**found in InStyle Magazine 2011
You try to do the right stuff: fill the fruit bowl, heat up a diet frozen dinner, and never even glance at a dessert menu. So why is the number on your scale heading north? Turns out the road to healthy weight loss is paved with good intentions...and the occasional fumble. Get back on track with these fixes for common blunders, and shed those pounds for good!
Mistake 1: You fear carbs
Carbohydrates have a sinister and unfounded rap for packing on weight. But when you avoid them, you deplete serotonin levels, which can cause you to feel deprived. And no one can last long on a diet that makes them feel grouchy. "Your brain energy fades, you're tired and you're crabby," says Jackie Keller, founder of NutriFit, a healthy meals service that counts Ginner Goodwin as a client. "Grains are for brains".
The FIX: Keller recommends loading up on "favorable" carbs, such as fruits, veggies and whole grains. "Those have fiber, vitamins, and minerals".
Mistake 2: You overestimate your workout's calorie burn. You hop off the elliptical after a 45-minute sweat session, and as you're heading out the gym door, you a few handfuls of trail mix into your mouth. Bad move. "You've just consumed double the amount of calories that you just burned," says Joy Bauer, a Today show contributor and author of Joy Bauer's Food Cures. "A lot of women overcompensate this way."
The FIX: Even if it means keeping a flashcard in your gym bag, remind yourself often of the calorie expenditure of your favorite workout.
Mistake 3: You eat healthy food but don't cook it yourself. When is a plate of spinach not the dieting super food it's cracked up to be? When it's dripping in butter and oil, restaurant style. Basically, if you don't prepare your own food, you give up control over your caloric destiny. And it's not just the extras like salt and sugar that doom your menu orders; its the massive portions too! Grilled salmon is fab, but not when you are eating enough for 3 people.
The FIX: Slip on an apron or order wisely. Nutritionist Tanya Zuckerbrot's F-Factor Diet Website (FFactor.com) lists the healthiest options at popular chains.
Mistake 4: You wing it. Quick! What's for dinner tonight? "If you don't know, you are likely to decide when you are already hungry, tired or rushed, " says Lauren Slayton, owner of Foodtrainers.net, a nutrition firm in NYC. That can also lead to grabbing whatever's handiest or most compelling, like that bag of "artisanal" potato chips. Another no-no; not being prepared for those inevitable mid-morning and afternoon energy dips.
The FIX: Everyday, make at least a rough plan for all meals and snacks. yes, snacks. "Eating a small, healthful snack between meals" try red pepper strips or low fat string cheese "will stabilize blood sugar and keep your metabolism going strong," says Tanya Zuckerbrot. "You'll also avoid overeating at your next meal".
Mistake 5: You eat a lot of prepared/pre-packaged diet food. Low calorie snack bars, frozen dinners and the like aren't necessarily healthy. "Diet foods often have too much sodium and sugar," says NYC fitness and wellness expert David Kirsch. The fact that they're low-cal can also send the wrong message and set your munching wheels in motion-who hasn't absentmindedly worked her way through a giant stack of low-fat cookies? Joy Bauer acknowledges that a frozen diet meal can be convenient for time-starved women but points out that these dishes don't teach you how to eat wisely when the diet is over and you are back in the real world of cooking at home and eating at restaurants.
The FIX: Use diet meals sparingly, says Bauer. "They can be a great jump-start, but ultimately you have to be smart about the transition" to non-diet food and unregulated portions.
Mistake 6: You drink a lot and we're not talking water! You thought this one would be all about alcohol, right? Wrong-sort of. Ignoring, for a moment, the 400-500 calorie frozen margarita, its the liquids you guzzle on a daily if not hourly basis that you really have to watch. "It's mind-boggling to tally the calories we consume in coffee concoctions, sweetened teas, sodas, and fruit smoothies," says Bauer. "I tell clients to save their calories for food and concentrate on drinking water, naturally flavored zero-calorie seltzer, or unsweetened coffee or tea. If you need to sweeten up, do it yourself and stick to real sugar. At 20 calories per tsp, it won't wreck your get-slim plan. **Red alert: Cranberry juice packs about 120 calories per 8 oz. glass, lighten it up with seltzer.
Mistake 7: You Over-Fruit. If one banana is good for you, five must be fantastic, right? Not exactly. Although fruit is definitely healthy, some are way more sugary and caloric then others. One medium banana, for example contains 105 calories and 27 grams of carbs. Others in the supersweet camp include cherries, grapes and mangos. So while fruit is certainly nutritionally superior to, say a Snickers bar, 100 calories here and there can add up fast.
The FIX: Don't cut out the fruit, just cut down on the portions. "Fruit is full of fiber, phytochemicals, and vitamins" says Slayton. "But if you're trying to lose weight, stick to one or two servings per day." And be sure to choose from the less sugary but still delicious parts of the fruit basket, which includes berries (especially blackberries and raspberries), grapefruit and apples.
**Life is a bowl of cherries? Not if you want to shed the pounds. An ideal serving is 1/2 cup.
Enjoy! xoxo Julie