Every single day, I talk to people who are making these 10 fatal mistakes. They say they want to lose weight, they say they want to keep it off - that they're looking for something they can maintain and a way to live a healthier lifestyle while still being "normal" and living a real - totally hectic lifestyle.
People come to me all the time who are discouraged and don't know how to start making healthy changes and feel totally deflated because NOTHING they've tried in the past has worked. A lot of people end up trying diets and failing over and over again and then lose all hope that weight loss is even possible - that maybe that's just how their body is shaped and it can't be changed - or that their genetics must just be working against them.
If you're making any of these 10 fatal mistakes, you're going about weight loss and healthy changes all wrong.
1. Trying shakes, pills or cleanses, expecting them to bring long term weight loss or healthy changes
Just a few days ago, I talked to someone who had a trainer recommend new pills (that supposedly weren't diet pills) but were supposed to help her lose weight and really get trim. She trusted her trainer, invested a bunch of money and was totally disappointed when they didn't work. Luckily, she was able to get her money back.
But you know she wasn't the only one who believed those miraculous success stories -- and then got fooled.
All shakes, pills, cleanses, etc. are designed to only be successful if you waste your money on them FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Ugh. Doesn't that sound horrible??
Where are my strong, independent, successful women!?
Being chained to shakes, pills, cleanses or anything similar goes against who you are and what you believe in. Why be strong in every other area of your life and then be totally trapped by expensive weird diet fads that don't even work? You're strong enough to dominate the corporate world and the entrepreneur path on your own - and you're definitely strong enough to lose weight and create healthy habits without dumb fads, shakes, pills or cleanses.
Also, talk about expensive. If you have to continually pay for products every month for the rest of your life in order to see long term weight loss, is it really worth it?
Those shakes, pills and cleanses only work for as long as you're doing them. They aren't going to kick-start your healthy changes. They might give you short-term weight loss and then leave you totally disappointed because you gain it back the next week once the cleanse is over -- and you'll probably feel even more lost than before because now you don't know where to start. Those diet pills and shakes didn't teach you how to make a SINGLE healthy change on your own. So now you're right back where you started. And it totally sucks.
2. Getting too excited and throwing out all junk food overnight, doing a total revamp of your kitchen and buying a gym pass, expecting to workout 5 times a week
You know what I'm talking about. You get super pumped and you're finally ready to lose weight, take control, start eating right and start exercising. Your life is about to change and you are soooo ready!
So you do what any other normal person would do - you rummage through ALL of your cupboards in one afternoon - throw out ALL your junk food - and take it to the trashcan outside to be sure it's really OUT of your house - no turning back. Then you go to the grocery store and a bunch of veggies, spinach, Naked juices, fruit and anything else that looks super healthy.
You now have a fully stocked - healthy - fridge. Aaaah. You did it! You stand back, brush your shoulder off and walk away tall, proud of everything you just accomplished. Weight loss is about to happen and you're gonna kill it.
But wait, you also get ambitious and sign up for a gym membership (from home of course, because who wants to actually take the time to drive to the gym when you can get a membership online from the comfort of your desk - which doesn't even require putting pants on?). Maybe you sign up for a few trainer sessions too.
You're doing this. It's late in the day and everything is prepped for your healthy lifestyle. You go to bed feeling proud and ready for those skinny pants to come out of retirement!
But then life sets in.
Let me be perfectly clear: YOU CANNOT MAKE EVERY HEALTHY CHANGE AT ONCE!!!
It is unrealistic in every way.
If you try to change your entire cupboard, cook completely different and workout like a maniac overnight, you're going to drive yourself crazy. And if you have a family or roommates, you're going to drive them crazy too.
And you're going to get burnt out.
And then you're going to get disappointed.
And then you're going to feel like a failure.
So just don't. Changing your entire lifestyle in an afternoon is too unrealistic. I get that you're excited, and that's awesome, but be realistic with yourself. Do you really have time to prepare a 3 hour meal every. single. day??
No, you don't. Ain't nobody got time for that.
So in case you missed it, YOU CANNOT MAKE EVERY HEALTHY CHANGE AT ONCE. SLOW YOUR ROLL!
3. Feeling guilty ANY time you eat sugar, grab fast food or indulge
Mmmhmmm... I'm talking to you. And you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.
Healthy = no cheat days, right?
