Do You Believe These Weight-Loss Myths?
The little white lies we tell ourselves don't seem harmful, but these tiny "untruths" may stand in the way of you reaching your goals. "People may set unrealistic goals or deprive themselves in extreme ways that are very difficult to maintain," says Bethany Teachman, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Virginia.
Want to stop telling yourself lies that sabotage your efforts? We've compiled six of the most common myths that undermine a healthy approach to weight loss — and offer simple ways to banish these words from your lips so that you'll gain confidence and reach your goals.
1. "I need to go on a diet."
"The whole concept of a 'diet' sets us up to think we will be 'on a diet' then 'off a diet,'" says Teachman. Instead, think of your weight-loss plan as a lifestyle commitment to healthy eating and exercise, for the long haul.
2. "I'll get back on track on Monday/after the holidays/when the sun comes out."
Why procrastinate? It will only lead to more slippage. Just track any splurges now, then pick up where you left off. Look forward, not back.
3. "All my problems will be solved when I lose weight."
Dropping pounds may leave you feeling healthier and happier, but it won't make you more lovable or turn you into a runway model. Be clear about why you want to lose weight, and set realistic goals. "It's far more motivating to strive toward being fit and energetic than it is to strive toward being a size 2," Teachman says.
4. "Heavy people don't deserve to eat."
Do you forgo the office pizza because you're afraid people will think you shouldn't be eating? Seeing yourself through others' eyes in a harsh, critical way "is a surefire way to blow a weight-loss plan," says psychologist Debra Mandel, PhD, author of Healing the Sensitive Heart. Instead, she suggests, focus on developing a more loving relationship with your body. People who started out accepting their bodies were more than twice as likely to lose weight than those who felt dissatisfied or ashamed, as reported in a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
5. "I shouldn't wear a bathing suit (shorts, a tank top) until I've lost all the weight."
People of all different sizes and shapes enjoy sexy clothes. "When you love yourself, you start enjoying life," says Mandel. Break big goals into smaller ones, and reward yourself along the way. Rather than saying, "I need to lose 25 pounds," say, "I'll buy a new swimsuit, one size smaller."
6. "The less I eat, the faster I'll lose."
Wrong. Cutting back calories to an unrealistic amount can lower your metabolism. What happens is your body becomes more efficient — meaning it needs fewer calories to perform the necessary daily functions for survival. This can slow down your weight loss. Plus, depriving yourself can backfire. Says Mandel, "Deprivation makes us unhappy and actually causes us to overeat and overindulge." A slow and steady approach — including treating yourself to your favorite foods, in moderation — is your best bet for building a healthy relationship with food and reaching your long-term goals.