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Dieting is hard work, and there’s so much information (or i should so misinformation) out there that it’s no wonder people fail over and over again. Whether you’re getting tips from websites, companies, or even acquaintances in the fitness world, it can be difficult to pinpoint a routine that works for you and supports your goals. 

1. Unrealistic Diet Goals and Expectations

“Lose 5 lbs in ONE week!”

“Drop 30 lbs in 30 Days!!”

We’ve all seen or heard these promises, it’s everywhere we look. And let’s be honest – they’re pretty enticing. Who wouldn’t want to lose 30 lbs in 30 days? Sadly, that’s not the way it’s going to work, we can pretty much guarantee that. A realistic and healthy rate of loss is .5-1% of total body weight per week. To lose just one pound a week you need to be in a calorie deficit of 500 every day for 7 days. 3500 calories=1 lb. This means if the amount of calories your body uses on a daily basis is 2,000, you would need to decrease that amount to 1500. That’s pretty easy, 1500 calories is still a decent amount of food!

To drop 2 lbs in a week, however, a further reduction of another 500 calories is required. Yikes, now you can only eat 1,000 calories per day – trust me, that is really not a fun or sustainable diet for you to maintain.

Now, if you want to lose 3 lbs a week….. I think you can see how things are quickly snowballing into the realm of the impossible – and even the unhealthy/dangerous territory. Take a look at your goals and make sure they are REALISTIC. Don’t put yourself in any dangerous health situation simply to lose weight – not only is that not healthy, but also not sustainable. People who engage in these “crash” diets oftentimes find that they are not able to successfully keep the weight off, simply because their methods are not good for the long-term. Don’t get caught up in glitzy, over-promising marketing gimmicks – having a plan that supports your health and happiness along the way is the sure-fire way to help you achieve your goals.

2. Lack of Patience (Stick With It!)

In a world of never-ending instant gratification, fat loss is definitely not where you’re going get those quick
results – at least, not in a healthy, sustainable way. This goes hand in hand with the point about unrealistic expectations – your rate of loss perhaps isn’t going to be as fast as you’d like, but that’s part of the journey – to be proud of the work you put in, even when you aren’t able to see visual results (yet!).

A realistic and healthy rate of loss is .5-1% of total body weight per week.

The key here is to enjoy the lifestyle changes you’re making instead of just focusing on numbers on a scale – again, you want this to last, so any crash diets or quick-fixes won’t stick around for long. The key here is to:

– Keep putting in the work

– Keep yourself accountable (and if you’re not great at that, look into a nutrition coach)

– Be consistent!

– Set yourself up for changes that you can live with for the long haul.

3. Following Prescribed Meal Plans

For many, prescribed meal plans may seem like a no-brainer. It’s pretty enticing to have someone else plan out all of your meals without having to worry about the nutritional value, right? While meal-planning is a great way to keep yourself accountable for what you eat, choosing someone else’s method may not be a great long-term fit. What if the plan only spans 8 weeks? What if they have a lot of recipes you don’t like? Being realistic, if you are constantly eating meals you aren’t enjoying, you will be more likely to indulge in foods on the side that aren’t healthy and/or will throw you off your diet. 

You need to learn how to eat the foods that YOU like, in portion sizes that fit YOUR goals and caloric needs. Unfortunately, not every meal plan is customizable, and there’s nothing worse than a diet filled with foods that you don’t enjoy – trust us, that will be a very short-lived diet. Similarly, some diets don’t have ANY room for fun foods, which makes eating either a chore, a punishment, or both – neither of which are conducive to a sustainable diet and longterm lifestyle change (Haribo Gummy Bears are a staple in my diet, for example!).

4. Fad Diets

You’ve probably heard of a variety of the current fad diets:

Keto, Paleo, Whole 30, The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Military Diet, clean eating, no sugar, celery juice – the list goes on and gets crazier and crazier. 

Want to know why these are categorized as “fad” diets? None of these are sustainable long-term for the majority of the population. These are a HUGE part of common dieting mistakes – sooner or later, you will want whatever food that is forbidden on those fad diets, and you will indulge and throw yourself off. It’s silly to expect yourself to never have a slice of cake at a party, to savor your grandma’s chicken and dumplings ever again – that’s just cruel!

No diet that completely eliminates any food or entire food groups is going to be sustainable forever. 

And let’s be honest – forever is exactly what we’re aiming for. A complete lifestyle change that can make you AND your body happy. The only reason these diets “work” is because when you cut entire food groups, you inevitably create a caloric deficit. “Calories in” vs “Calories out” – that’s the ONLY reason any diet can work – and it can be done without completely denying yourself some of the foods you love. 

5. Planning

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Those words are never more true than when trying to successfully navigate a diet. When you come home starving, are you going to wait for that frozen block of chicken to thaw so you can eat? If you say yes, then power to you. Spending a bit of time on meal prep, or ensuring that you have foods ready to cook and eat will be a diet-saver. Aside from planning your meals, you can also plan ahead for your best friend’s birthday party next week. Lowering and saving some calories a bit on the days leading up to the event will give you those calories to spend Saturday without ruining your diet. A calorie bank – sounds pretty cool, and it definitely works. 

6. Failure to Change Your Habits

I bet you didn’t fully realize that dieting was going to require you to change so many habits. And let’s be real, it’s not an eassy task! The reason you are reading this article right now is likely because of a culmination of bad habits that have led you to either multiple failed diets, or difficulty sticking with a solid nutrition plan. Food is tightly intertwined with emotions. Sitting in front of the TV with a bag of pretzels is mindless boredom eating, and we oftentimes celebrate events with eating as well. Had a bad day? Pull out the Ben & Jerry’s.

It’s not our fault we were brought up this way from the first time someone stuck a bottle in our mouths when we were crying, or gave us a lollypop after a scary doctor’s appointment. Or when you got good grades, maybe you received an ice cream as a reward afterwards. It’s how we were taught. There are many things you’ll have to make a conscious effort to change to be successful with your diet, especially if you want lasting results – one of which is undoubtedly separating food from your emotional responses. 

7. Overestimating Your Activity Level

If you work out 6 times a week, you’re undoutedbly a beast. But when you calculate what your caloric intake should be, you choose “pretty active” because, after all, it sure as hell seems like it! However, when you’re not at the gym, you sit at a desk all day, you commute 45 minutes to work each way, and when you get home you make dinner, watch some TV, and go to bed. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is a lot of inactivity you didn’t add into your calculation. While working out is obviously a beneficial activity, it does not overtake all of the other “nonactivity” that takes up the majority of the rest of your day. That can definitely throw off your caloric burn calculations, especially if you solely rely on a fitness/activity tracker. These trackers can’t accurately account for calories burned through exercise, and does have a wide margin of error. For a device to gauge energy expenditure, it would need to be attached to your mouth – as caloric burn is actually measured through oxygen intake. Ultimately, don’t overestimate your activity level just to feed your ego, or due to ignorance of how beneficial your gym trips are. Keep up the good work for exercising, but don’t let it get in the way of your caloric goals!

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Dieting is a tricky thing to comprehend and implement, and no doubt you will encounter hurdles along the way. Avoid these 7 most common dieting mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to a sustainable lifestyle that will give you the results you’ve always wanted!