You make sure to eat well, sneak in some extra superfoods and kale salads, cut your sugar intake, take the stairs, and work out when you don’t feel like it just to drop a few pounds.
You believe those pounds will continue to drop steadily every week because you’re really working your tush off. But then you step on that wretched scale and see the same numbers you saw last week.
“What the %$#!”, you shout in a moment of major frustration, “Not even a single pound shed?!”
No, your scale isn’t broken, so put it down and resist the urge to throw it out the window.
You may be tempted to turn to weight loss pills, fad diets, and liquid slimdowns to jump start your weight loss again, but I’m going to stop you for a minute.
I want you to consider the fact that you may be unknowingly sabotaging your weight loss results by committing some of these common mistakes.
1.You Skip Breakfast
skip breakfastYou may think that skipping breakfast will save you some calories for the day. And it’s so easy to hit the snooze button and sleep just a bit longer before you rush out the door.
But guess what?
Research shows that those who skip breakfast actually crave more high calorie foods throughout the day, definitely not what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.
You see, when you eat breakfast, you’re kick starting your metabolism after its night of rest. If you don’t wake that metabolism up, your body continues to stay in “fast mode” and starts craving high calorie, high fat foods to keep your body alive. Just like a hibernating bear.
I’m just taking a guess here, but I bet you’re not trying to pack on the pounds for your long winter nap, right?
As if you didn’t need another reason to make time for the most important meal of the day, eating a big breakfast instead of a big dinner has also been associated with decreases in weight and waistline inches.
So no more excuses!
To help you embrace the magic of breakfast, try some of my quick, healthy breakfast hacks and see if you can’t shake some of those unwanted pounds loose.
2. You’re Chained to Your Desk Job
stressed at workBesides that sinking feeling of being strapped to your computer between the hours of 9 and 5, your metabolism may also be suffering from a lack of movement.
Your body halts production of lipase, an important enzyme that breaks down fats, when you park your butt in that desk chair all day.
Both tissues and muscles produce lipase, but studies involving rats show that leg muscles only produce lipase when the muscles are actively being flexed, like during walking or standing.
The NY Times mentions two studies about the dangers of sedentary jobs.
In the first, men who were normal walkers were asked to cut back their walks for two weeks and use the elevators instead of the stairs. After two weeks, all of the men became “worse at metabolizing sugars and fats” and put weight on around their midsections.
The second study discovered that those who take frequent small breaks during hours of sitting at their desks “had smaller waists and better profiles for sugar and fat metabolism than those…sitting in long, uninterrupted chunks”.
So it’s clear to see that our bodies were not designed to sit in chairs all day. Shape magazine suggests taking business calls standing instead of sitting down because standing “burns 50 percent more calories than sitting”.
If you really want to use your chair for good, hold mini-workouts in your cubicle.
Straightening your legs in front of you for leg extensions is easy to do while typing, or try some triceps dips on the edge of your desk chair, or even stash some weights for easy bicep curls.
No matter what you do, take a break every hour to work your muscles, activate some lipase, and de-stress.
Which brings me to another point: I bet you didn’t know that being stressed may also be why you’re not banishing belly fat.
3. You’re Way Too Stressed Out
drink tea stressedRegardless of if you’re a stress eater binging on sweets or salty snacks to cope, stress takes a pretty messed up toll on our bodies…and our waistlines.
When we’re stressed out, our bodies produce cortisol, also known as the fight-or-flight hormone and the “stress” hormone. Cortisol promotes fat storage and that stored fat likes to sit around your waist like a cumbersome belt you can’t seem to take off.
One study at Yale concluded that healthy, normal weight women vulnerable to the effects of stress have higher levels of cortisol and thus greater chances of having excess abdominal fat.
It also increases insulin resistance so your body has higher blood sugar levels, putting you at risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity. No thank you!
Additionally, cortisol actually makes our bodies crave high calorie foods. There are direct correlations between high cortisol levels and cravings, because cortisol controls other hormones that stimulate our appetite.
If you need to decompress during stressful periods, take a walk outside in nature or make a warm cup of soothing (metabolism boosting) green tea.
Sometimes you can banish stress (and help your weight loss) by just sleeping more.
4. You’re Not Sleeping Enough
not sleeping enoughSure, it’s definitely a challenge getting eight straight hours of shuteye, there’s just so much to do and not enough time to get it all done.
But this desire for accomplishment may be ruining your weight loss goals.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body goes into survival mode and starts to crave fat and carbs, which you’re probably actively limiting on your weight loss diet.
One study found that women sleeping less than four hours every night consumed 300 additional calories and 21 more grams of fat the following day!
