“You are successful the moment you start moving toward a worthwhile goal”— Charles Carlson
We’ve all been there before: The seemingly insurmountable challenge of controlling our diet. Well, I would love to help you on your weight loss journey, by sharing with you these 8 common mistakes that we’re all guilty of making, followed by their respective weight loss tips.
1. Too many sodas
This would be, unfortunately, the number one cause of difficulty for most of us that are trying to control our weight. Sodas are literally liquid sugar. They’re worse than fast foods, worse than fried foods, worse than barbecued foods, etc. You name it, it’s worse than it. They also contain close to zero nutritional content.
However, they taste so dang nice, and are irresistibly refreshing on a hot day.
But, therein lies the secret.
Weight Loss Tip 1:
Replace your sodas with something equally refreshing, but just a little healthier. It does not, by any means, need to be cups of plain water everyday.
These could be anything from fruit juice to a fragrant cup of tea. It could even be a cup of Milo or Horlicks.
And the key to this, as with anything that you tackle in life, would be to do this in small bite-sized steps.
You don’t start a game at level one and expect to defeat the boss at the get-go. No, you take your time, slowly but surely, gaining experience and better gear along the way. The same goes for eradicating sodas out of your life. Take it one step at a time.
Eliminate just one, only one, can of soda next week. And then the week after, increase that to two. If that feels like too much, then stay at one for the next two weeks, and advance only when you feel like you won’t crack in the long term.
Take baby steps, and before you know it, you’ll be back in the driver’s seat of your weight loss journey.
2. Overeating processed foods
Here’s the number two cause of weight gain, following an over consumption of sodas.
Processed food, and especially fast food, has become a staple in most of our cultures, which is highly unfortunate. They are highly calorie dense, contain very little amounts of nutrients, and are advertised heavily to be available around the clock at a low price.
However, you already know all of this. You don’t need me to tell you that they’re unhealthy.
More importantly, don’t beat yourself up over it. We all love fast food, and they’re hard to resist for even the most disciplined of individuals.
Weight Loss Tip 2:
How then, do we change a lifestyle of processed food into one that’s mostly devoid of one? (Notice I used the word “mostly”. I will never advocate nor vouch for a complete deviation from fast food. That’s insanity, even for me).
Well, we do so by taking baby steps, similar to how we control our soda intake.
Next week, change only one of your unhealthy meals into a healthy one. Just one, and only one. Heck, if that sounds too difficult for you, take out ONE aspect of that unhealthy meal and replace it with something else.
For example, remove the fries from your McDonalds meal (*gasp*! Difficult, I know, but you can do it), and replace it with a corn cup. Or, maybe eat the same meal you’ve always been eating, just that this time, don’t “upsize” it.
As long as you take a step in the right direction, no matter how small that step, that counts as a victory in every essence of the word, and you should give yourself a pat on the back.
Before you know it, you’ll be looking at that plate of fries, and going “Nah, I don’t need that anymore.”
3. Eating in the absence of hunger
Here’s the next big killer in our weight loss journeys, also known as snacking.
Our environment and culture are largely to blame for this. We live in a world whereby we eat, and overeat, because it’s a particular event, season, time or gathering. Nowadays, hunger rarely lies at the core of why we eat, which is scary if you think of it.
We’re so conditioned to eating that we often get “fake” or false hunger signals from our brain to our body, simply upon the sight or smell of food. This is merely a matter of conditioning, as if we all acted this way, every waiter, chef, and restaurant owner you saw would be a big round ball.
If you’re looking to lose some weight, you will have to put in less than you are putting out. That’s basic math at work, and this law of the universe can’t be worked around.
The logical question would then be: How do I know when I’m actually hungry and when I’m not?
Well, I always believe in simplicity when it comes to fitness. Follow this simple rule to test it out:
Weight Loss Tip 3:
If you feel hungry, don’t immediately succumb to the pangs. Hold off for 30 minutes. And then check back if you’re still hungry.
That’s basically it. You could also extend it by an additional 30 minutes if you still feel mildly hungry after the first 30, just to be sure.
If you feel faint, or your stomach starts to growl, eat. If the hunger disappears, or you seem to have forgotten about it while doing other things, then that’s great, don’t eat. Biologically, your body will send stronger and stronger signals when it’s actually in danger (i.e. a lack of food to operate properly), so don’t worry about how this might cause you to starve yourself.
If you feel like snacking late at night, just remind yourself when you pick up that candy bar “I don’t actually need this. I’m strong enough to wait another 30 minutes“. Put it down, walk away, and return later. Usually, that initial break away from temptation is all we need to move away entirely.
4. Not eating satisfying meals
Imagine two distinctly different scenarios:
1. You are served a meal from the almighty Gordon Ramsay himself. It’s a plate of steaming steak, succulent on the outside and tender on the inside. There’s a good dollop of mash on the side, glowing as if part of the sun itself was embedded inside. Even the greens look as if they could be eaten on their own.
2. You are served a meal in a school cafeteria (forgive the stereotype). The meat loaf looks as if it was refrigerated for the past year, the fries are soft, gooey, and burnt all over, and the bun looks as though it fell out of the food truck, got ran over and then was tossed back in again.
Even if you knew that both consisted of the exact same number of calories, which do you think you would feel fuller from eating? The choice is obvious.
When the meal looks good, smells good, and tastes good, and when we’re able to enjoy the meal, psychologically we feel happier and better, which translates to feeling fuller.
Weight Loss Tip 4:
When you’re switching to healthy alternatives, don’t eat crappy meals.
If a mug of celery juice is gonna make you depressed, then don’t drink it. I personally wouldn’t touch those with a 10 foot pole.
A low quality of meals in the earlier part of the day usually always results in overeating later on to emotionally overcompensate for it. Even if you’re eating less, don’t further punish yourself by eating bland food.
There’s a big difference between viewing healthy alternatives as a torture, and viewing it as an exploration into a new journey that you never thought possible. No one is asking you to go vegan.
Contrary to popular belief, healthy food can taste nice. Very nice.
5. Skipping meals
You may think that skipping meals results in an overall calorie loss. Well, more often than not, it merely results in a temporary calorie loss, only to be topped up again later during the day.
Most people on diets try to skip breakfast. It’s quantitatively the smallest meal, and so seems the easiest to ignore.
However, what often happens instead is that you get extremely hungry as lunch time approaches, causing you to overeat during lunch. To make matters worse, you get more mentally exhausted and emotionally drained as the day goes on, hampering your efforts to resist processed food during lunch and dinner.
Many others skip meals for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s due to a work project, and there wasn’t any time to catch a bite. Others try to suppress their appetite with other substances, such as coffee or chewing gum or sweets.
These all inevitably lead to the same conclusion, of irresistible hunger taking over leading to poor food decisions.
Weight Loss Tip 5:
Don’t skip meals. For most people, it just doesn’t work, especially at the beginning.
Instead, reduce the quantity of each meal, but never the frequency as per what your body is used to. Some of us eat only 2 meals a day, others 4-5, and have been doing so for years. That’s perfectly fine, as long as you control the quantity of each meal.
Remember, we’re going for consistency here, a pattern you can follow for the rest of your life. And if it doesn’t seem like you can skip breakfast forever, don’t even try attempting it now.
6. Using food to manage feelings
Ah, and here we come to the crutch that many of us depend on in life. Whether it be food, alcohol, cigarettes or binging on video games, (Whats that? There’s no such thing as video game addiction…) we’re all guilty of depending upon something external to distract us from the real problem.
Eating never actually solves the issue at hand, but merely temporarily alleviates the feeling of discomfort. While eating the cookie, oh that glorious cookie, you are focused on the cookie and all is well.
But, once the cookie is gone (oh, so quickly it is gone), the rush is gone and your emotions come surging back in. Unfortunately, this often always results in us feeling worse off in the end.
Well, how do we solve this then?
Weight Loss Tip 6:
Face it as it is. Admit to yourself that you are using food merely as an outlet to distract yourself away from the real issue.
Once you admit this, it opens up a whole myriad of doors for you. There are multiple ways for you to momentarily distract yourself from the problem at hand other than consuming food.
- You could force yourself out of the house and take a nice walk down the street
- You could go and take your dog out for a walk.
- You could do that small favor or buy that small gift that you’ve always wanted to for your spouse or child.
- You could take a long relaxing bathe (don’t bring food in!) and read that book you’ve always wanted to.
This is not to say that you should distract yourself from your emotions rather than deal with the root cause. But, any of these activities would serve the same purpose as eating while being a dozen times more beneficial. In addition, it sure as heck doesn’t make you feel even worse after doing it.
7. Going on diets
What’s that? Going on a diet is actually a bad thing for weight loss? Well, yes, in a way. It’s good on a fundamental level, in that it forces you to eat less and/or healthier. But, it’s very nature in forcing you to do something is its biggest flaw.
A diet serves as a set of rules, or strict guidelines, that you’re being forced to follow. Thus, once the diet is over, i.e. the rules are gone, “all hell breaks loose”, and it becomes incredibly easy to slink back down into your normal eating habits. If anything, its normal to end up binging on as much food as you can before the next diet starts again.
Weight Loss Tip 7:
Don’t do diets. Seriously. If at some point you’re on a diet, at some point you’re going to be off it. And we’re looking for long term solutions here, habits that you can comfortably maintain throughout your lifetime.
Instead of diets, focus on making healthy meal plans, weekly plans that you feel good and comfortable with. Include a bit of that ice cream with your kids, a bit of that fried chicken on the weekend, a can or two of sodas a week. Because when you’re happy, you can be consistent.
And in fitness, consistency is key. No one truly feels happy eating chicken breast and broccoli forever.
8. An environment that is not conducive
Last, but not least, any form of habit requires a suitable environment to be formed. Think about it this way:
- Would you be able to brush your teeth every day if you had to walk two miles each time to get your toothbrush?
- Would you be able to prevent yourself from watching the television at all if I placed one comfortably in front of your bed?
- Would you be able to concentrate if each time you had to study in a nightclub with blaring music?
No, most certainly not. You would have to have superhuman willpower in order to be able to accomplish these in such an environment.
Thus, the same goes for your eating habits. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to stop snacking if all those snacks are within an arm’s reach of your bedroom. It’s going to be nigh impossible to stop eating unhealthy food if it’s just laying about your house.
Weight Loss Tip 8:
Change your environment. Remove everything unhealthy from your immediately vicinity. Just do it!
If you’ve got to walk to the store every time you feel like snacking on a bag of chips, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to eat as much as you used to.
Additionally, do the reverse. Stuff your house in its entirety with bright, colorful fruits and vegetables.
As an added point, bananas are a fantastic replacement to unhealthy snacks. I call it the banana diet. Leave a bunch of them just outside your bedroom. Whenever you feel like snacking, stuff a banana or two into your mouth. It’s very unlikely that you will keep thinking of eating after consuming a few bananas.
And that’s a wrap! I hope these weight loss tips were helpful to those you just starting out.
As always, if you’ve any questions at all, feel free to fire away. We were all beginners once, and there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
Interested in training together with me? Click here to get in touch with me, and I’ll be more than happy to meet you!