Wait... what are cheat days anyway? And isn't all sugar bad for me? Shouldn't I feel totally guilty and ashamed that I even crave that dark chocolate cupcake with perfect buttercream frosting?
...falls into la-la land...
Give me a break! This is real life, people! Unless you're training for some athletic competition or you're set on having 15% body fat (which isn't a common goal), then you don't need to deprive yourself.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you should go indulge and eat 5 cupcakes a day, every day. That's a bit excessive.
But never eating sugar? Feeling guilty about indulging? That's total crap.
I don't want to live like that -- in fact, I don't live like that. And I'm guessing you don't want to live like that either. So stop feeling guilty for having taste buds and get out of your own head. There's no need to hang your head low anytime you crave sugar and enjoy every moment you indulge in your favorite treat.
Again, it's unrealistic to completely cut out all sugar and any food that brings you joy. You'll be miserable and you won't last long anyway. Don't do it.
4. Eating salad every time you go out to eat because you think it's healthier (hint: it's not)
Seriously. You think you have to eat salad because you think it's healthier? I rarely eat salad because I just don't like it. Ok, on occasion, a really good salad hits the spot for me, but that's definitely the exception.
Restaurant salads? HA! I just looked up the nutrition info for one of my favorite restaurants, and their Caesar salad with chicken was 1510 calories (not even sure if that includes the dressing), and an entire Pepperoni pizza (meant to be shared) is 1570 calories. Very curious!
Another salad - BBQ Chicken - which I think looks pretty good, is 960 calories, without dressing.. add 2 tablespoons of dressing and you're up to 1100 calories. The Hawaiian pizza (again, meant to be shared between 2-4 people) has 1440 calories - just 340 calories more but more people would be eating it. We haven't even talked about the meals that are fewer calories - but I thought this was a pretty hilarious comparison.
If you don't believe me, look at the nutrition facts of a few of your favorite restaurants. You'll be surprised. And you'll probably start ordering steak, potatoes and veggies when you go out to eat. That's what I do. It's usually similar or fewer calories than a salad and it tastes WAAAAY better. Why waste the money going out if you're going to eat like a rabbit and find out it wasn't a healthy option anyway.
Salad = healthy is a hoax.
[Disclaimer: sometimes salads are healthy, but that's usually when they're home-made.]
5. Putting off making any healthy changes because (fill in the blank)
I hear this ALL the time! I want to wait to start eating better.... I'll start exercising when I...
After my midterms
Move into my new house
Get to know the ropes of my new job
Stop traveling so much for work
Find a new job
When my kids get a little older
Get more sleep (ha!)
Start healing from an injury/illness (this is the only legit reason)
You can always find a reason to put off eating better and exercising. You're fooling yourself if you think that waiting for ANY of these reasons will actually make it easier for you to lose weight and/or make healthy lifestyle changes. (Unless you're injured or have an illness that prevents you from moving forward the way you like - sometimes medically you need to slow down and that's really the only legit reason to wait. Not sure about this? Consult your doctor.)
YOU ARE FOOLING YOURSELF.
Life doesn't slow down, it doesn't magically open a door and clear your schedule and say: "Here you go, this is the magical time and the magical formula to finally lose that weight you've been saying you want to shed for years."
Grow up. It doesn't happen that way.
There will never be a perfect time to lose weight and you will never avoid all obstacles so if you're waiting for that time, know that it's never going to happen.
Harsh reality, I know. But it's true.
You either come to terms with the fact that you just aren't going to drop the weight or you come to terms with the fact that you have to start making changes no matter how not ideal your circumstances are. Your choice.
6. Getting disappointed by slow weight loss (because you're expecting quick, big changes overnight)
That's the world we live in, right? Everything else in life is quick, so our weight loss and journey to a healthy lifestyle should be quick, too -- right?
Wrong. You can read more details here, but this is what I'll tell you today:
You probably didn't gain your weight overnight, so it's unrealistic to think you'll lose it overnight. And as many times as you've probably heard this before, I'll tell you again - it's not healthy to drop a ton of weight really fast.
It is actually better for you to lose the weight slowly.
When you lose weight really fast, it's more unlikely that you'll be able to keep the weight off and sustain healthy habits because healthy methods to lose weight and keep it off require more time.
