If you’ve gotten to a point on your weight-loss journey where the scale simply won’t budge, check out these common bad habits and ask yourself if any of them might be standing between you and your weight-loss goal.
You don’t get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep is a huge stressor on the body and puts you at risk for weight gain, as well as a host of other obesity-related diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and depression. Studies show that when you don’t get enough sleep, it affects the body’s production of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate your metabolism and hunger. If you’re not getting at least eight hours of quality sleep at night, try hitting the sack earlier. It may help to schedule a bedtime alarm to alert you when it’s time to shut down the computer, turn off the TV and smartphone, and get ready for bed.
You eat your meals in front of a TV or computer screen.
For many Americans, mealtime has become a haphazard experience, where cell phones, TVs, MP3 players, computers, tablets, and other gadgets often get in the way of enjoying a meal and spending quality time with family. You might be surprised to learn that taking the time to enjoy your meals without these types of distractions can actually help support your weight-loss efforts, since it curbs the tendency to engage in mindless eating. When you enjoy a meal at your kitchen or dining table and savor every bite, you’ll feel more satisfied and you’ll be less likely to overeat. Stick with your healthy eating plan and start scheduling a distraction-free mealtime routine for you and your family.
You dine out regularly.
Sure, it’s easier to grab a salad from the deli across the street than to prepare one for yourself, but are you aware of all the ingredients going into that takeout salad or into the other meals you don’t eat at home? Dining out and ordering in may be convenient, especially if you have a busy schedule, but if you’re not careful, it can be a recipe for weight gain. When people don’t eat at home, they tend to consume on average 500 more calories per meal than they would if they ate a similar meal at home. When you’re not in control of how your meals are prepared, you’re not only likely to take in more calories but also more bad fats and bad carbs. Make it a habit to cook more of your own meals.
You rarely get any exercise.
Exercise is a sure-fire way to rev up your metabolism and lose weight faster, so if you’re a couch potato and not working out regularly, you’re missing out on major calorie-burning — not to mention health — benefits. And, you don’t need a gym membership to become more active. Interval exercise, in which you alternate between short bursts of intense exercise with easier recovery periods, can be done outdoors or in. You can interval walk or bike around your neighborhood, and if the weather doesn’t permit, climb your stairs or jump rope in your living room in intervals. As a core-strengthening workout, yoga and Pilates are good choices, or you can purchase fitness DVDs, an exercise mat, and a pair of free weights to use at home.
You’re not organized.
Is your pantry stocked with so many unhealthy snacks that it’s difficult to find a healthy one? Would you risk having an avalanche if you were to move some of the take-out containers in your fridge to store fresh veggies and fruits? Is your dining table the dumping ground for your family’s extra stuff? Believe it or not, being disorganized can affect your weight loss. Unhealthy foods blocking the way to healthy ones can quickly derail your diet. Other kinds of clutter can also keep you from enjoying distraction-free family meals, a good night’s sleep, or carving out the space you need to do your exercise routine. Schedule a monthly clean-up to remove any unhealthy foods that may have sneaked into your kitchen and make an effort to stay on top of any clutter accumulating in your dining area, living room, bedroom, and basement, too!
You reward yourself with unhealthy food.
Do you typically celebrate your successes with a slice of cake, a box of chocolates, or a bowl of ice cream? Occasionally indulging in a few bites of something decadent just for pure pleasure is acceptable, but regularly rewarding yourself with unhealthy food can really hamper your weight loss. We never encourage you to use food as a reward because it can become an automatic, mindless response. Instead, we encourage you to celebrate by doing something that supports your weight loss and health goals, like taking a fun class at the gym, getting a massage, or buying a new pair of sneakers, a heart-rate monitor or blood pressure cuff, or a set of good knives or grilling tools. Oh, and forget about buying that unhealthy food in the first place!