Nearly 70 percent of all adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Medical Association recently classified obesity as a chronic disease. And it’s a leading cause of death linked to heart disease, certain types of cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
Despite the health warnings, a lot of people struggle with their weight. They lose it and gain it back. They go on a diet or start and exercise program with lackluster results. Or they get to a point where they think they’re too old or too fat to lose weight. But take a closer look, and you’ll probably find a reason you’ve been packing on the pounds. These 6 bad habits may be sabotaging your efforts to lose.
1. Avoiding Any Real Type Of Real Exercise
If you’re truly trying to lose weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is the best formula. For overweight people, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, in addition to two days of strength training exercise. If you’re skipping workouts, and making excuses to avoid breaking a sweat, you’re probably not burning the extra calories you need to see the numbers on the scale go down from week to week. So get up, get moving, and make exercise a daily habit.
2. Eating Unhealthy Junk Food On The Daily
When was the last time you read a food label? If you’re not paying attention to the nutritional value of the food you’re eating, you may very well be eating your way to obesity. Did you know a typical fast food meal with a hamburger, french fries, and soft drink contains about 1,200 calories and 48 grams of trans fat? To put that in perspective, the average adult only needs 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Munching on cookies, pastries, and candy bars are just as loaded with empty calories and unhealthy fat. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should aim to create a calorie deficit of about 500 calories per day through diet and exercise.
3. Drinking Way Too Much Alcohol
You might feel like unwinding with a glass of wine after a long day, or toss back a few beers with friends. But if you’re trying to lose weight, drinking alcohol will stymie your efforts. Alcohol is loaded with empty calories. When you drink, your body tries to process it as energy, but when it can't keep up with your intake, it gets stored as fat.
Alcohol slows your metabolism, and can also indirectly lead to weight gain by clouding your judgment about how many slices of pizza you’re putting away. Several recent studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have found that excessive drinking does lead to weight gain. The Centers for Disease Control recommends no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men. And if you’re serious about losing weight, you may even consider giving up alcohol altogether.
4. Not Getting Enough ZZZ's
In a recent University of Colorado study, researchers found that lack of sleeps leads to weight gain. But the cause wasn’t exactly what the researchers were expecting. They found that not getting enough sleep increases appetite, provides more time awake during the day for eating, and increases the likelihood that someone will overeat. Weight gain and lack of sleep was especially likely when a wide variety of unhealthy foods were readily available. If you’re committed to losing weight, make sure you’re getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day to control your cravings, and keep empty-calorie food out of the house.
5. Lack Of Simple Resistance Training
Even if you are making it to the gym to exercise, neglecting to incorporate strength training or resistance training into your workout will keep you from losing weight as efficiently as possible. That’s because a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat, according to the American Council on Exercise. And in addition to cardiovascular training for weight loss, the American College of Sports Medicine also recommends doing strength training or resistance training at least two days a week. And you don’t need to take up bodybuilding to do strength training exercises. Even bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups will challenge your muscles, help you build more lean muscle tissue, and burn more calories.
6. Living Your Life Stressed Out All The Time
Stress is a normal part of life. There’s work deadlines, relationship problems, financial challenges, and unexpected situations that can all lead to stress. But if you’ve living day-to-day stressed out all the time, you’re sabotaging your weight loss efforts. When you’re under stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Studies show that elevated levels of cortisol alter your body’s metabolism and increase appetite.
Many people who feel stressed out reach for foods like potato chips, candy bars, and fast food to satisfy those cravings. Another study in the journal, Hypercoltisolism and Obesity, also found that elevated cortisol levels may also increase abdominal fat storage.
So take a break. Go on vacation. Try meditation. Or go fishing. Learning to manage stress in healthy ways will help you achieve your weight loss goals.