Although there are many reasons the number on the scale might not be budging, there are some subtle ways you could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts without even realising it.
Here are some subtle ways you could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Many people start a new routine with big goals in mind, usually to lose a very specific number of kilos. And, like certified personal trainer Katie Dunlop, told INSIDER, that goal is usually very lofty. "You expect results, and you want them right away, but good things take time," she said.
Her recommendation? Try setting smaller, micro-goals to help you build healthy habits over time that will eventually help you to reach that larger goal.
If you're waiting for a magic spark of motivation, Dunlop said you'll never reach your goals.
"Motivation truly comes from seeing yourself making progress, which means, you have to get going," she told INSIDER. "You have to choose to show up and have the discipline to stick to it." She said that's how motivation really happens.
Dr Saray Stancic, MD, told INSIDER that weight loss is not just about the number on the scale.
"It's all about acquiring a new skill set," she said. "Learning and reinforcing optimal behaviours leads to adopting new health building habits."
Trying to eliminate any food or drink that was previously a staple can sometimes impede your weight loss efforts in the future.
For example, if you drink wine, Dr Charlie Seltzer, MD, DABOM, CEP told INSIDER that eliminating it until you are at your goal then "reintroducing" it in moderation fails 99.9% of the time.
"If you plan on doing something for the rest of your life, make sure you still do it while you're losing weight," said Seltzer. Namely, you may not want to cut something out entirely if you plan to re-introduce it into your diet later.
For those whose weight loss plans involve counting carbs, Seltzer said it's not overly important where the carbs come from.
"If you're counting carbs, your carb goal should be the same whether the carb comes from candy, fibre or sugar alcohol," explained Seltzer. His tip? Remember that 150 grams of carbs are 150 grams of carbs, regardless of where they come from.
If you find yourself sipping on kJ-heavy beverages throughout the day, it might be time to take a second look at your diet. Dunlop told INSIDER that liquid calories are the sneakiest and they add up fast.
"If coffee, teas, sodas, and cocktails regularly make their way into your day, you could be looking at as many as 500 extra calories (2,000 kJ) each day," she explained. In a weeks' time, that could add up to as much as an extra pound (almost 0.5kg) of fat.
When you're trying to lose weight, personal trainer Greg Pignataro, CSCS, told INSIDER that your body's first reaction is to burn muscle instead of fat. "This is especially the case if you're restricting your kJ intake by too much," he said.
He explained that your body does this because muscle is an energy-hogging tissue, requiring more kJs to sustain than fat. So, if your body perceives itself as starving, it's going to rid itself of the muscle first.
"Our bodies are very much 'use it or lose it' machines, so regularly strength training sends your body the message that you need every ounce of muscle you have," Pignataro added.
By now, we all know how important water is to so many of our health and fitness goals. But, what is it about not getting enough H2O that can sabotage weight loss? Well, for starters, water helps keep you feeling full.
It can also help to increase your metabolism. That's why Dunlop said if you think you drink enough water, you probably need some more, especially if you're trying to burn fat. She said a safe rule of thumb is to try to drink about half your body weight in litres of water. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs (63kg), aim to drink at least 70 ounces (2 litres) of water a day.
Portion size is important, especially when dining out - just because your plate is piled with food, it doesn't mean you have to eat it all at once. In fact, Dr Luiza Petre, MD, often reminds patients to eat only half.
"Most restaurants give you a significantly larger portion than is necessary, and you have to pay attention to portion sizes," she told INSIDER. Rather than eating more than your body needs, Petre suggests ordering from the kid's menu, splitting an entrée with a friend, or putting half of the dish in a to-go box so that you are not tempted to overeat.
If you're frustrated with your lack of weight loss, you might want to take a look at your sleep patterns. According to a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, people who had too much or too little sleep and those who had inconsistent schedules were more likely to have higher body fat than people who kept regular sleep schedules.
"The exact mechanism of how exactly our sleep schedules impact body fat is not clear," said Petre. "But these findings correlate with other studies that suggest we lose fat more easily, burn more kJs and are less likely to reach for a late-night snack when we're well rested."
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