Welcome to part 7 of 101 weight loss mistakes. Avoid these like the plague or risk hampering your weight loss plan. The links to the rest of the series are at the end.
61. Not eating enough calories
Low calorie diet’s are never a good idea because they starve your body of essential nutrients. That’s why many a crash/fad diet tell you to take a daily multivitamin supplement. Now what kind of healthy diet asks for supplements!? None.
Not consuming enough calories may sound good when you initially come across the idea. Doesn’t burning fat require you to eat less calories than you use? This is in a nutshell true, but it’s not as simple as that.
Once you severely limit the amount of calories you consume you also lower your metabolism, which lowers the rate at which you use energy. This happens because you body is trying to conserve as much as possible due to the shortage of nutritional input. I’m sure that you’ve experienced feeling cold when you’re also very hungry before, I know I have.
In fact I when I went to bed last night it was 7 hours since I last ate anything, I felt really cold and found it hard to warm up even under the covers. I went downstairs had a few hazelnuts and some tuna, within 15 minutes my metabolism had increased and I was warming up well. I sleep well last night!
Don’t starve your body, follow a healthy diet plan which shouldn’t be telling you to eat too low an amount of calories (typically less than 1500 per day).
62. Not looking after your brain
Your brain is an amazing organ which controls every aspect of your body and thus your life. It’s what you use to experience the world good or bad. Here are some fascinating facts about your brain:
- It is around 2% of your total body weight (if your a person with healthy a BMI)
- 25% of your basic metabolism is brain activity – i.e. 25% of your energy expenditure at rest is used by your brain! The organ that’s only 2% of your mass uses 25% of your energy!
- 20% of your blood volume is required to keep the brain operating optimally
- The brain is 80% water – the body as a whole is 70% water
- You brain controls everything you experience and do
It’s been shown from numerous brain scans that there’s correlation between weight problems and brain damage. Don’t confuse the term brain damage to mean falling down the stairs onto your head, that’s considered severe brain trauma. Brain damage is anything which hurts your brains, this can range from knocking your head on a door frame to taking drugs.
Your brain controls, among other things, your behavior, compulsions and self control. These are all the factors which affect your weight, and are the underlying mechanisms which make you binge eat, crave unhealthy foods and not be able to stop yourself.
Look after your brain by preventing it from suffering injuries, keeping it hydrated, and fed. I keep on talking about drinking water regularly and at least 2 liters a day (more if your sweating a lot), it hydrates your brain which should be 80% water to function properly. Don’t eat a low calorie diet, you’ll only be starving your brain which helps you persevere and function clearly. Always wear a helmet when you go cycling, snowboarding or any other sports where there’s a chance you might hurt your head.
63. Not measuring heart rate properly
There’s a thing called the fat burning zone (FBZ) that’s often talked about in fitness and exercise. The FBZ is a level of heart rate which is also aerobic exercise or cardio, and it’s achieved at around 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. In this zone your heart and breathing can provide enough oxygen to sustain your activity, meaning you can maintain it for long periods of time (once you are fit enough) and during this process stored fat is used as the energy source.
So you see the problem with not measuring your heart rate properly – you miss the zone. Get yourself a heart rate monitor which read you pulse constantly, the most accurate are watches which come with a chest band. Here are good ones you can check out after reading the rest of this.
Your maximum heart rate is approximately 220 minus your age (beats per minute). So if you are 30 years old then your maximum heart rate should be around 190 beats per minute (BPM); to get into the FBZ you should maintain a BPM of around 133 to 152.
If you’re just starting out you’ll get to the FBZ at a much lower heart rate, but this will increase along with your fitness.
Here are some great cardio activities:
- Running – easiest and cheapest form of exercise but requires good stance to avoid sprains.
- Cycling – steady form of motion that’s easy on the joints (but on so on the groin).
- Swimming – a full body exercise which is great and easy on the joints. A highly recommended activity.
Please read Top 5 Cardio Workouts for Burning Fat for some great tips.
64. Drinking too much caffeine
Caffeine has a number of effects on your body and I’ve mentioned a few before, but I think it deserves a number of its own.
Coffee, tea, chocolate, many many soft drinks, and a whole host of plants contain caffeine naturally or added. Caffeine is a stimulant which slightly increases your metabolism, makes you more alert and temporarily alleviates drowsiness. Sounds good doesn’t it? There are some other negative effects too.
- Caffeine a diuretic which makes you reabsorb less water in your kidneys (i.e. it makes you pee more) – drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks will make you dehydrated which is not good for weight loss or healthy function in general.
- Raises your resting heart rate which in the long run (taking caffeine to frequently) puts a strain on your heart.
- Can disrupt sleep because it is a stimulant.
- You can become dependent on caffeine (many people need to drink an espresso each morning just to get going) – withdrawal symptoms include headaches, drowsiness, insomnia, irritability and lacking concentration.
