We all have the urge to look astonishing, fit, and healthy. We tend to feel this way mainly because of two reasons. First and foremost, to boost our self-esteem and second – to increase the chance of being liked by others. Although our appearance is just a small portion of what we can offer, it surely is quite a significant one. Nothing makes the initial contact with our potential partners better than our looks. Be fair – A person does not look favorably on someone who looks potentially sick or unhealthy. He/she might be the most extraordinary person in the world, but if he/she does not appeal to us physically, we probably will not be able to find this out. It might appear shallow and stupid, but this is the harsh truth. That is why most of us try to make everything in our power to look attractive.
Beauty is a concept of the mind. Some people may find giant muscles attractive, while others may favor the skinny type. Some even seek fluffy partners. Every person has his understanding of beauty, but looking unhealthy, obese, or anorexic certainly does not fit any category. Your goal should not be to look like Aphrodite or Adonis, but rather to look normal – with an average size person, a relatively small amount of extra fat, and average muscle mass.
Once we let ourselves go, it’s tough to get back to our standard size. To achieve this, we tend to put ourselves through some exhausting diets – Paleo, Zone, No Carb, No Fat, High Fat, High Protein, Low Carb, Keto, Atkins, IIFYM, or a dozen more like these. Some people, who tried them, may have found the result they were searching for, but in most cases, at the end of the diet, they are either right where they started, or even worst – gained some extra weight.
So, where is the problem? Why hasn’t everybody lost those dreadful fats for good, after trying all those diets? After all, the idea of a diet is simple – eat fewer calories than you burn. Well, as a matter of fact, it is not that simple. There are five common mistakes many people do when trying to lose weight. Avoid them, and you will have the result you are aiming towards and even better.
Obligation to finish your plate
Is there a piece of meat left on your plate after you finished eating? Let’s face it. You are not going to leave it there. This is not a fault of your own. It’s just how the human brain functions. From the dawn of humanity, we genetically inherited the obligation not to waste food. We simply must eat everything on our plate. Even as children, we were taught to eat all our food, regardless of whether we were full or not. After all, someone worked hard to put food in front of you. Throwing it to waste is just like throwing away money. So no matter how full you are, you are still going to eat this small piece of food left on your plate, regardless if it’s a tomato, a chicken wing, or a pizza slice.
Of course, this means that you won’t be able to get to your perfect weight any time soon. So if you want to change this habit, there are two simple solutions. First – try to go against your nature and throw away the rest of the food. And Second, the less wasteful option, buy smaller plates. I know it sounds a bit silly, but there has been a lot of researches that conclusively prove the theory that eating from a smaller plate doesn’t affect your satisfaction or fullness, even though you eat less food.
A study on this matter was published in “The Behavioral Science of Eating,” Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. Deakin University wrote a very comprehensible summary, which you can find here.
Expecting quick results
Have you heard that commercial where they promise you will lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks? Or the one about losing 20 pounds in 21 days? Sounds fantastic, right? WRONG! Those results genuinely are possible, but with them, you not only risk your health, but you are destroying your metabolism. The moment you stop this exhausting and hunger-driven diet, you will gain your weight back, and you will put some more lbs on top of it. It’s called the YoYo Effect.
The only way to make a quick weight loss is by restricting your body from gaining nutrients, essential for your existence. Even so, you won’t lose weight by burning fat, but by losing muscle mass. When your body does not get the needed amount of nutrients required for the organism to function, your body goes to survival mode and starts to save fat molecules. At this point fat-burning almost impossible.
Losing weight must be done with a lot of eating of limited products so that your body will feel full, and at the same time, it won’t accumulate additional fat. The best you can do is to lose 2 pounds per week. This way, in only two weeks, the change will be extremely noticeable, since you would have lost fat, not muscle, and the fat volume is much higher than the muscles.
There have been several studies confirming the so-called yo-yo effect, which was coined by Kelly D. Brownell at Yale University. One review can be found here.
Underestimate how much you eat
This is the most common mistake a person trying to get in shape does. Everyone underestimates how much calories he/she takes in every day. It’s not your fault, don’t worry. We are just hardwired to do it. Scientist believe that almost every person, when asked how much he had eaten, gives an estimate of around half the correct amount. So if you think you’ve eaten only 1000 calories today, they most probably are near 2000.
Your first step towards a great body is to force yourself to stop doing this. Yes, counting calories is very dull, so the best way is to make a table with your favorite foods and find out how much each of them is worth calorie-wise. If you prefer, there are online apps that will calculate your calories for the day. Granted, this may not be as exact as counting them, but it’s much better than you guessing how much you ate.
Scientific studies confirm a massive amount of cognitive biases. A complete list can be found here. Research has shown that underestimating and overestimating ourselves are two of the most widespread. The best advice for countering your biases is checking the facts and counting.
Change everything at once
If you ever followed a diet, you know that many things must change for this endeavor to be successful. Usually, this is the most challenging part of the process. Many people fail right at this moment. Weight loss needs you to change a lot of your habits, such as drinking water, social life, eating habits and sometimes even hobbies. You must start eating smaller portions, which is also a habit, and add some exercises, which consumes time. Doing all those changes in a day is very difficult and almost impossible. Therefore what you should do is start slowly one by one.
Firstly start with changing your eating habits. Stop the junk food and start eating healthy. The next day start increasing your water. In a week, introduce some exercises and slowly but steadily make them into a whole working session. Step by step, you will manage to make your life much better.
An excellent study supporting this is done by the Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, at University College London. You can read it here.
Exercises are one of the keys to good health and staying fit, no matter what you eat. They are especially useful when you are trying to lose weight because they boost your diet results. After all, you burn calories, and the more calories you burn, the faster the fat will disappear.
The most common exercises people get into while being on a diet is the cardio. Cardio is short for cardiovascular activities. This group of work-outs is promoted for a healthy heart, and they do precisely this. A common misconception is that they are the most effective way to lose weight. This is not true. Though cardio truly helps you reduce your body fat, it’s far from being the best way to do it.
It takes an hour of running to burn 300-400. But who has an hour a day to run? Not to mention the fact that it’s not always possible to go outside and running on a treadmill is so tedious. The fact of the matter is that those kinds of training take too long to be effective, and they are not worth your time.
A better way to improve your results via exercises is with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It not only burns more calories than cardio, but it also does it in half of the time. As a bonus, it promotes muscle growth as well. One important thing about weight loss that everyone should know is that the more muscles you have, the faster you will burn fat. The idea behind HIIT is that you mix high-intensity exercises like sprinting, with low-intensity ones like walking. You rush yourself for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds. After that, repeat again and again for about 5-20 minutes. These exercises will also exhaust your body, so they can be done up to 3 times a week, which means that you will need only an hour a week instead of an hour a day.
If you’re interested in more than a summary, check out the study done by the US National Institutes of Health. You can find it here.