It's good to learn from our mistakes. The more we pay attention to what we've done wrong in the past the more successful we'll be in the future.
This is certainly true when it comes to weight loss and fitness. And, for some reason, when it comes to dealing with weight, many people put their blinders on and don't look back to see what they've done wrong. This only leads to a seemingly endless cycle of failures. It's no wonder most dieters are frustrated, anxious and often hungry.
I think people ought to try to become better consumers of dieting information just as they try to be careful when it comes to buying electronics, baby car seats or hair straighteners. In 2011, wouldn't it be nice to stop being frustrated and confused by all the weight-loss diets and products that are thrown at you daily?
With this in mind, I have put together a list of the Top 10 dieting mistakes I see people make over and over again. If you notice that any of them apply to you, try to focus on correcting these barriers to your fitness, and see what kind of progress you can make.
1. Looking for quick fixes through fad diets
The mind tends to resist when it feels deprived, and the result is loss of control over food. The body needs the right nutrition to function well, and without it, fat-burning can slow down so that you hang on to fat instead of releasing it. Quick test: If you can't picture yourself following the plan for a lifetime, don't bother for even a few weeks.
2. No regular exercise
The people who are most successful with weight and fitness tend to be active on a regular basis, yet most dieters don't take advantage of this wonderful tool.
The body has a wonderful ability to slow down its metabolism when it's not getting enough fuel to function. Undereating means losing fat more slowly, and when normal eating resumes, putting it back on faster.
4. Skipping meals
Going without food for too long can result in overeating due to ravenous hunger and a slower metabolism. Consider smaller portions, four or five times a day.
5. Drinking too many calories and not drinking enough water
Liquid calories count just as much as the solid variety, only they don't satisfy you. On the other hand, not drinking enough water can lead to thirst that can be confused for hunger. But being hydrated helps the body perform all its tasks more efficiently — including fat-burning.
6. Getting too hungry
If you want to control your food intake properly, a good trick is to not allow hunger to go beyond a "3" on a scale of 0 to 5 (0=no hunger, 5=ravenous).
7. Eating late at night
At night our body starts to slow down, readying itself for sleep. Metabolism slows and any calories eaten are more likely to be stored as fat. Try to eat your last meal by 6 p.m. If you get hungry later it probably means you didn't eat enough during the day. Pay attention to hunger at night by eating a light snack but then focus on eating properly the next day to avoid late-night hunger.
8. Not eating breakfast
After many hours without food the body is ready to be fed and start burning. Not eating breakfast keeps metabolism low, which is why numerous studies show the most successful dieters don't skip this meal. If you think you can't eat in the morning, start with small quantities and slowly increase your intake until you are eating an adequate amount.
9. Over-focusing on weight and food
This kind of preoccupation with food can increase cravings to eat. So put the focus where it counts — on the behaviors of increasing quality of eating and activity level.
10. Thinking negatively
Judging yourself harshly is self-defeating. Not only does it affect motivation but it increases stress levels, leading to overeating. Instead, pat yourself on the back for every small step forward.
Lavinia Rodriguez, Ph.D., is a Tampa clinical psychologist who specializes in weight management. She can be reached at (813) 240-9557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.