As women, we are under enormous pressure to look a certain way. I felt this through my teens and early 20’s and again even more so after giving birth to my son. Airbrushed celebrity images and societal expectations result in women taking drastic measures to lose weight. Here are some of the common mistakes women make that can actually damage their health and lead to more weight gain.
Eating everything ‘bad’ in the house before starting Monday…..then not starting Monday!
We’ve all been guilty of this one…. The “I’ll start Monday” diet mentality literally leads to pounds of weight gain over the course of a weekend. It’s as if we think “oh these calories don’t matter because I’ll lose this weight and more anyway”. Right? Wrong! How many of us then go on to start a new diet or clean eating lifestyle on the Monday, only to give up a couple of days later? You literally overloaded your body with sugar and carbs, increasing a whole host of hormones in your body that make you crave more sugar and carbs- the very foods you are trying to avoid. This mentality is setting yourself up for failure because it makes it harder to sustain the lifestyle change you are trying to make. If you are thinking of starting a new nutrition plan, try starting on a Saturday or Sunday to break the cycle of binging all weekend beforehand.
Not eating enough food
I’ve heard it so many times. Women trying to lose weight who say ‘I don’t eat much’. They are not eating all day and only eating an evening meal. Or, in fact they are picking at things like biscuits and chocolate through the day then only having one substantial nutritious meal a day. And they are puzzled as to why they can’t lose weight? If you are only eating one meal a day, your body goes into starvation mode. It isn’t getting regular meals and so will preserve whatever fat it has by lowering your metabolism so that your body does not burn calories. If you think back to the caveman days, not eating regularly was a trigger to the body that there was a shortage of food. The normal response of the body is to store whatever fat it has and cling on to any calories it does get. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. I myself know that being hungry is a trigger for binge-eating, which is why I aim to eat 5-6 small meals per day.
Only using the scales to measure your success
The scales is only one measure of weight loss. It does not give a complete picture. When you start exercising and eating better, you become more toned and build lean muscle. This makes you look smaller overall, but as muscle is denser than fat, you can still weight the same on the scales (or even appear to ave gained scale weight!). women place so much value on scales that it often derails us when we see a number we don’t like. I’ve known women to look and feel amazing, get compliments from everyone they know and yet they step on a scales, don’t like what they see then go and pig out or give up on their new lifestyle completely. It is a good idea to track your weight loss in other ways- take fortnightly progress photos, measure yourself weekly and taken notice of if your clothes are getting looser or old favourites start to fit you again.
Having one treat and it spiralling into a whole day or weekend of treats
Those biscuits in the office are calling you. You’ve been doing so well to avoid sugar but you think, “What the hell, I will just have one’. One turns into two, and before you know it the whole packet is gone. Damn it! You think to yourself, “Oh well, I’ve failed anyway so I may as well eat what I want now.” Whenever you eat sugar or carbs, it creates a hormonal response in your body that leads to you craving more. If your willpower is low or you self-defeating thought processes around food, this will lead to a lot more processed and sugary foods and before you know it you feel like crap and you are back to square one. Know yourself- if you know one treat will set you off on a self-sabotage spiral, have the willpower to leave it there. One tip I found useful was keep a treat until the end of the day- buy or make your own low sugar alternatives. This keeps you on track all day and reduces likelihood that you will binge all day or all weekend. Mindset is also important. Try to recognise and stop self-defeating or negative thoughts and turn them around
Doing hours of cardio
Many women make the mistake of thinking they have to do hours and hours of cardio or long distance running to lose weight. This can actually be counter-productive to weight loss and can cause your body to break down muscle instead of fat. Exercise creates a stress-hormone response in the body. If you place your body under long periods of exercise-induced stress (especially when there are other stress impacts in your life), the body creates cortisol. Increased cortisol stops your body from burning fat. The best exercise for fat loss is High Intensity Interval Training, where you exercise in short intense bursts alternated with rest periods for a total of 15-20 minutes. Once you’ve mastered this you can introduce some light weights into your routine for lean muscle building and increased fat burning potential. The more lean muscle you have, the more fat you burn even when just sitting on the sofa watching TV. Result!
Eating too much fruit
Fruit is essentially a carb, and carbs are broken down into sugar. Lots of women make the mistake of having fruit smoothies or lots of fruit for snacks when they are trying to lose weight. This results in the same hormonal triggers that lead to storing the carbs as fat. I am not saying fruit is bada, I am just saying reduce it if your goal is weight loss. Try to keep fruit to a minimum, post workout or stick to lower carb fruits such as berries.
I hope you have found this useful and perhaps it has inspired you to make a few changes if you recognise any of these signs in yourself.
Love Natasha x
**For more fat and weight loss tips you can download my free ebook HERE!**