There are however other very positive effects of frequently having caffeine in your system and include reducing the risk of a number of cancers and mental diseases. So there are good and bad, what should you do now?
Drink caffeinated drink modestly, don’t become dependent on them. Only take in natural sources of caffeine like chocolate, coffee and tea and avoid all food and drink products with added caffeine.
Green tea releases less caffeine than black tea and a lot less than your espresso, so opt for green tea if you can. Green tea also has other benefits such as high antioxidant content, which is good for battling cell damage from free radicals.
65. Watching too much TV
Studies have shown that there is a link between the amount of TV watched and your weight, this is likely to be caused by a number of factors. Firstly watching TV means you’re not being active this is a direct cause of storing more fat. Secondly, watching TV a lot lowers your attention span and makes you more compulsive which is a factor in overeating, snacking and lack of self control.
I agree with these findings because from my experience when I watch TV for the whole I tend to want to eat unhealthy food (ice cream, pizza delivery), and not want to do any exercise. On days when I am active I feel better about myself and actually don’t want to eat unhealthily, I consciously want to eat things that are good for me.
66. Not planning out your day
This is the threshold between you maintaining your weight loss program and you frequently failing to follow it.
Failing to plan you day is almost as bad as just giving up, because it means you have no healthy meals in place, no allotted time for exercise, and in the end you will just feel plain bad about it.
Planning is even more important when your time is tight, you have a demanding job or too many chores to do. Simple things like what to eat for lunch and when to eat it become a weakness in you weight loss campaign.
Going to the nearly fast food joint when you’ve forgotten (or ran our of time) to prepare a suitable meal is the worse thing that can happen. You end up eating more and of the wrong things.
Not setting yourself an allotted time to workout will more than often lead to them not happening at all.
So start planning your day, schedule in some exercise, prepare healthy meals for yourself (especially important if you don’t eat at home for lunch) and keep to it.
67. Eating out for convenience or lack of time
This is follow on from the previous mistake. Eating meals which are not the ones you’re supposed to be eating is not conducive to losing weight. A diet plan is there for a reason, and in this case the reason is because you wanted to lose weight.
By eating at the nearest place of convenience because you couldn’t be bothered to prepare beforehand is sabotaging the whole effort.
68. Using illegal drugs
Drugs addictive because they make you feel a certain way you wouldn’t experience under normal circumstances. It’s been shown that drug abusers are often those with mild to severe brain injuries, so the hypothesis is that brain injuries make you crave certain things – and drugs happen to be available.
Drugs can change your brain chemistry permanently, so there’s no going back. A lot of drugs make you lose inhibitions and reduce your self control or make things appear in the wrong context. This can lead to you overeating the wrong things and drinking the wrong things, which is bad for weight loss. The impact on weight loss is the minor issue in this case, as drugs are addictive and can kill you quickly.
Don’t be tempted by drugs, it’s recipe for a short and troubled life.
69. Fear of failure
Fear is something not many of us want to admit to, but if you think about it it’s the root of all negative emotions. Negative emotions are there to protect us from things which are potential harmful and a risk to our survival. But in the modern day survival has become a very small issue, and communities have grown to become huge, the signals that cause fear are everywhere and a lot of them are redundant.
Fear of failure is a more abstract concept because logically trying something out isn’t going to harm your life (unless you know it’s potentially harmful) so why does the fear stop us? It’s possibly more of social thing, a show of failure will likely discredit us in the community which will mean less chance of reproduction and social standing.
Fear of failing to lose weight stop a lot of people from losing weight or even trying. What you need to do it realize that fear is all in the mind, it’s just another feeling and you need to recognize it and observe it.
The first step is to be mindful whenever you are experience a negative emotion, stop yourself and think why you are feeling it. The more you do this the more you’ll release yourself from negative emotions, and there will be a point where fear will almost not affect your actions. A good book to read is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle a source of clarity and self discovery in a world that’s becoming very complex (in our eyes).
By reading that book I found a new perspective and greater meaning to life, it’ll release you from almost everything allowing you to see things for what they are.
This applies completely to weight loss, so get over it!
70. Falling for “low fat” or “healthy” food products
A lot food products are marketed with a health related skew, and that’s because the focus on healthy diet has become significant following the obesity problem.
A lot of people actually fall into the trap of eating more of the “healthy” product thinking that they are doing themselves a load of good.
Watch out for packaging and marketing with say low fat or zero percent fat. They aren’t lying but they will most likely contain a load of sugar, which for weight loss is just possibly worse than fat. Sugary foods make you hungry very quickly, they are also the quickest to be digesting and converted to fat.
As a rule, watch out for all food products that have a healthy slant on it’s packaging. They either tend to be either full of sugar or are a “healthier” version of a still very unhealthy food product.
I hope you’ve learnt a bit more from those 10 pitfalls you should avoid. The plague is bad for you, but so is unhealthy living which is arguably worse because it’s self inflicted. So avoid the plague and avoid killing your weight loss efforts.
Links to the rest of the series: