You've increased your intake of fruits and veggies, foresworn high-fat foods, said “sayonara” to sweets, and added a three-mile brisk walk to your list of daily activities. Still, you’re seeing no results on the scale—or, worse, you’re actually gaining pounds. What gives? Are you the victim of a slow metabolism? More likely, your weight-loss efforts are being sabotaged in some sneaky ways. Keep an eye out for the following:
Weighing and measuring foods has become passé in recent years, but it’s important to do this for at least a week when you begin a healthy eating regimen in order to get an accurate sense of portion sizes. After all, even healthy foods can lead to weight gain if you eat them in oversized portions.
Take rice, for example. Brown rice may be healthier than white rice, but whatever its color, eating two cups of rice rather than the recommended serving size of one cup (prepared) will still add around 500 calories to your daily intake.
Death by a thousand strokes
Just because you aren’t filling up a plate or bowl with food doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t taking in a lot of extra calories. A sample here and a sip there may seem harmless, but do it often enough throughout the day, and those calories can really add up. Even your coffee creamer can make a difference (each two-tablespoon serving of half & half is worth 35 calories). Watch those incidental calories that can combine to equal extra pounds!
Falling for the fat-free fallacy
Many food manufacturers responded to the low-fat craze by offering low-fat versions of their products. Trouble is, “low-fat” does not necessarily equal “low-calorie.” Sugar is often added to low-fat foods so they still taste good to consumers. So, if you’ve been munching on low-fat cookies and chips or dousing your salad with low-fat dressings, thinking they’re better for you than the original products, you might be unwittingly packing on the pounds. Read those food labels carefully, or, better yet, choose snack foods that are naturally low in fat and calories, such as fruits and veggies.
Exercise and overindulge
It’s a common misconception that exercising regularly makes it acceptable to eat more because any extra calories taken in will just be burned off. This notion has arisen because we tend to overestimate how many calories exercising actually burns. For instance, if you jog for 30 minutes, you might burn somewhere in the vicinity of 330 calories. While that is certainly a good thing, consider the fact that eating just one hefty handful of peanut M&Ms or a twin pack of Twinkies will completely negate that half hour of effort by replacing most or all of the calories you’ve burned.
Too few Zs
We don’t tend to associate lack of sleep with weight gain, but there can be a connection between the two. When we’re hungry, we feel fatigued, and it’s easy for our brains to mistake fatigue from lack of sleep for a symptom of hunger. So, we try to perk ourselves up by reaching for snacks. Plus, if we’re overly tired all the time, we’re more inclined to turn to convenience foods rather than plan and prepare healthy meals. Of course, being sleep deprived also means having no energy to get off the couch and exercise.
Drinking on the pounds
Perhaps the sneakiest form of weight-loss sabotage can be found in the beverages we drink, and sweetened sodas are among the biggest offenders. Think drinking soda doesn’t make that much difference? Consider the fact that a 12-ounce, non-diet can of soda contains about 150 calories. Multiply that by two or three cans a day, and you can expect to gain a pound per week. Supersize your soda at the drive through just once a day, and you’ll also pack on a pound in a week’s time.
What about beverages that are supposed to be good for you, like orange juice or grapefruit juice? Well, those can be loaded with calories, as well. An eight-ounce serving of fruit juice is worth about 100 calories. However, if we supersize our juice like we do our sodas (which, let’s face it, we often do when pouring our own at home), that calorie count can really start to climb.
Undermined by loved ones
In some cases, friends or family members can sabotage your weight-loss efforts by cooking irresistible but fattening meals, tempting you to eat seconds, or bringing home treats that tempt you to fall off the wagon. Usually, this form of sabotage isn’t intentional. Your friend or family member may just be trying to do something nice for you. Or, watching you enjoy something they’ve cooked may make them feel appreciated. Also, it’s not uncommon for family members to bring home something for themselves not realizing that they are putting irresistible temptation in front of a weight-conscious loved one.
If you find yourself in this predicament, frank, assertive communication will be your best ally. Be sure to explain to your loved ones what you’re trying to accomplish and ask for help in reaching that goal. Identify specific temptations that usually cause you to slip up. For example, having ice cream in the house may be your undoing. If you can’t trust yourself to have ice cream around without bingeing but you don’t want to keep your spouse from enjoying it, ask him or her to bring home a pint serving rather than a quart or half gallon