Despite your good intentions about your weight loss goals, there may be certain habits that are holding you back – including those related to sleep and mental health – that you may not have considered. The Registered Dietitian addresses 12 things that may be holding you back from losing those last few pounds, and how to refocus on the important things.
1 Stealing breakfast.
Studies come and go about whether or not you must eat breakfast. However, registered dietitian Samantha Cassetti often notices clients who stagnate and eat too light a breakfast. In particular, people often “don’t eat enough protein at breakfast, which means they’re missing a critical opportunity to replenish the protein that was broken down overnight.” If you continue to skip protein at breakfast, “this can lead to a sluggish metabolism,” she says.
What’s more, eating a piece of fruit or a processed item like a packaged muffin won’t fill you up until lunch, which has a ripple effect on your functioning.” When my clients eat a more satisfying breakfast, they are more energized, less distracted by hunger, less irritable and more productive,” says Cassetti. Aim for 20-30 grams of protein by including options like farmhouse cheese or boiled eggs, she says.
2 Lack of magnesium
Weight loss isn’t just about diet and exercise, and you’ve probably heard about the importance of sleep for a healthy weight. Skimp on the zzz’s that skew your hunger hormones, and you may find you reach for a sugary snack as a relay race more often. Sure, it’s important to commit to doing the things that sleep experts preach (like stopping your social media scrolling before bed), but you may also not have considered how your magnesium levels play a role in your shut-eye.” Most people don’t get enough of the mineral, which can interfere with proper sleep,” says Carcetti. Consider adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet, such as almonds, tofu, and leafy greens.
3 Avoid “bad” foods
If you’re currently feeling guilty about that brownie you just ate, you can relax.” There is no one food that causes weight gain,” says Mary Jane Detroyer, RD. Often, believing that you “messed up” your diet will cause you to bounce back eating, scarfing down more food than you’re hungry for (or even want) because you’ll start your diet all over again tomorrow and be “good”. Letting go of this all or nothing mentality and focusing on an 80/20 strategy where you incorporate indulgences 20% of the time may lead to a more balanced, sustainable diet.
4 Exercise only to burn calories.
“Exercise makes you hungrier, so you may overcompensate by eating more when trying to lose weight,” explains Cassetti. She encourages exercising for health – not simply to burn calories or negate your food intake.” I tell my clients to have a fun exercise experience.” That means doing something you really enjoy, or something new and exciting. It could be going for a walk, taking up swimming or learning to golf.
5 Let your diet make you overwhelmed.
We often chalk weight loss up to a math problem, but your emotional health is another major factor.” If a person is really unhappy in their life, it’s hard to lose weight,” says RD Isabel Smith. If the diet is too rigid – perhaps leading you to avoid eating out with friends – it won’t be sustainable weight loss or encourage mental health.
Instead, an important factor in happiness and weight loss success is surrounding yourself with positive connections.” Supportive and feel-good relationships are key to our success and happiness. When someone has that, it helps improve their quality of life and it’s definitely something that’s linked to overall health,” she says.
6 not having enough to eat
The calories-in vs. calories-out equation may sound simple, but the body is smart enough to be designed to withstand famine. This means it will compensate for the restriction by pushing up hunger levels.” If you go on a regular food plan that doesn’t take into account your personal calorie needs or food likes or dislikes, it can’t go on forever,” says Detroyer. If you’re tired all the time or struggling to break through weight loss peaks, this could be a sign that you’re not eating enough. Talk to a professional who can help figure out the best plan for you, says Detroyer.
7 Not tracking your intake
“Making sure you’re eating in a slight calorie deficit is important for weight loss,” says Lisa Moskovitz, RD. While you don’t need to buckle down so much that you’re eating too little, you do need to cut back on the extra fluff. To find out what that might be, you should track your food, at least in the beginning.” It’s easy to forget what we ate before and make it harder to determine what’s stopping you from reaching your goal,” she says. Use these tips to make tracking your food a healthy habit.
8 Set unrealistic goals
While what you eat is important, it’s not the only part of the equation.” Other factors affect how our bodies use, burn and store calories or energy,” says Moskowitz. These factors include metabolism, age, genetics, stress and hormones, she says, “and can also play a role in being able to pass a certain point on the scale.” Meaning. Just because you choose a certain number doesn’t mean it’s a goal weight that could be attainable, comfortable or sustain you. While this may seem like a downer at first, it’s actually very freeing. A realistic goal that is achievable, makes you feel good, and is something you can sustain over time.
9 Cut down on food groups
Nowadays, it’s popular to talk about what you’re not eating: carbs, fruits, legumes, starchy vegetables, grains, dairy…. The list goes on and on. This also falls under the category of restriction.” The body thrives in balance and needs it to function at its peak,” says Moskowitz. When you take something away, you’re coming from a place of deprivation, which is often not a positive mindset. Also, your body is not happy.” Deprivation can negatively affect your metabolism or lead to intense cravings that may even lead to overeating later,” she says. This stands in the way of your weight loss. Research in the journal Obesity found that people who consistently overeat lost half as much weight as dieters who didn’t overeat. Instead of cutting out an entire food group, try practicing the 80/20 diet.
10 Watch Your Stress Levels
For many of us, coping with stress means reaching for comfort food while watching Netflix. While it’s perfectly fine to do this occasionally, it’s important to have healthy, non-food related outlets to reduce stress.” Stress can negatively impact metabolism and get in the way of reaching weight or fitness goals,” says Moskovitz. Helpful ways to reduce stress include taking a walk outdoors, reading a good book or calling a friend.
11 Look for answers in fad diets.
Fad diets always tell you that something big is in store, usually involving a long list of restrictions and foods you can’t eat. They’re all missing one big thing.” Fad diets usually don’t work on [establishing] a positive relationship with food,” says Moskovitz. Red flag, you’re looking at a fad. A diet that says it’s good for everyone, flaunts itself as a quick fix for quick weight loss, or presents a list of “good” and “bad” foods.” When you give yourself time to lose weight, that’s when you’ll find long-term results.”
12 Not Building in Novelty
“One reason jumping on a fad diet is so appealing is that it’s novel, which makes it exciting,” Moskovitz says. But as you grow accustomed to eating what the program allows, your interest will wane and you’re likely to give it up, she says. Regardless of the diet plan you’re on, maintaining a degree of novelty helps drive the motivation to get us to do this attitude. Moskowitz recommends doing things like trying new recipes and foods, so practicing healthy habits every day can actually be fun.