Many years ago I watched a DVD that totally changed my life. It was a group of women in tightly fitted swimsuits jumping ecstatically to the sound of music, it was fascinating to watch so I decided to participate from the comfort of my living room. It would be many years later that I realized it was the super awesome “Jane Fonda” that had led that class and I also discovered the name of the session was called “aerobics”.
Before that day I had never seen anything like it, It left me with a lot to think about but more remarkably it left me with an indelible mark that would see me become a fitness enthusiast many years later. It is pretty remarkable the power that an encounter can have on a person’s life, for me, this was a positive one and I am glad.
Over the years I have become one who exercises at least 4 times a week, and I have also become one who supports other people in attaining total wellness which maintaining a healthy weight is a key part of. Here are some mistakes I have encountered repeatedly and by sharing these I hope I can help someone to avoid them. Here’s a list of eight mistakes many people make when trying to lose weight.
1. They Opt for Diet/Quick Fixes: The first decision I made about my fitness journey was that I decided it would be a lifestyle as opposed to just “losing weight” momentarily, I learned quickly that the focus must be to adopt new habits rather than just a “30-day plan” mindset. Too many people don’t want to play the long game, they want to lose weight accumulated over several years in weeks or months and usually get discouraged when that doesn’t happen. There are natural laws we cannot ignore, and in weight loss, it will serve you to adopt the Long-term approach than a quick fix one. It’s important to accept that time will be a factor in your weight loss journey so you prepare yourself, focus on improving daily and slowly begin to practice the good habits that will eventually deliver on your desired weight. Next time you are tempted to jump on a program that promises transformation in a ridiculously small amount of time, let your antenna remain tuned to the frequency of a lifestyle so you can stop yourself from jumping on another bandwagon.
2. They try to change too many things at the same time: About six months after starting a Ketogenic diet my friend had started to lose interest and complained bitterly about her journey. I inquired the reason for this frustration because she had lost some weight and I imagined she should be happy with her results. Yes, she was happy but she was feeling the financial pinch of the diet requirements. In Nigeria, where I reside the cost implication was a little beyond her budget, due to the specifics of the diet. All of a sudden she finds herself needing to meal prep rigorously, shop in special stores, buy more expensive food items, still be a hands-on mum, be a great wife and also run her business. My point is that we mustn’t forget there are different aspects to our lives so losing weight cannot take center stage and throw everything else in jeopardy. So make it simple. Practice food swaps, opt for more nutritious foods, eat more colorful plates of food, increase your water intake, start walking 20mins a day, etc. when you attempt too many things at the same time you run the risk of being overwhelmed which isn’t helpful to your weight loss journey.
3. They drink little or no water: Many people underestimate the importance of water and would rather seek other alternatives to water instead. More smoothies, more tea, more sugary drinks and so on, but they forget that water is calorie-free and also boosts metabolism and these are critical ingredients to weight loss. I apply this principle in reverse, water has become my first choice drink and my alternative to all other drinks too. You need to drink up, don’t substitute, drink WATER. There’s ample research to support the significant role of water to both appetite reduction(when drunk before a meal) and long-term weight management.
4. They weigh themselves too often: I have a “no-scale” policy, and that’s because the numbers don’t count. I pay more attention to the regularity of my workouts, I focus more on practicing good weight loss habits, I use the fit of my clothes and the way I feel about my body. Yes, there’s a need to measure your progress but obsessing over the scale could lead to disappointments. When I started lifting weights I noticed a little spike in my numbers but quickly realized that muscle is more dense than fat and this could lead to an increase in scale weight even as I was slimming down. Imagine I was obsessing with the numbers?
5. They stick to a strict exercise routine: Over the last few years of being a fitness enthusiast, there were a few times I felt like my body stopped improving and usually after a closer look I realize that I had held on too tightly to a strict exercise routine which my body had become accustomed to, and whenever I included a more varied workout I notice an improvement again. Now, I apply the variety principle to my workouts and it’s proven to really be beneficial. I incorporate running, HIIT, Bootcamp style, and many others, and apart from experiencing the change I desired it was also very exciting to explore an array of exercises. I encourage that you spice things up also, to prevent hitting a plateau or really experiencing boredom. Since the aim of my “movement” is calorie burn and getting stronger then I embrace all the different types of exercise that will ultimately deliver the results.
6. They are waiting for the right time: There’s no better time than right now to improve on your body, the moment you feel too heavy for your own legs to carry or can barely walk a few minutes without totally being out of breath (without any other underlying cause), or your clothes are beginning to hug a bit more than you would like or that you are no longer happy when you look in the mirror then I think your weight loss journey should be underway. There really isn’t a right time, maintaining a healthy weight will affect other aspects of your life so TODAY is always a good day to start. Over the years when I discuss the importance of maintaining healthy body weight, I tell anyone who cares to listen that exercise is something you must make time for rather than wait for the right time, Yes I believe it’s that important.
7. They have no understanding of what works for their Body and Personality type: A common mistake I see people make is trying to be like someone else, we see all kinds of amazing bodies on social media, many times there’s a programme that promises a total transformation in a ridiculously short amount of time. But, as I devoted more time to understanding weight loss, I discovered food to be an essential part and working with a dietitian played a significant role for me. A dietitian is a trained professional and can help you through a personalized meal plan, eat better and teach you the best foods that work for your body type. Your personality matters also because what works for one with an impulsive personality might not be applicable to one with either an emotional personality or a reliable personality. My “Sanguine” friend struggled with routines, she preferred a more varied approach to weight loss, she wanted variety in her food, she also got bored with the same workout space or coach after a while. I recommended she hired a chef to prepare her variety of meals and also incorporate outdoor running to her workouts to “relieve” her from the gym or her coach a couple of times a week.
8. They are unwilling to make the necessary time and financial investment: I had to spend a little more on food because healthy options sometimes cost a little more than junk food, I had to meal prep which required that I dedicate some time to cooking healthy meals and ensuring I am prepared for a few days. I also had to visit the market frequently for my fruits, especially as I live in a country without 24 hrs electricity. I also joined a gym and paid for a personal trainer. Too many people aren’t willing to make these sacrifices, they aren’t willing to imbibe the kind of discipline that is required to lose weight. I have been a fitness buff for several years and I know that although it gets a little easier it will always require a high level of discipline to stay in shape.
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