One of the most popular resolutions to make in the new year is to win the weight loss battle. But, if you’ve struggled in the past to get this goal to stick, it may be because you were following bogus advice.
Here are three common mistakes that often derail your waist-whittling efforts and some realistic tips to set you up for glory instead of gain:
When you’re skipping meals, or denying yourself an entire food group, you’re not giving your body enough of the nutrients it needs to function properly. Food is fuel, and your body is going to need it for peak performance on the job, at home or while exercising. Be aware that almost any food can fit into a healthy diet (yay!). What matters most is portion control and how often you’re eating those foods.
When it comes to slimming down, extremes and absolutes can set you up for failure, or at the very least, frustration. But simple, realistic practices can be your best weight loss partner.
New Year’s Makeover: Aim for balance. Make sure every meal incorporates three blood-sugar stabilizing nutrients: a lean protein, a healthy fat and a low-glycemic carb. Fuel up with nutritious snacks between meals — ones that pack in fiber and satiating fats. For a tasty and energy-boosting bite, mix one tablespoon of dark chocolate chips with two cups of popcorn and one tablespoon of unsweetened coconut flakes.
Avoid all or nothing statements like, “I’ll never eat cupcakes again, ever.” Celebrating your success is one of the best ways to stay motivated, so enjoy that small slice of cake. It’s not going to make or break you.
True, research shows that we routinely underestimate the number of calories we take in. But when you’re trying to lose weight, diet quality matters more than nit-picking your calorie count. For example, your body burns many more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates.
New Year’s Makeover: As part of a balanced diet, swap out some carbs for lean, protein-rich foods that can support your metabolism. Add more yogurt, seafood, skinless chicken and nuts into your diet and less red and processed meat. Replace low-quality carbs with a colorful vegetable medley, including roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts. Also, make sure to avoid high glycemic foods (sugar, white potatoes, crackers and bread), as they spike blood sugar and stimulate cravings.
Eating lots of ‘mini meals’ throughout the day was once promoted as ‘the’ way to get the slight edge on losing weight. One big problem is that planning out all those tiny meals can be a tad complicated and exhausting. And, if you don’t plan them out just right, you may be left with hunger pangs, causing you to overeat.
New Year’s Makeover: Go for the no-diet diet: three balanced meals a day. You’re more likely to commit to and succeed at a diet when it’s a no-brainer, versus one that’s overwhelming.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to be human. An occasional pizza slice is okay. Dessert is okay. One treat from time to time is not going to kill you. If you eat a slice of lasagna for lunch, that doesn’t mean you’ve ruined your success and should give up entirely — just vow to eat clean at dinner time and you’ll be back on track.
Two more things that are crucial to your success is accepting that transformation takes time. One to two pounds of weight loss per week is considered to be healthy and safe.
The other crucial point is that weight is only one health indicator. Look beyond counting calories and the number on the scale. The health markers you can’t see and measure daily, like your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels, are just as important. How is your mood? You energy level? Your mental clarity and focus? If those things are all on the up and up, you’re absolutely on the right path.
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