Weight loss…it’s a sticky situation. If you were born with a blazing fast metabolism, I envy you. For the rest of us out there struggling with losing weight (around 10 pounds or more), here are the top 6 excuses I found myself making which I believe are contributing to a plateau. By identifying these reasons, I hope I can help others find out where they are going wrong on their quest to getting to a healthier weight.
Poor Snacking Habits
Although I wouldn’t consider myself a “snacker” per say, I know that the snacks I’m eating could be of the better variety. Fritos corn chip scoops (even at the right portion size) pack less of a nutritional punch than, say, hummus and vegetables. Or hummus and pita chips, for those that are trying to learn to like vegetables (me). For salty snacks, I’ve been really into popping my own kernels of popcorn and adding a dash of oil and sea salt for flavor. I don’t miss the yellow “butter” flavor at all. As it becomes more seasonable to grow and get fresh produce, I definitely see myself going to the farmer’s market more often.
Try to cut out mindless snacking, or snacking just for the sake of doing something, and you will certainly lose weight. There’s no reason why you NEED to be eating popcorn when you’re watching a movie, and you don’t NEED to have chips after you’ve eaten lunch. It’s more of a thing we want, or think we want. In actuality, we probably don’t really need/want them that much anyway.
Too Many Liquid Calories
I know this can be a big one for some people, but it’s best to ditch the soda habits if you haven’t already. On my 16th birthday I went cold turkey and cut soda out of my diet and haven’t looked back ever since. Carbonated drinks tickle my nose and throat too much to even consider wanting them. I don’t crave those flavors because I know they’re all artificial anyway.
My own personal liquid calorie blunder comes in the form of coffee. Coffee is a beautiful and powerful thing. It can definitely be healthy, when prepared the right way. Unfortunately, I love a good caramel macchiato. I limit myself to once a week, and always get skim milk. My next challenge is to wean myself off of flavored creamers. One day I’d like to drink my coffee black without any sweeteners either, but that’s for another day.
Not Watching Your Portions
When I initially started losing weight, this was one of the easiest ways to drop the pounds. If you so choose, you can still eat the same foods you were eating before you started your ‘diet’, but just limit the portions to a smaller size. At first, this was a little difficult for me, but it became second nature once I got used to it. Invest in a good kitchen scale to measure out ingredients so you can cook at home and know exactly how much you are eating. Dry measuring cups help take the guesswork out of what a proper portion of breakfast cereal is. Liquid measuring cups let you know how much iced tea is actually in a proper serving. If you’ve been eating supersized portions, you’ll (usually) notice weight loss with this tip pretty quickly.
Not Enough Meal Planning/Prepping
I’m super guilty in this department. When I don’t plan out my meals, I end up eating something that I usually don’t want to. Of course, when I’m being mindful of eating better, I’ll choose to get one of those pre-packaged salads at the grocery store instead of a big fat sub sandwich loaded with bacon. (Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though…we all know my salads usually have crumbled bacon in them.) By cooking healthy foods earlier in the week you can save yourself some time during the week by just throwing some sauce on pre-cooked chicken breast. I like cooking quinoa or brown rice once in the beginning of the week and keeping them in separate portioned out containers. When I’m in a hurry, cutting up chicken and tossing it with teriyaki sauce, steamed stir fry veggies and quinoa is much healthier (and cheaper) than picking up something to eat on my way to work. Tossing those ingredients together make for a very quick and balanced Asian-inspired meal.
Too Many Desserts/Not Enough Fruits and Vegetables
If I had to choose, this would be my #1 main offense. I’m a sucker for a good dessert! Brownies, ice cream, a warm chocolate chip cookie…it’s really hard for me to resist the temptation of life’s finer sweets. Every time I feel myself gravitating towards chocolate more so than nutritionally-dense food, I try to take a step back and add a few more fruits and vegetables into my meals. It’s been rough, especially since I wasn’t raised with any respect for vegetables. If I wanted to ignore them, I certainly could do so. Now that I’m a full-fledged adult (umm, when did that happen?!) I realize it’s important to eat things that are good for your health, even when they don’t taste as good as pizza or brownies. I’ve noticed that when I limit the amount of dessert I consume (yes, I realize it’s a LOT), I lose weight almost immediately. Curse you, delicious treats. When I’m really desperate for sweets, I try to lighten up recipes by making smarter ingredient substitutions.
Not Making Enough Time for the Gym/Exercise
“I’m too tired. I’ll have to straighten my hair for the second time today. But the gym is sooooo far!” —These are the excuses that usually come out of my mouth. Honestly, it’s so easy to put exercise to the back-burner, especially if you’re working with very little time in your day that could be used for exercise. I’ve found that by scheduling in exercise, be it 30 minutes or a full hour, is not as difficult as it seems once you begin. For me, the hardest part is getting out of the front door. Once I’m outside stretching and getting ready for a jog, I’ve already completed my hardest task. Sometimes I like following a regimented exercise schedule, and other times I like to be spontaneous and do exercises I feel that my body needs. Find something that works for you! If you hate traditional cardio, try Zumba or kickboxing. Do you hate getting stared at using weights in the gym? Me too. Buy a set of dumbbells and follow a weight lifting routine in the privacy of your own home. Whatever will keep you motivated to exercise is worth giving a try.
What are some of your favorite ways to make healthy living a priority? I’m always looking for more inspiration!