You may have the drive to drop that extra weight, but are you using the right methods?
Losing excess weight improves your health, increases your confidence and gives you more energy. But weight loss is always difficult. In fact, it is a challenge for most people. Everyone is different, and so we all respond to different combinations of food and workouts to attain the ideal body.
With so much information out there now in the fitness world, it is hard to determine what is good advice and what is not. You snack on fruit, count calories, follow a weight loss programme and get some form of exercise most days and still the needle doesn't budge. If you are struggling to lose weight, you may just be making very simple mistakes that are hurting you.
No strategy: People are always more optimistic about their weight loss goals than they are about other goals. When most begin a new diet plan, they're decided on what to eat and what not to. But they don't plan for what they will eat at work or when they are out. Also, people generally don't plan how they will overcome the roadblocks, like when a craving strikes. By being prepared for the challenges that come with losing weight, you'll be less likely to give up when you encounter those roadblocks.
Skipping meals: Many individuals decide to skip meals to lose weight. However, you will fail to lose weight if you do so. It is just next to impossible (not to mention dangerous) for a beginner to stick to such a lifestyle. Weight loss is about the intake and burning of calories. Go back to the basics by eating clean, eating in smaller portions more frequently. Spread the meals over the course of a day rather than just eating one or two large meals which are not good for the body. Several small meals during the day will raise your metabolism and help you burn more fat.
Eating 'diet' food: Millions eat low-fat food without knowing that their body converts and stores excess carbohydrates into fats. Often, when fat is removed from a product, it's replaced by sugar. So it's important to check the label for the sugar, fat, and calorie content of a certain product. Also, many diet products contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame which have been linked to memory loss, hair loss and other various diseases including cancer.
Not drinking enough water: Dehydration can be a serious problem, especially if you exercise in hot, humid environments. Water is great for your health -- it gives you energy, improves athletic performance and removes toxins and waste from your body. Water is all that you need to drink and you must drink at least eight glasses of it a day.
Less carbs: Kicking carbs out to increase weight loss efforts will only lead to trouble. Balance every meal with healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein for a more effective weight loss plan; otherwise, your body can be harmed by the absence of one or another necessary nutrient.
Don't drink calories: Alcohol is filled with calories and so are fruit juices and milkshakes. They are the best and fastest means of gaining weight. Avoid sweetened soft drinks and juices high in sugar to maintain weight loss. If you still desire the drink, make sure it is 100 percent juice, with no sugar added.
Eating more processed food: Most processed breads and cereals contain little fibre. Avoid artificial sweeteners, trans fats, MSG, refined grains and nitrates in processed meats at all costs. Eating as close to natural as possible is the best way to ensure that your body remains healthy. Whole grains, fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients and fibre. Eating them more often will help you feel fuller, lower cholesterol and keep your digestion on track.
Excessive weight watching: There are people who try to check their body weight every night. You don't need to do so. Checking your weight daily often creates unnecessary diet frustrations. It is suggested that you weigh yourself every one or two weeks.
If you have made these mistakes in the past, don't worry. It is vital to learn from them, so you'll achieve success next time. Be patient with yourself. Weight loss is a journey and it should become part of your life.
Photograph: Peggy Greb/Wikimedia Commons