You’ve diligently counted calories, exercised regularly, increased your physical activity, and limited your food intake for weeks, yet your weight refuses to budge. You’re perplexed and searching for an explanation, but the culprit may be lurking among the insignificant habits you perform throughout the day – the seemingly unimportant actions that do not appear to influence weight loss but could be thwarting your fitness efforts.
The following nine habits may be hindering your weight loss goals, and correcting them can help you achieve success in slimming down.
1. You are on a diet
Diets usually mean giving things up—your favorite foods, dining out, desserts—even your social life.
You don’t have to be a psychology expert to know that when you tell yourself you can’t have something, you usually want it more.
This way of thinking could directly be sabotaging your efforts.
So, ditch the diets for good and focus on creating a healthy lifestyle based on nutritious foods and small, realistic changes that you can live with for the long term.
2. You’re too focused on the scale
Weight is an easy way to measure your progress, but it doesn’t tell you the whole story.
Even if the scale isn’t budging, that does not mean that you’re not making major progress toward losing weight and getting healthier.
You can lose inches, get fitter, gain lean muscle mass, drop body fat, become better hydrated, look better and feel more energized without the pounds budging at all.
Remember that the scale tells you only one thing: the total mass of all your body parts at a given moment.
Don’t put too much thought into it. Weigh yourself less frequently (about once every 1-2 weeks), and track all the other signs that amazing changes are happening in your body even if the scale doesn’t move.
This is the best way to stay motivated for the long haul.
3. You don’t get enough sleep
Not enough sleep puts your body into a carb and fat craving survival mode.
Numerous studies have found that women who slept fewer than four hours ate 300 more calories and 21 more grams of fat the next day.
So, for a week, go to bed seven and a half hours before you need to get up. If you awaken before the alarm, you can get by with less sleep.
But if you hit snooze, you may need eight, even nine, hours a night to wake up refreshed, recharged, and ready to burn some fat.
4. You are constantly stressed
A hectic schedule, challenging job, family drama—whatever the reason for your stress, it may be the underlying cause of your weight loss struggles.
That’s because of the stress hormone called cortisol, which may increase the amount of fat your body stores away.
In fact, research has shown that higher levels of cortisol have been linked to greater amounts of visceral fat. Learn to meditate or take a yoga class to help you de-stress.
5. You are not lifting weights
This may be one of the most common reasons your weight loss is stalling. Yes, you can lose weight through a combination of diet and cardio but it will be a lot harder.
Sure, cardio is important. But if you always opt for a run or bike ride, you likely won’t reach your weight loss goals.
If your primary goal is fat loss, there are other forms of exercise that give a much better bang for your buck. The best way to lose weight and build lean muscle is by doing some form of strength training in addition to your cardio.
The more muscle tone your body has, the more fat you’ll burn.
But if you’re not ready to let go of your daily cardio routine just yet, try adding interval training since these types of workouts are much more effective at targeting fat than cardio alone.
6. You’re eating too much processed foods
When in doubt, skip any refined foods. That means white bread, crackers, chips, plus all those sneaky refined sugars in packaged foods.
All of these unhealthy items increase inflammation in the body. Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat.
Instead, stick to whole, clean foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
7. You’re eating “healthy” and “low-calorie” foods
Research shows that when shoppers see “healthy” buzz words or claims on food packages (think: gluten-free, organic, all-natural, sugar-free, low-fat, etc.), they automatically assume the food is low in calories.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Food manufacturers will plaster all sorts of enticing lingo onto their packages, knowing that you’ll think exactly that.
But none of these words really tell you much about the healthfulness of a product; and none of them actually have any affect on a food’s calories.
So, read front-of-package labels with a discerning eye, and always turn over the package and look at the nutrition facts (and ingredients) to get a full picture of what a food is really like.
This goes for restaurant menus, too.
Don’t let healthy-sounding words make you think a food is actually low in calories.
Know your menu watch words or look up nutrition facts before you place your order.
8. Y0u’re eating too little
If cutting calories is good for weight loss, then eating as little as possible is better, right? Wrong and especially if you’re also trying to fuel your body for regular workouts.
You need to eat a certain calorie level to function optimally and get all its essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.
Eating much less than that can cause serious problems in the long term and damage your metabolism, making weight loss even harder.
9. You give up too early
No person who ever lost weight successfully reached that goal because they were perfect all the time.
Setbacks happen to everyone, even the most successful people. We’ve all had days where we made a poor food decision during a meal—or even for an entire day.
We’ve all missed workouts, forgot the lunch we packed, or been too busy to cook a diet-friendly meal at home.
But those who continue dropping the pounds pick themselves up, forgive themselves from their mistakes, learn from their slip-ups, and just keep right on going.
Remember that perfection has no place in a weight loss plan.
When you do make a mistake or feel like you’re not making enough progress, don’t give up.
Change requires time and old habits die hard.
Remember it takes 21 days for change to form a habit and 90 days to make it a lifestyle.