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Remembering The Titanic: Top Ten Weight Loss Mistakes Others Make But We Can Avoid

Patrick Henry once said, "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I have no way of judging the future but by the past." Fortunately for us, there are millions of people who have gone before us attempting to lose fat and/or weight, each with varying degrees of success. We can learn from their collective experiences and gain enlightenment, or insight, into our own weight loss plans.

Over the next several paragraphs we're going to review things that have been reported as "weight loss mistakes". Take some time to read each one and compare/contrast them with your own personal weight loss plan.

Weight loss and fat loss success is the result of making the right adjustments and living with them. Quite possibly some of the adjustments you've made may need to be reconsidered.

Mistake #1: Expecting to lose weight too quickly. We've talked about this in earlier issues. We can spend years messing up relationships and expect them to be healed or repaired after sincerely saying, "I'm sorry." What is it about humans that we think that things should be a certain way just because we want it to be? It takes years to get out of shape and overweight. It will take a long time to lose the weight and get back into shape. Patience is a key to making life-long changes for the better.

Mistake #2: Adopting a plan that is not sustainable over the course of your lifetime. This mistake is two-fold in nature. The first aspect is creating a habit that is unreasonable to continue long term. Some examples would be the tabloid diets you read about in the line at the grocery store. Grapefruit diets, cabbage diets, chicken soup diets. We need variety in our lives. Thinking that we can forego that variety forever is a recipe for failure. The second aspect is thinking that the lifestyle that we are adopting is only short term and that we'll go back to our previous lifestyle when our weight is gone. Our previous lifestyle IS the problem; the new lifestyle is the solution. We need to adopt a lifestyle that will become, literally, a style of life for us.

Mistake #3: Neglecting to be quantity-conscious. This is really a huge issue. At every meal we need to scrutinize the amount of food we serve ourselves and limit ourselves to a single serving. If we put too much food on our plate, chances are we're going to eat it... whether we need it or not. Using smaller plates make it easier to avoid serving up too much food. Don't let someone else serve for you. Make sure you serve yourself so that you can control the quantity.

Mistake #4: Choosing the wrong places to eat out. Eating out is the "mine field" in the battle of the bulge. Every step you take needs to be measured and selected carefully. If you select a fast-food restaurant, make sure they have low calorie options available. A grilled chicken sandwich without mayonnaise, or a salad with a very light dressing and water can be a safe fast-food meal. Treating yourself to the "mega-burger" dripping with sauce and a small diet soda can set you back an entire week or two. Avoid a buffet or smorgasbord. It's human nature to overeat at one of those places. Enough said?

Mistake #5: Avoiding eating breakfast. Your body's metabolism goes to sleep at night when you sleep. While the alarm clock may wake you up, it is breakfast that wakes up your metabolism. It's easy to justify skipping breakfast if you think only about total calories over the course of a day. Unfortunately, what you burn is as important as what you eat, especially when you have excess fat to burn. Keep your furnace burning from morning to night by spreading the day's calories out over the course of the entire day.

Mistake #6: Being unaware of what you are eating. Be familiar with the ingredients and the way your food is prepared. A fried chicken breast, skin on, breaded and fried can yield about eleven grams of fat. The same chicken breast with the skin removed and no breading - but still fried - yields only two and a half grams of fat. The battered breast has about 220 calories, while the non-battered skinless version has less than 100. That's an amazing difference! Over two times the number of calories and four times the amount of fat!

Mistake #7: Making candy and snack foods a part of your hospitality. Bowls of M&M's are my personal weakness. I used to work in an office where my administrative assistant would keep bags of the variegated nuggets of pleasure ready. Every pass by her desk was rewarded with another handful of the miniature waistline destroyers. In retrospect, I can visualize a change taking place in my own physique. Make sure you aren't subverting your own attempts to control what you eat. Even seemingly innocuous snack foods can cause a world of damage. Try to keep fresh fruit available. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, peaches and others are typically available nearly year around.

Mistake #8: Relying upon "fat free foods". A common mistake is to assume that "fat free" means that the item is good for you, healthy, or low in calories. Fat free simply means that there is no fat. Fat is usually pleasant in taste and adds a nice texture to food. If it has been removed, pause for a second to consider what has been put in its place. Is the fat replacement high in calories? Is it a chemical? Will my body be able to metabolize it?

Mistake #9: Dressing up the "right" foods with the "wrong" things. The classic example is the salad. The seemingly innocent plate of assorted greens couldn't possibly do any damage. Ah, but then we blanket it with mayonnaise or oil-based dressings, cheese, croutons, or bacon bits, and voila... we have created a monster. Salads are not the only well-intentioned meals that can stick around longer than we have planned. Low calorie sandwiches can become high-fat meals with the addition of only a modest amount of mayonnaise. A tablespoon of "light" mayonnaise can have as much as FIVE grams of fat!

Mistake #10: Not eating enough. This mistake is saved for last for a reason. Most of us are not in this category. We are not talking about skipping breakfast here; we are talking about starvation diets. This insidious type of dieting is both dangerous and counterproductive. The person using this method will typically see a quick loss of mostly water weight and get the feeling that they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the health risks are very severe. This kind of dieting can bring on cardiac damage, gout, gallstones, anemia and not only that... it actually slows your metabolism. When the starvation dieter finally gives up, the weight typically comes back with a vengeance!

Hopefully we've touched on something that you can identify in your routine that needs to be adjusted or, at the very least, contemplated. Mistakes can be rather helpful, as long as we're not making them ourselves!

Michael Callen is the author of the Weekly Weightloss Tips Newsletter ( and the Chief Technology Officer for, an online retailer of dozens of health and wellness products such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), r+ alpha lipoic acid (R+ ALA), and Green Tea Extract.


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