When you think about weight loss habits, many think about diets, resistance training, and cardio. However, there are four weight loss habits many don’t think about that could be slowing your results. Let’s take a deep dive into these four items so that you can speed up your progress and achieve your goals faster.
1. Lack of Sleep
The first of our weight loss habits you need to consider is how much sleep you’re getting. Lack of sleep is actually quite detrimental to your weight loss in many ways. And if this is you, you’re not alone. Many people are not getting enough sleep. If you aren’t getting the recommended seven hours (minimum) of sleep each night, you could find yourself spinning your wheels and not understanding why your weight loss has stalled out.
When it comes to sleep, not getting enough can cause you to be lethargic the next day. This zaps your energy levels and won’t allow you to hit it hard in the gym. Additionally, lack of sleep affects your hormone levels. Cortisol being one (a stress hormone), and the second being leptin levels.
As your body becomes stressed due to lack of sleep, it can increase cortisol levels. Cortisol can cause your weight loss results to start pumping the brakes and can make your body to not only stop burning fat but also cause it to store even more. Then you have leptin which tells your body you’re not hungry and helps you feel satiated. When leptin levels are low, and ghrelin is high (a hunger hormone), it can cause you to overeat – ultimately doing the inverse of what you’d like to happen in order to lose weight and body fat.
2. Focusing on What You CAN’T Eat
Another of the weight loss habits that can hurt your results is focusing on what you can’t eat when in a caloric deficit. Far too many times, I see people with cravings that completely consume them. I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Man, I’d kill for a (fill in the blank) right now.” They can’t stop thinking about that specific food, and it causes them to hate what they are doing and the process rather than think about all of the food they CAN have.
A simple strategy to combat this would be to find a healthier food choice with the same effect (such as if you want something fatty or sugary) that would subside their craving. For instance, if you are craving a piece of candy, have a piece of fruit instead. The sugar from the fruit will push you past the craving. If you are craving a greasy hamburger from your favorite restaurant, you could eat a lean cut of steak, and the minimal fat on the steak will help get you past the craving. Maybe it’s a soda you are craving? Grab something diet or go with an unsweetened tea and mix in a little bit of stevia.
There are endless ways to get past any craving you may be feeling at a given moment. The key is to think about the healthier options that would give you that sweet, salty, or whatever craving you are feeling. What you don't want to happen is to give in to your cravings every time you have one.
3. Setting Unrealistic Goals
Nothing sets you up to fail more than starting off with a goal that simply is not realistic. This is one of the weight loss habits where you can fail before you even get started. Many hear of these crazy-fast weight loss success stories and think it’s possible for you to achieve the same results. Most of those “success stories” are simply water weight being lost rather than actual body fat.
If you set a weight loss goal of 50 pounds in one month, you’re going to struggle to achieve that in a healthy fashion, and when you don’t hit your number, it can be frustrating. You should be looking to lose anywhere from 1-2 pounds per week. Don’t be surprised if you lose weight quickly in the early stages of any diet. As mentioned earlier, much of that is going to be water weight. Things will start to stabilize, and you’ll notice steady weight loss from that point forward, assuming you have your nutrition and fitness on point.
The bottom line is to make sure you are setting yourself up for success with a realistic goal. Make sure it’s something measurable a well. Don’t say your goal is to lose weight. Use something like you want to lose five pounds each month as an example.
4. Trying to Do Too Much, Too Quickly
This is one of the most common weight loss habits I see in many individuals. It’s the “if a little is good, then a lot is better” mentality. However, jumping in with both feet before dipping your toe in first can lead to failure. Essentially, you can become overwhelmed or simply exhausted from the process.
When you remove all the bad things from your diet all at once, start exercising five times a week, and try to completely change your lifestyle overnight, you're doomed to fail. Sure, there are cases where people go that route and find success, but it's definitely not the norm. Make little changes over time.
First, you may start off by exercising a few days a week and progress to more. Maybe you start by eliminating soda from your diet and switch over to tea or even water? Then you introduce more vegetables into your diet and remove some of the processed foods or starches. Little by little, all of those changes will equate to massive changes in your weight and physique.
As long as you stick with it, these changes will take poor weight loss habits and create new healthier, and lifelong ones.