Common Mistakes That Trip You Up in Achieving Your Healthy Weight
by Erin Risius, LPC, Program Director at Green Mountain at Fox Run
For those striving to create a healthier lifestyle, the primary measurement of success often comes down to number of pounds lost. If weight loss isn’t occurring fast enough, that’s when programs tend to get abandoned. Think New Year’s Resolutions.
However, there are two types of weight loss—healthy and unhealthy—and healthy weight loss is something that occurs as a side effect of living healthfully. That’s why it’s sustainable, but it also means it takes time. It’s more of a “slow and steady” pace that requires patience and commitment to the process around being different. Different with movement, eating behavior, and just as importantly—different around how you measure success along the way. The number on the scale may be one piece of the puzzle, but we encourage you to look beyond that. Try evaluating your approach to make sure you aren’t making one of these common mistakes:
- You’ve got an imbalance between strength and cardiovascular training. Both strength and cardiovascular training are equally important for achieving a healthy weight, but neglecting one for the other (usually based on preference) is a common no-no. Strength training is necessary for building muscle and the more muscle one has, the healthier your metabolism is. Cardiovascular training is just as important for overall health and stress management. Optimally a person strength trains 2 – 3 x /week and gets cardio in (such as walking) 5x/week for at least an hour. However, build up incrementally to this recommended level and work with, not against, your body’s current ability and conditions.
- You’re skipping meals or restricting calories throughout the day. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is about fostering a healthy metabolism. If you’re restricting calories or stuck in an all-or-nothing pattern with food (restriction during the day followed by overeating at night), then your metabolism takes a hit. An example of this is for those who are on a low- or zero-carbohydrate diet. Our bodies need carbohydrates to fuel activity and metabolism, so if this is in short supply, the body learns to hold on to weight, not release it. So make sure you’re getting enough balanced meals and snacks (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) throughout the day to help set yourself up for success.
- You’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts every major system in the body, so quality sleep is essential for optimal health and weight management. Lack of sleep also elicits a chronic stress response in the body, which interferes with healthy weights. Chronic stress elevates the release of stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol to a level that our bodies are not equipped to manage causing weight gain. Most of us need 7-8 hours of sleep a night for optimal health. If this isn’t happening, start here first.
- You’re stressing and obsessing about body weight and food. When there is a sense of urgency around losing weight, this desperation can create an obsession around body image and food that lends itself to chronic stress. If you define success solely by the number on the scale, psychologically, this may enhance obsession and worry within the process of change. Be sure to acknowledge the other indicators of success, such as increased strength, endurance, energy, and mood. When we focus on the broader vision of self-care—you can reach your healthy weight naturally, as a result of living well. So trouble shoot any potential missteps you may be taking, but also evaluate your expectations around the process of change.