So you have decided to become a more glorious, healthier you. Maybe the plan involves losing weight and/or becoming fitter and stronger. What a perfect gift to give yourself. However, even the best laid plans can come unstuck. Usually, it’s the sneaky things you least suspect that derail good intentions and set you on a slippery slope back to square one. Well, pshaw to that! Here is a list of 10 potential pitfalls to watch out for, along with a few no-fail contingency plans.
Bored to tears
1. Same old grilled chicken and salad for dinner everyday? Same old workout? Once boredom sets in, beware.
Solution Change it up. Instead of always walking the same neighbourhood path or running on the treadmill for 30 minutes four days a week, mix it up by adding strength training on alternate days, a Zumba or BodyPump class, or a swim.
As for meals, there’s no excuse to eat the same thing! We just googled ‘healthy chicken recipes’ and in 0.40 seconds, we had 56,500,000 suggestions. Not making that up. Inspire your tastebuds!
Not enough zzzs
2. This one’s a killer and not for the reasons you might think.
Yes, the longer you’re awake the more opportunity you have to make unwise food choices (hello bag of chips), but the real problem is that chronic insufficient sleep causes complex hormonal shifts that affect metabolism.
Solution Wind bedtime back by 20 minutes until you get between 7 and 8 hours of shuteye. Anything less than 6 could land you in trouble. Remember, your bed should be a haven for sleep and sex (and sometimes a good book and tea and toast in the morning!). Declare your bed an electronic-device-free zone; backlight from devices messes with the body’s melatonin production.
3. Your friend has lost more weight than you.
Your partner merely thinks about losing weight and drops 10kg overnight. Your sister can run further. The stranger in the gym looks more fabulous in her yoga pants.
Solution Repeat after us: ‘This is my race. I am running it my way. I will not measure my success against someone else’s achievements.’ Doing so can lead to demoralising, misplaced feelings of failure. In reality girlfriend, you are doing wonderful things for your health every time you make a positive choice.
I exercise, therefore I eat
4. Ah, the old ‘I’ve earned the right to pig out’ trap.
You burn 500 calories working out and ‘reward’ yourself with a burger and fries. Hmmm.
Solution Don’t get us wrong, the occasional splurge is OK, but if it’s an everyday habit it could also be problematic. If your weight loss has stalled even though you are exercising your heart out, take an honest inventory of what’s going into your mouth. Don’t look at physical activity as a green light to eat with foolish abandon.
The scales are wrong
5. The number on your scales hasn’t downshifted in forever, despite the fact you are ‘being good’.
Solution The scales could be broken or need new batteries. Try weighing yourself on a different set of scales. The chance that they are both malfunctioning is low (sorry!). If you weigh yourself every day, stop. We are prone to daily fluctuations based on many variables. A better gauge is how you feel and how your clothes fit. Refuse to let your hard work be thwarted by a number on a piece of equipment.
Not eating enough
6 This is in the ‘strange but true’ category.
While it seems counterintuitive, not consuming enough calories can cause your body to go into starvation/shutdown mode. Your diet or workout won’t be as effective as your body fights to conserve energy in anticipation of the impending famine.
Solution Eating enough of the right foods (lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fresh fruit and veg) helps boost your metabolism and provides energy that allows you to exercise and build lean muscle while burning fat. The less muscle mass you have, the fewer calories you burn. Eating enough also helps you feel full and focused so you are not constantly thinking of food and feeling foggy.
No fat/no carbs/no protein
7 What? You’ve cut out an entire food group?
Do we need to come over there and get all tough love on you? You may have heard it’s the thing to do. You have heard wrong.
Solution Everything in moderation. Our bodies are complex systems requiring nutrition from all the food groups to function properly. Also, depriving yourself is often a precursor to a crazy eating binge. All the food groups. All the time.
8 You are bone tired and can’t seem to get out of your own way.
If you have recently begun a fitness routine it might be because you are not giving your body enough time to recover between sessions.
Solution Doing too much too soon is a fast road to defeat. Slow down. Leave a day between strength training workouts to allow your muscles time to recuperate. Getting fitter and stronger takes time – don’t force it or you risk injury or burnout.
You can fool some of the people…
9. Everything counts including broken biscuits, fish fingers the kids didn’t finish, the extralarge glass of wine, and so on.
Though they seem insignificant, they can add up to hundreds of extra calories a day.
Solution Keep a food journal. Write down every morsel that passes your lips: the good, the bad and the ugly. Soon, you will see a pattern emerge that will help identify trouble spots and help you make changes. Download a food journal app, such as MyFitnessPal, from your smartphone’s app store to make recording easy and fun.
Wolves in sheep’s clothing
10 To the untrained eye, they appear supportive of your efforts.
Your partner, friends, workmates – they talk the talk but wait, what’s that cake/ bucket of fried chicken/box of choccies doing here? They mean well. Or do they?
Solution Repeat after us: ‘No thank you.’ The more you practise it, the easier it gets.