There are a number of mistakes that can be made with weight loss, some easy to know and some hard to understand. Why is this? The health and fitness industry is booming. People are becoming more and more aware of the importance that their health has on their lives and as a result are taking more action to ensure they live their healthy best.
With the almost 2 in 3 Australian adults being overweight or obese in 2014*, weight loss has well and truly been the focal point in the industry for a number of years.
The combination of the health and fitness industry booming and a lot of the population wanting to lose weight is the perfect storm for misinformation and the potential for mistakes. A simple google search for ‘how to lose weight’ comes up with over 800 million results.
There are no doubts that there will be a lot of conflicting information among them. With this in mind, it is no surprise that people are making mistakes with their weight loss goals.
So what are the most common mistakes made when trying to lose weight?
Health Mistake #1. Solely focusing on the overall number on the scales
95% of the time people are focused on one single number, their overall weight.
This is the most accessible and easiest number to focus on. It is the number that the media focuses on and most people use as a comparison to others.
It is very important to understand that there is a lot that makes up overall weight and those numbers have a much bigger impact on health than the overall weight does.
Simply comparing Donald Trump’s 1.9m height and 110kg weight with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnsons 1.96m height and 117kg would imply that Donald is in better shape that The Rock as he is 7kg lighter. In fact it couldn’t be more opposite and it doesn’t take a scientist to figure it out.
Factors that need to be taken into account include:
- Muscle Mass
- Hydration %
- Body Fat %
- Bone Mass
Focusing solely on your total weight discounts everything that makes it up and can lead to misinformation, especially when partaking in a health program.
E.g. You eat and exercise perfectly for a month and your overall weight does not change. This can be very unmotivating. If you take a deeper look at what makes up that number (i.e. body composition scan) you could find that you lost body fat at the same ratio that you gained muscle. This would cause your overall weight to stay the same, but the make up of it would have changed completely.
Do regular body composition scans so you can ensure that you are making improvements in all the different aspects of your body weight, only using your overall weight as a rough guide.
Health Mistake #2. “Low Fat” or “Diet” Food
Big business is smart.
They know that much of the population is looking to lose weight and as a result are marketing towards them. The words “low fat”, “diet” and “fat free” are everywhere and it is greatly impacting peoples ability to make informed nutritional choices by preying on their desired goal instead of providing a healthy option.
A lot of these foods are highly processed and full of preservatives and sugar to improve their taste.
Do we really think that a ‘90% fat free strawberry cheesecake’ flavoured protein bar that has an expiry 4 years in the future is going to be the best nutritional option for your weight loss?
Hint: low fat = high sugar
Sticking to real food is always going to be the best option when it comes to weight loss. Stay clear from these attention grabbing options and instead stick to well-balanced, fresh and minimally processed foods. If it has an expiry date, you know that it has had some work done to it. Fresh fruit, vegetables and protein do not have expiry dates…because they are FRESH!
Health Mistake #3. Not recording or understanding what you are eating
Simply put, weight loss comes down to consuming less energy than you are eating.
How are we supposed to know how much energy we are consuming on a daily basis if we are not;
- Educated in the nutritional value of the foods that we are eating
- Recording the food we are eating so that we can calculate total energy consumed
Please do not think this means we are saying that you need to record everything consumed for the rest of your life as this is not the case.
Record your food and drink for a week. Everything that you consume.
Educate yourself on the nutritional labels of everything you buy. Pretend that you are studying for an exam and learn everything you can about all of it. Equip yourself with the knowledge required to have a basic understanding of the impact of what you are eating vs your overall goal.
This can be an incredibly insightful exercise and it allows you to plan and adapt your daily intake to fall in line with your overall goal and adjust accordingly.
Repeat this exercise once a month for the first 6 months and see how you go. You will be surprised at your level of success and the improvements in the knowledge that you have gained.
Do not let the “I don’t know about nutrition” excuse get in the way of your goals.
Health Mistake #4. Not lifting weights
Performing weekly resistance exercise is crucial for weight loss, but the general population seems to think that time spent on the cross trainer and treadmill will get them the results they are after.
The rate in which you can burn fat is heavily dictated by the speed of your metabolism. The faster your metabolism is, the higher the potential fat burn you will have.
The biggest impactor on metabolism? Your muscle mass.
The best way to ensure your muscle mass is working as effectively as possible? Resistance training.
There is a big misconception that lifting weights will lead to getting ‘bulky’ and as a result people do not lift.
Let us be very clear, lifting weights 1-2 times p/week combined with a weight loss nutritional plan WILL NOT MAKE YOU BULKY. In order to put on large amounts of muscle mass, you must be lifting weights almost daily AND be consuming massive amounts of calories.
What will 1-2 weights training sessions p/week do?
- Ensure that the muscle mass you do have is as active as possible.
- Replace old muscle fibres with new and more effective tissue
- Improve the ‘toned’ look that so many are after
- Increase your metabolic rate
- Improve the chances of fast fat burn
Whilst cardio is incredibly important for overall fitness and weight loss, a resistance program built into your weekly exercise program will greatly benefit your chance at success.
This is a very confusing time, there is so much information out there about how to achieve weight loss success and it is perfectly understandable that mistakes will be made.
If you are unsure of the path to take and how to best get the results that you are looking for, ask a professional who has dedicated their life to health and fitness. Even a few months with a personal trainer can completely turn your life around and fill you with the knowledge required to achieve long-term weight loss and lifestyle change.
Surrounding yourself with the right network will ensure that any weight loss mistakes are minimised and the path to success is maximised. If you have that right network around you, then there is a much higher chance of ongoing success.
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