I spent three years of my life making mistakes when I was on my journey of losing weight. If there’s anything worth doing, I don’t want you my Pretty Awesome readers to fall into the same trap like I did.
In my first year of wanting to change, I was introduced by a good friend of mine to this ‘magical potion’ called Meal Replacement Shake. Anyone of you wanting to lose weight would probably have heard about it. It comes in all shapes and sizes, tastes and textures but you know what I mean.
In my second year of wanting to change, I was told that eating about 1000-1200 calories a day and it doesn’t matter what I ate can make me shed some kilos. There were days I had something like a Subway sandwich for lunch and a light breakfast and dinner. Some days I felt a little flexible and allowed myself to have a piece of mini Twix, as long as my daily calorie needs don’t go past 1200.
In my third year of wanting to change, I hated exercise. It makes me tired and I never understood what people get excited about when hitting the gym or going for a run. I didn’t want to move a single muscle in my body because I told myself I had a million things to do, as an excuse for not taking up a physical activity.
The result? Well, I failed. Obviously. In my years of training others and myself, I discovered some of the mistakes people make when trying to be healthy. The saddest thing is, these are the people who are just starting out, those who wants to take the first step in making a change like I did three years ago. Here are the top 6 mistakes I see newbies make when trying to get healthy along with some tips on how to change that.
Mistake 1. You’re too eager.
Does this sound like you? You have good intentions. You want to change your life. You are sick of not exercising, sick of not working out and sick of being so sick all the time. You want to change everything in one go and nothing in this world can stop you.
The overeager person starts doing everything at one go. They say they want to exercise for an hour six days a week. They want to eat more vegetables. They want to sleep for seven hours every night.
Honestly, I get tired just typing all of that out! Imagine if you’ve been inactive all your life and suddenly you wake up one morning, typically on new year’s day and decide change everything.
Why this is a problem? Typically, the overeager will follow through with their plans to change everything for a week or two and then they suddenly hit a wall and experience a complete burnout. Here’s the problem – trying to change everything at one go will use up our already limited willpower. In fact, there are tremendous amounts of scientific evidence that explains how we can run out of our willpower and fall back to bad and old habits. I have covered quite a bit about this in my willpower post but here’s a recap.
The solution? If you’re trying to change your lifestyle too much at one time, try heading this way instead:
1) Do something according to your ability. If you’re a level one person, don’t try and tackle a level 12 on the elliptical trainer. It’s good to have huge dreams but you’ve got to work on your abilities and move on from there.
2) Don’t try to do too many things at once. As I’ve mentioned, our willpower is a limited resource. It runs out fairly quickly so instead of focusing on so many things at once, pick one thing, just one thing and do that. Shower it with lots of love, care and attention and then move on from there once you’ve got that settled.
Never underestimate the power of momentum. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s harder to stop. Being too eager is great but in the ultimate battle of fitness and health, it’s much easier to start with the easiest change and working up from there.
Mistake 2. You’re too vague.
Does this sound like you?
“I want to lose weight.”
“I want to sleep better.”
“I want to eat more vegetables.”
Vague goals sounds like this. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here but there is no way you can measure your success both physically and emotionally unless you have solid and realistic goals.
Why this is a problem? You need a goal in life. It doesn’t matter which direction you’re heading to, and it doesn’t need to be a matter of fitness and health, if you want to achieve something, you’ve got to have a plan. Don’t suck in making them. If it doesn’t have a timeline, it probably sucks. If you’re telling me you want to lose weight but don’t know what you’re doing or by when you want to lose weight by or even how much you want to lose weight, your goal is seriously not a goal. It’s simply a statement of intent. Yes, you have the intention but you’re not going anywhere far with that.
The solution? If your goals sound too vague, start sitting down and work on it. No running or physical exercise required, yet. All you need to do is just take out a notebook and a pen and drill that beautiful brain of yours in making SMART goals. I’ve covered this part extensively last week so please start working and stop being too vague. Don’t make that mistake. It’s not awesome.
Mistake 3. You’re not accountable for your own actions.
Does this sound like you? You want to lose weight, and start being healthier, but it really doesn’t matter if you have a slice of pizza or miss a workout. There’s no consequence to it and it’s cool to just have another donut – it won’t kill you.
If you’re being unaccountable about your actions and things that you do, it’s so hard to reach your goal. There is no incentive or accountability to get things done so chances are you’ll probably lose your motivation fast. If you’re being unaccountable, you’re giving a chance for your body to slack and one donut can turn to two and one day of eating bad foods will then turn into a week. You’ll look into the mirror, get depressed and then you start exercising and making healthier choices all over again.
