yourself with your daily stressors is a great way to be mindful of them and note how you react to them.
Trying to find other ways to relieve stress instead of eating. For example, consider purchasing a dartboard, stress ball, are other office gadgets to help you relieve stress that you may feel while you’re on the job or at home.
Consider going for a light walk around your neighborhood and listening to a great playlist. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a bit of easy physical activity can relieve stress–and fight boredom. Also, consider keeping a food diary.
This way you can write down everything that you eat during the day so that if you do eat while you’re stressed, you can still know how many calories to eat before you reach your daily caloric limit–and find low-cal stress snacks specifically for these moments.
5. You have stopped smoking/doing drugs, and you’ve started eating more
This is a fairly common scenario. It might seem like you’re using food to replace smoking or other unhealthy activities. If you find yourself eating more often than you normally would, be mindful about what you eat.
Here are some tips to stop stress eating:
- Take note of when you’re eating. For example, do you eat because you are hungry or because you’re anxious or tired, lonely, or bored?
- Prepare foods (and snacks) that you enjoy eating (this way you won’t feel like you’re restricting yourself from more things you love)
- Sit down at the table and eat
- Slow down and take in the aroma, texture, and flavor of your food.
- Do not eat while watching television or checking your phone
6. You’ve got a calorie blind spot
Many people eat calories without even knowing that they’re eating them. Sometimes it’s really the small things that add up. It’s the extra two tablespoons of salad on your dressing, or the added cheese or oil. Or, it could be the uncountable calories in your spaghetti pasta during lunch, or the fruit juices before you go to bed.
The best way to guarantee that you’ll hit your weight loss goals is to ensure that you can count the calories in everything that you eat. This will take out any guesswork.
If you’re constantly guessing why you aren’t hitting your daily/weekly goals, try keeping a food journal for one week. Be sure to track EVERYTHING you eat, including snacks, drinks, and condiments, and find out where hidden calories are.
7. You aren’t eating enough calories
While calorie deficits are important for weight loss, eating enough calories every is still vital each day. A 500-calorie diet typically does more harm than good–not to mention the nutrients that you’ll lose.
When you’re trying to lose weight or improve your fitness, you shouldn’t feel hungry. You should feel satiated and energized. You can maintain a healthy weight loss program and achieve long-term results (quick tip: try roasted veggies, fruit and popcorn for quick low-cal snacks).
Fun fact: An average person will try 126 diets in their lifetime. The average person will then give up after six days. The data showed that cabbage soup diets were the most popular, but experts warn that losing weight is not as easy as you might think.
8. You’re not in a calorie deficit
As just mentioned, to lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is when your body uses fewer calories than you consume. It’s just that simple, eat fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose weight.
If you’re unsure which your ideal calorie deficit should be, check out a calorie calculator. The calculator will use your age, height, weight, and gender to determine your daily caloric intake to reach your weight-loss goals.
There are many online calculators that can help you achieve a calorie deficit and stay there. This one is by Precision Nutrition. A FitBit fitness tracker might be more appropriate for you to keep track of your steps and burn calories each day.
9. You aren’t doing the right type of exercises
Weight training is one of the best type of exercises to do for weight loss–though cardio is often touted as the end all be all to losing weight. The reason is that cardio typically burns more calories (especially if it’s intense), and weight training burns more calories long-term.
This is because compound exercises such as deadlifts and squats can be combined with lunges, rows, overhead press, etc. Multi-muscle movements burn more calories than one motion, such as running or walking.
This promotes muscle growth and is further boosted when you add heavy weights to your body. A greater muscle mass means more fat loss, as muscle tissue burns more calories when it is resting. For maximum fat burn, consider trying HIIT cardio or dual cardio-strength training workouts.
10. Too many fizzy drinks
Although Diet Coke may claim that it has no calories, it still contains sugar alternatives that can make your weight loss journey even more difficult. Some sugar substitutes such as aspartame have also been shown to increase fat retention and make it more difficult to lose weight.
Fizzy drinks may increase the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin. This can lead to weight gain. So while you don’t HAVE to completely remove the strings from your regiment while you’re dieting, it can be super helpful to reduce the number you drink daily and weekly.
11. You’re eaten too little protein
Protein is absolutely crucial for healthy weight loss. In fact, if we don’t eat enough of it, it could lead to weight gain. Eating a variety of foods, including oily fish, seafood and chicken, red meat, eggs or tofu, legumes, dairy, nuts, and beans, is essential to meet your weight loss goals.