So the gist - losing weight fast is unrealistic, unhealthy and unlikely to produce long term results. Look at it that way and it'll be easier to be patient.
Nobody goes into weight loss like "I want to be unhealthy, unrealistic and be super unlikely to actually have long term results." But if you're stuck on losing weight fast, that's exactly what you're telling yourself.
7. Getting into conversations about which healthy approach is best
You want to make healthy changes and all of a sudden you're involved in conversations about whether vegetables hold more nutrients when they're boiled, steamed or fried.
Seriously, I hear this all time. What's the best way to cook veggies? If you're going from hot pockets to veggies, it doesn't matter how you prepare them - they'll have more nutrients than a hot pocket. Guaranteed. Stop making it so complicated.
Replace something unhealthy with a healthier option and you'll be on the right track.
8. Refusing to ask for help - If you think "I already know how to lose weight, I'm just not doing it" - This is for you!
I see this ALL the time!! And in fact, I was guilty of this before I started making healthy changes too. Yup. Totally guilty.
I used to think - "there's no way I'm going to pay for a fitness class - I was an athlete, I know how to workout!" If you've ever thought that or maybe: "I know I need to eat better, I'm just not doing it - I don't need someone to tell me how to eat better, I already know that!! UGH!!"
Sorry, but here's a newsflash: you don't. If you think you know how to make healthy changes, but you aren't doing anything about it, you're missing something. Maybe you think you know how to make healthy changes in a totally perfect, non-chaotic world, but you don't know how to make healthy changes right now. If you did, you would be doing it.
There is a BIG difference between understanding the theory behind something and understanding how to practically apply it. You might think you understand how to lose weight because you've heard people (like me) say in order to lose weight, you have to eat less. But that doesn't mean you understand how to lose weight by eating less (while still eating enough, but not driving yourself crazy).
When you refuse help because you think you know how to create healthy changes, you're just stunting your own progress.
Turning to "band-aid solutions" like pills, shakes and cleanses isn't the answer (duh, we already talked about this). But, asking for help - even paying for it so you can actually learn how to take control and make healthy changes in your current situation - it's totally ok. It's totally normal. And sometimes, it's totally necessary.
9. Feeling ashamed because your body doesn't look "half-naked, Instagram worthy"
This one really gets me. We see images all day long of women with "perfect bodies." Sometimes we get super self-conscious because we think we don't look the way we should.
There's a big difference between not looking the way YOU want to look and not looking the way you think OTHERS want you to look. Or thinking you don't look the way you SHOULD. Who determines that anyway?
Let's be honest, this is a really big mental hurdle. A lot of us struggle with feeling self-conscious when there's no need to feel that way.
And in fact, most of us don't even want to post half naked pictures on Instagram. Most of us just want to feel comfortable wearing shorts. That's the irony.
So if that's your goal, you need to embrace it. Stop feeling ashamed because you have different goals than someone else. Know your goals, be confident in your goals and move forward with those goals. It's super important to understand what your weight loss and healthy lifestyle goals are, to be confident in those goals and to work toward them. And once you achieve those goals, you should celebrate them.
There's no need to be ashamed because you don't think you look "half-naked, Instagram worthy." No shame at all. Look how you want to look and be confident in that.
10. Being unwilling to work
This is a big kicker. Losing weight, making lifestyle changes, eating healthier, exercising - it all requires work. I think that's why so many people turn to diets - they think they'll get quicker results with a smaller amount of effort -- even though all the diets piled on top of each other usually mean it requires more work and brings fewer results in the long run.
It's no secret that healthy lifestyle changes require concentrated effort and require you to actually put the work in.
If you're unwilling to work, you're not going to see results.
Plain and simple.
The beginning will be the hardest and those healthy changes will get easier over time, but you better believe you'll have to put in the work. It's possible. Totally possible to lose weight without trainers and make healthy lifestyle changes - but it's never going to happen if you're just waiting to wake up one morning and magically step on the scale to see you've lost 10 pounds.
Come on. You know that's unrealistic, right? Stop waiting for that and stop expecting it. Expect to put in the work and see results because of it. I always say - healthy changes turn into healthy habits, which turn into a healthy lifestyle. And the further down that road you get, the easier it gets. But it definitely requires work.
If you're not willing to work (not work yourself into the ground), but if you're not willing to work, you're not going to successfully lose weight and you definitely aren't going to keep it off.