The solution? Try to set up some sort of accountability into your life. This links to mistake number two of being too vague because if you’re making vague goals, chances are you’re not having the right reasons to change. You can try placing a bet with a good friend and give up $50 if you don’t reach your goal. Or even better, try announcing your goals to everyone in your network or to your family and friends.
This way you know you have a reason to start making healthier options and you will get there.
Mistake 4. You’re getting advice from all the wrong places.
I was here at some point of my life and here’s why you should not make this mistake. First up, does this sound like you?
You have good intentions but since you’re new in this, you start picking up advice from everyone you know who might have a slight idea of being healthy. You listen to mainstream media. You somehow heard that eating very low calories can shed some kilos (like I did!) and that eating small amounts of fat will make you lose fat. You pick up the new edition of that fitness magazine and you start doing the exercise that promises you toned, tight and flat tummy in three weeks. Your best friend is starting on a new fitness program and you decide it is right for you too, even though you are working on one program right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I know, you’re trying your best to be healthy. But it makes me sad when I hear all this bullsh*t circulating around in the fitness industry that tries to manipulate people with a big heart like you.
After 3+ years of making mistakes and 4+ years of living and teaching fitness, I have to tell you this – educate yourself. Knowledge is power especially when it comes to your health. Educate yourself about eating healthy. Know that not all carbs are bad. Always try and listen with an open mind and use your own judgement to decide whether something is right or wrong.
At the end of the day, do not overcomplicate things.
It all comes down to this – excess weight happens due to excess calories taken in. Low-fat does not necessarily mean it’s bad. Protein builds muscle. And not all calories are equal.
If you’re getting too much information from unverified sources, chances are you’re confusing your otherwise already pumped up motivation, which may lead to frustration and failure.
Mistake 5. You can’t stick to a routine.
Does this sound like you? You’re two weeks into a program, and suddenly the whole town is talking about the UFC workout. You heard about this new training program that is developed by this guy who has ripped 6-pack abs. You heard about a new supplement, a new DVD or even a new fitness class. You don’t seem to see much results from your current plan (note, it’s only two weeks) so you decide to change to this other plan which promises better results.
Remember this. It took you years to come into this shape in your life right now, it will take you a few months of hard work to start feeling and seeing results. Rome wasn’t built in the day and I want you to stop changing your routine. If there is anything new in town, chances are they want you to buy the program because that is how they make money.
The solution? You’re smart, I know you are. So pick a plan and stick to it. If you’re doing what the plan is saying, if you’re exercising more and if you’re eating better than you normally do, you will see results. Remember to be patient and keep going. You will get there.
Mistake 6. You keep weighing yourself.
Here’s a huge mistake I made in the past. When I was attempting to live healthier the first time round, I measured my weight every single week. And I get disappointed that I’m only losing about 1lb per week (I didn’t know that was great progress last time!). Being disappointed, I became less motivated and then I fell back to old habits. I didn’t see the point of working out when I’m not even seeing results.
When I tried to lose weight again a year later, I identified my problem and how much it has a negative impact on me and decided to do it differently this time. I weighed myself once a month, instead of weekly, and although the results were about 4lbs a month, I was happier because it was a bigger number.
See what I did there? It was all in the mind if you didn’t notice it. I had the exact same results but my mind told me that it feels good to see a bigger number on the scales.
Moral of the story? Stop weighing yourself too much! Here’s the thing. Scales can lie. Our weight fluctuates immensely throughout the day. If you weigh yourself this morning and then weigh yourself again at night, you’ll probably be a one or two lbs heavier. I know that is common sense, but say you had a high sodium dinner the night before. Your weight will be totally different the next morning due to the fact that sodium promotes water storage.
If you want a better track of your measurements, try measuring your body girths instead, and I mean by physically taking out the tape and measuring your chest, hips and waist. Even better, get your body fat percentage measured. I’ve also recently started taking pictures of myself to see changes. Sometimes we don’t realise how much we’ve changed until we physically see them. That’s another way of working through your metrics.
Here’s to you…
In all honesty, there are probably more reasons than this 6 that I have outlined here today. That is why for today’s post, I’m opening it up for discussion. Now tell me, are you familiar with any common mistakes when trying to be healthy the first time? Perhaps it’s your own mistake. Or the mistake of someone you care for.
Whatever it is, share with the rest of the community. I would love to offer solutions and help but first you have to tell me and the rest of us here, by leaving a comment below!
Now here’s the best part! At the end of this week, I’ll pick the best comment and one mistake and then write a blog post about it next week to outline the things you can do to stop making it.
Let’s all be a better version of ourselves. We are a small but growing community so let’s take this chance to help one another.
Have a great week ahead and I’m looking forward to hearing your answers!