Another study, this time conducted on men, had similar results and showed that participants who only slept four hours ate more calories and actually felt hungrier the next morning.
No one should be missing out on those crucial hours of restorative sleep. That’s when you have the chance to restore a healthy balance to the hormones in your body.
Sleep will reduce your cortisol levels, produce growth hormone (GH), and keep your hunger hormones in check. This is super important because GH pushes the body towards fat loss and muscle growth.
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, check out some of my tips on how to overcome insomnia here.
After you check out the next reason for why you may not be losing weight, you’re going to need that sleep to wake up bright and early for your workouts.
5. You Don’t Exercise in the Morning
morning excerciseMost people don’t have the willpower to wake up early to pump some iron before they have to get ready for work.
I mean, you have to get your workout clothes on while you’re half asleep, do a complete workout before your morning coffee, and then get ready and brave commuter traffic. It can be a lot to deal with, to say the least.
But if you put off working out until you get home, or until the kids are asleep at night, you may be unknowingly eating extra calories throughout the day.
Typically, people consume 50% more calories when they believe they’ll be working out later to burn them off. Hold on though, exercise can’t erase bad eating habits, Jillian Michaels says.
If you plan to burn 300 calories during your late night jog and instead eat 500 more calories at lunch, your future workout won’t get you anywhere. In fact, you may actually start gaining weight.
However, working out early in the day sets you up for feeling kind of guilty anytime you get the urge to binge on something bad and “ruin” the hard work you woke up so early to accomplish.
So when you do workout, make sure you’re working out at the right time and the right way.
6. You’re All About that Cardio
cardioCardio is wonderful for our bodies and hearts; it gets the blood pumping and our sweat dripping (cue that Olivia Newton-John workout video).
But staying “above 75% of your maximum heart rate for extended periods of time”, like when you do cardio routines, will force your body to burn glycogen, or the main source of fuel for our cells.
You want to burn fat and build muscle. When you burn your glycogen stores, your body will crave sugar throughout the day to replenish them. Say hello to weight gain from all those extra carbs and sugars you’ll be eating!
Instead, Muscle and Fitness tells us that supplementing your cardio routine with weight training will have better and quicker results for your weight loss.
“Weight training produces a phenomenon called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)…This means that your metabolism is going to stay elevated after you exercise, so you continue burning calories even after you are done training”.
The article claims that metabolisms can sometimes stay elevated for up to 72 hours after an intense weight training session!
Keep in mind that your weight on the scale may not fluctuate when you’re building lean, dense muscle; while you may be losing pounds of fat and gaining muscle mass, your scale will not be able to tell the difference.
Always be sure to keep super hydrated before, during, and after your workouts.
7. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
drinking waterEven though you carry around that trusty water bottle everywhere you go, you may still not be getting enough H2O.
Matthew Kornblatt, a N.A.S.M. certified personal trainer and owner of RightFit Nation, told Men’s Fitness that water “not only [hydrates] your body, but it also speeds up your metabolism and suppresses your hunger”.
So when you feel the urge to snack, try downing a glass of water and then assess how you feel.
Stay away from sugar laden energy drinks, diet sodas, and empty calories from alcoholic mixed drinks, they’ll do you no favors and may even cause you to be more thirsty since they’re known for dehydrating our bodies.
Believe me, weight loss is just the tip of the water-is-amazing-for-you iceberg. Try throwing some hydrating cucumbers or lemons in your water to reap all their fantastic health benefits.
But be sure to bring some cash to pay for those additions at the grocery store…
8. You Pay for Food with a Credit Card
pay for foodI bet you never thought that what you use to purchase your food matters for your waistline. Well, it actually does.
You may think you’re buying healthy food, but if you’re paying with a credit or debit card, you may be a little more lenient with your cheat foods and occasional junk food purchases.
One study mentioned by Health discovered that people who use credit cards when grocery shopping buy way more unhealthy, calorie-dense foods than those who use cash.
According to study co-author Kalpesh Desai, PhD, associate professor of marketing at Binghamton University: “Junk-food buyers were perfectly aware of the extra calories and cost of those treats, but since they didn’t feel the immediate hit in the wallet, they gave in more easily to impulse buys”.
Try to get in the habit of making an itemized menu list (complete with average food costs) before you run to the ATM to grab only the amount of cash you need (plus tax).
Leave your credit cards at home before grocery shopping and you physically won’t have the cash to pay for those impulse buys. That’s a quick way to stop junk foods from accumulating in your pantry, right?
Every time you start a diet you have to purge all the unapproved bad foods from your kitchen. All that waste can make you feel uber guilty.