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10. You’re too restrictive

10. You’re too restrictive
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In the same vein as avoiding fad diets that eliminate entire food groups, you don’t want to be too restrictive with what you allow yourself to eat.

Restriction sets you up for failure, because it’s not sustainable in the long run.

“Being too restrictive with your meal plan leads to burn out and often times binge eating,” Palinski-Wade says.

“There’s a reason we say that diets don’t work, and it’s because of the mentality that a diet is something you will ‘go on’ only to ‘go off’ again in the future. Instead of ‘dieting,’ focus on making one or two small changes and build upon this over time to not just lose weight but to keep it off for life.”

If you ease into it, and still allow yourself a treat every now and again, you’ll get used to the change gradually and will adapt better to healthy eating.

“Bottom line: Long-term lifestyle changes are necessary to maintain a healthy weight,” Moore says.

“This includes mindful eating, daily exercise, and portion control.”

The perfect meal is one in which you are served a reasonably sized portion of wonderful, surprising, delicious food. You shouldn’t feel overly full at the end of the meal, but you shouldn’t be hungry either.

Portion size is important to every well-balanced diet.

11. You’re not considering your genetics

11. You’re not considering your genetics
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Scientists are learning there’s no one-size-fits-all diet plan, so what helps one person lose weight could actually make someone else gain weight.

Trial and error is an option, but to get clearer answers on what will or won’t work for you, consider over-the-counter genetic testing.

“Although the majority of your weight status is influenced by your environment and lifestyle choices, some of the way your body stores fat, as well as your body weight, is determined by genes,” says Seattle-based registered dietitian Ginger Hultin, RDN, a coach at the scientific wellness company Arivale.

“There’s not just one gene that determines this predisposition – there are hundreds, so genetic testing should take into account polygenic data to provide the most accurate information.”

Your results might reveal, for example, that you’re overly sensitive to dietary fat, so a fat-heavy diet plan like keto or Paleo could be a disaster for you.

“Your genes can give some insight into whether you may be more likely to gain weight from eating dietary fat or carbohydrates but again, it’s very multifactorial,” Hultin says.

12. You’re not making it yours

12. You’re not making it yours
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What’s the perfect diet for your personality type? The one you will stick to. Along with genetics, consider logistical, economic and personal preferences.

For example, if you love exercising, make that a bigger part of your routine; or if you find it easy to meal plan or love to cook, focus on food.

When it comes to the type of diet, no one size fits all. A recent study showed greater overall success was achieved by matching different people to different diets.

All facets of weight loss are important, but you’re definitely more likely to succeed at making lifestyle changes you can actually live with.

“To stick with long-term positive changes in healthy eating or exercise, it’s important to make it something that you enjoy and even look forward to,” Hultin says.

“This makes change much more sustainable and enjoyable.”

13. You’re not going with your gut

13. You’re not going with your gut
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Your microbiome, the colony of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the digestive tract, may also affect how different people respond to foods.

A recent study showed specific microbes correlated with blood sugar rises after a meal.

“The evidence right now on the microbiome is still too preliminary to understand the connection between gut bacteria and weight, or how you may respond to different foods, [but] there is some interesting research on the diversity of gut bacteria and the positive ways it can be influenced by plant foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and beans,” Hultin says.

To keep your gut healthy, eat whole foods and those with probiotics, like yoghurt and sauerkraut.

14. You’re not considering other health issues

14. You’re not considering other health issues
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If you’re having trouble dropping kilos despite your best efforts, see your doctor to check if something else may be going on. For example, a slow thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause weight gain; or it could be a side effect of a medication you’re taking.

“Medications, thyroid labs, and other testing should be assessed by your physician if you have concerns,” Hultin says.

Stress, mental health, as well as sleep also play huge roles in body weight.”

Be sure to address all aspects of your lifestyle for optimal results. “Looking at weight loss holistically, from all angles, creates a more well-rounded and balanced program that truly impacts long-term health positively,” Hultin says.

15. You’re not being NEAT

15. You’re not being NEAT
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Going to the gym might not do much if you spend the rest of the day lying on the couch or sitting at your office desk.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) are the calories you’re burning when you’re not working out, just from walking around, standing, climbing stairs, doing housework and generally being a more active person.

Studies have found the amount of NEAT expended in different people can vary by 2,000 calories a day – and obese people tend to sit 2.5 hours longer per day than lean people.

“No need to go to the gym for two hours if you don’t want to – research shows that getting up and moving while limiting sedentary behaviour throughout the day is important,” Hultin says.

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16. You’re eating too much “healthy” food

16. You’re eating too much “healthy” food
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Certain foods, like vegetables, are less calorie-dense, which means you can eat more of them. But even if you’re eating healthily, you still have to watch portion sizes.

“When you eat a food you assume is a healthy option, it tends to have a ‘health halo‘ around it; you feel as though you can eat more of it without any negative impact on health or weight,” Palinski-Wade says.

“You may eat larger portions of ‘diet’ foods or splurge on other foods since you were eating only ‘healthy’ options the rest of the day. This can lead to an excessive intake of calories, which can lead to weight gain.”

Plus, studies show many processed products labeled “diet” or “low-fat” can lead to weight gain, because the manufacturers make up for the loss of fat by adding more sugar or other fillers.

17. You don’t have a “squad”

17. You don’t have a “squad”
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Working out and eating healthily with friends or loved ones can provide motivation and support – and that makes a difference.

In one study, 95 percent of people who embarked on a weight loss program with friends completed it, compared to 76 percent of those who went it alone.

Research consistently shows people gravitate toward the health habits of those around them – in another study, the more time obese people spent with their fit friends, the more weight they lost.

“Accountability and support are two main ingredients to long-term weight management success,” Palinski-Wade says.

“Surrounding yourself with individuals who can help to provide encouragement and support can be a great way to increase motivation and help you stay on track.”

18. You’re not keeping track

18. You’re not keeping track
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You may not realise how much you’re eating – or how little you’re exercising – unless you record your habits. One study showed those participants who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.

“This is mostly due to increased awareness and accountability,” Palinski-Wade says.

In addition, “fitness gadgets are a great way to boost daily movement,” she says. “The awareness these provide can often help you to move more on otherwise inactive days.”

Although research on fitness trackers has so far not shown much influence on weight loss, newer products offer improved features that can better help keep you on track.

19. You’re a yo-yo dieter

19. You’re a yo-yo dieter
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Losing weight quickly and gaining it back repeatedly, called yo-yo dieting or weight cycling, isn’t just frustrating psychologically – research shows the back and forth confuses your body and can make it actually harder to lose weight in subsequent attempts.

Plus, “crash diets that cause you to lose weight rapidly due to excessive dietary restriction can lead to a loss of both body fat and muscle mass,” Palinski-Wade says. “The more muscle you lose, the slower your metabolism, which makes it easier to gain the weight back and harder to lose it again.”

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Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team