These foods can curb your cravings for carbohydrate and make you feel fuller longer. It is essential to eat enough protein (it makes up about 15% of our body weight). However, you do want to eat less processed meats like bacon, sausages, and salami.
12. You drink too much alcohol
All things should be taken in moderation. And often, people tend to drink more than they think. The calories in wine, beer, and mixed drinks can quickly add up on a night out, so try to limit your alcohol consumption to once or twice a week while you’re going through a weight loss program.
Check out the caloric content in your drinks beforehand. This way you’ll know your caloric max for the day/week. You can also opt for alcoholic beverages with lower calories such as Skinny Girl products or low-cal wine and beer.
13. Carbohydrates are being cut completely
Unfortunately, Atkins and Dukan Diets have sort of given carbs a bad name, as they require that carbs be eliminated in their initial phases. But carbohydrates are essential if you want long-term weight loss without sacrificing your favorite foods.
As long as there is a deficit, the remaining calories you eat as carbohydrates or fat don’t really matter. But low-carb diet are promoted because they are beneficial–though there are some caveats. For people who are obese or extremely overweight, a low-carb diet will be a good place to start.
They’ll typically see a significant motivational boost as they can see the weight drop rapidly. After 1-3 weeks, carbohydrates can be reintroduced into the diet when necessary for performance and enjoyment purposes.
But if you’re only looking to lose about 60 pounds or less, you may not see the super-fast weight loss as someone who is overweight by 100 pounds or more. And remember that there are good carbs and bad carbs, the unhealthy carbs that are best to cut out are sweet treats, soda, chips, and other high-calorie/low-nutrient foods.
14. You NEVER meal prep
Successful and sustained weight loss is achieved by incorporating healthy meal choices into your daily activity–and this means planning. Preparing your meals in advance is important to ensure success if you already track your macros and calories.
Having your meals prepared and measured in advance will make it less likely that you are left hungry. This can lead to you grabbing unhealthy food, which may not be beneficial for your weight loss efforts. You can buy meal prep boxes from Amazon for about $15.
Try making one or two meals for the week to make it easier to count your calories and reduce the likelihood that you’ll stop at fast food. And of course, don’t forget the snacks!
15. You’re not adding weights (dumbells or wearing a weighted vest, leg weights, etc.)
You will burn more calories if you add weight to your workout. Heavier people burn more calories, their bodies use more energy to complete the same task as someone who is lighter; wearing a weighted vest when walking encourages an individual’s body to work harder while on a walk.
If you’ve been on your weight-loss journey for a few months and find that you’ve hit a plateau, it may be time to level up your weight game.
A study found that people who walked 2.5 miles per hour on a flat surface wearing a vest that weighed 15% of what they weighed burned 12% more calories than those who didn’t wear one. Lower leg weights, weighted vest, wrist weights, and weighted machine workouts to add intensity to your activities.
16. You avoid eating “WHOLE” Foods
Whole foods are lower in calories than processed foods. They are also full of antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients that can improve your health while you’re working on losing weight. Eating whole foods will keep you full, leaving less room for foods that avoid foods that are low nutrition in and high in calories.
They can also help lower blood sugar, improve digestion, and decrease muscle pain–helping you feel fuller and more energetic. Whole foods includes vegetables and fruits, legumes; whole grains, meats, beans, seeds, nuts, and non-processed meats.
17. You don’t have a tailored weight loss plan
The most crucial aspect of accomplishing your weight loss goals centers around your ability to create a weight loss plan specific to YOU. This means incorporating the foods you like to eat, the time and days that you like to work out, the workout routines that you prefer to do.
One of the worst things you can do is to try to imitate someone else’s weight loss program in detail. It’s great to get inspiration from other sources, But ultimately you’ll have to find your own routine to grow into.
So instead of trying every diet plan, why not make your own? Hate running? You don’t have to.
Try cycling, yoga, or doing weight training.
Hate eating salads? You don’t have to–consider making a smoothie or roasting your veggies. Have a sweet tooth?
Check out healthier snack options (such as homemade dried fruit rolls or granola bars) instead of eating a pack of Mike & Ikes.
Numerous studies have shown that replacing unhealthy habits with healthier ones is the best way to lose them. And don’t forget to watch your portion sizes–this is another way that calories can easily sneak up on you. Remember, it’s all about BALANCE.