People struggle to lose weight for a number of obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. We went to fitness experts Gloria Vitolo and Mike Murray to learn how to avoid some common weight loss mistakes.
1. You stick to the same workout routineMany gym-goers get too comfortable with their workout program. Your third week on the same elliptical program will not challenge your body the way it did in week one. Murray stresses the importance of adding variety to your workouts. “You should change your workout routine every three to five weeks. If you don’t, your body will adapt to the program to the point it’s no longer effective.” Murray adds, “When your workout routine is no longer effective, you stop seeing results, get frustrated, and are likely to quit altogether.”
2. You don’t write down your goalsGloria Vitolo emphasizes the importance of writing out your weight loss goals and monitoring your progress. “Being able to look back at your goals will allow you to track your progress and provide you with motivation to thrust you forward." Fox News Mag recommends using one of these cell phone apps to help monitor your progress:
3. Your only goal is weight lossVitolo says she has countless clients tell her, “I want to lose weight.” But she always replies by asking why that person wants to lose weight. “There’s more to weight loss than a number,” she says. Vitolo and Murray both make an effort to discover the underlying reasons their clients want to get healthy. Is it the fears of not seeing your kids grow up? Is it because you want to run a 5K with your daughter? Is it to better your self-esteem? Whatever the reason may be, keeping your underlying goal in mind motivates better than any target weight could.
4. You’re on a fad dietVitolo has one piece of advice for those considering fad diets: "Don't. If you restrict your calorie consumption too much, your body will adapt and learn to survive on that 'fad' amount of calories. When you go back to eating normally again, you gain weight. It’s called the yo-yo syndrome.”
5. All you do is cardioCardio is a great way to burn calories, but if you're not losing weight despite hours of cardio, it’s time to try something new. “To lose weight, women need to fire up different muscle types that the treadmill and elliptical machines can’t reach,” Vitolo says. She recommends adding strength training to your workout, saying “it sculpts, tones, and trims all at once.”
However, women avoid strength training for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps the weights are located in the male-dominated section of the gym, or they fear strength training will cause them to bulk up instead of trim down, or maybe they don't think weight lifting will have much of an effect on their bodies. In terms of the first hurdle, women interact with men every day, and venturing to the male-dominated section of the gym exerts a sign of confidence, which is not only sexy, but important for women trying to improve their self-esteem. As for the other two excuses, don't be afraid of free weights. There are many different strength training plans that are geared specifically towards women who want to lose weight.
6. You let yesterday dictate todayWe all know the drill: It’s easier to skip the gym today because you skipped yesterday. Before you know it, you’ve skipped the gym for an entire week, and losing weight seems impossible. "It’s never too late to get back on track," Vitolo says. "And get out of the mindset that it’s okay to skip, because if you’re really trying to lose weight, it’s not!”
7. You listen to that negative voice in your headVitolo referenced a client who often complained that she's too lazy for the gym. This is the same woman who worked a full-time job, ran a family and managed to have a social life. Likewise, many of us who call ourselves "lazy" are quite the opposite. The next time that little voice says "I'm too lazy for the gym," go ahead and talk back.
8. You exercise by counting caloriesWhen it comes to weight loss, diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. But if you’re not losing weight, you might be taking that concept too literally. Burning 500 calories on the treadmill is not going to erase the 500-calorie burger you had for dinner. Murray and Vitolo both advise against the idea of “exercising so I can eat this.” As Vitolo says, “Those 100-calorie snack packs might limit your caloric intake, but they add an abundance of processed chemicals into your body that will slow down the weight loss process. When choosing your food, stay as close to nature as possible. And remember, food is fuel. Don’t exercise to work off food; let food work for you.”
9. You lack social support“It’s no coincidence that overweight families tend to be overweight together,” Vitolo says. When trying to lose weight, it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people. Friends and family who don’t support your healthy initiatives can be detrimental to your diet and exercise plan — “This one burger won’t kill you,” they might tease. No, it won’t, but each “it won’t kill you” indulgence will add up, and eventually the numbers on the scale will too. “Try finding a workout buddy," Vitolo says. "Not only does it make working out fun, but it gives you an important sense of accountability.” So don't be alone in your effort to get fit. Fox News Magazine recommends connecting with others on one of these free social networks for weight loss:
10. You need to hire a trainerIf you feel like you’re doing all you can and you're still not losing weight, hire a trainer. “Trainers always help," Murray says. "They get you to the gym, provide feedback, measure your results and build a training program based on your likes.” Just a limited number of sessions can launch you on the right track.