7 Weight Loss Mistakes You Didn’t Realize You Were Making

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You snack on fruit, count calories, and get some form of exercise most days, so when you step on that scale and the needle stays put, you wonder what the heck you’re doing wrong. Even with clean eating and good fitness habits, you may be making a few small mistakes that can lead to a plateau and derail your results.

Dropping pounds boils down to a simple-sounding formula: burn more calories than you take in; eat less and move more. But anybody who has ever cut calories and ramped up an exercise plan in an effort to slim down knows it’s a lot harder than it sounds. All dieters inevitably make mistakes along the way—and most of the time they don’t even realize it. Here are the 7 flubs that everyone makes when they’re trying to shed fat:

Mistake No. 1: You use the word “but”

One of the biggest challenges many people face loosing weight: ending negative thoughts and excuses. Any time you use the word but, you completely discount whatever comes before it. For example: “I am going to cook at home this week, but I don’t know if that will work because I have a really busy week.” Try substituting it for the word and. “I am going to cook at home this week, and I have a really busy week.”

Now those two things can coexist. Other words that should be on your no-say list? Try, kinda, and sorta. Stop using these words, and you’ll stop giving yourself an excuse and undermining your progress. Turn “I’ll try to get to the gym three times this week” into “I will get to the gym three times this week,” for example. Once you start to change your patterns, it’ll become easier to stay on track.

Mistake No. 2: All crunch, no cardio

One of the biggest mistakes women make when trying to figure out how to lose belly fat: too many crunches, too little cardio. No matter how toned your abs are, your belly won’t look flat until you get rid of the layer of fat on top of them. For that, you need to rev your calorie burn. Interval training, in which you alternate high-intensity bursts of activity with easier bouts, has been shown to zap more belly fat than steady-paced moderate workouts.

Mistake No. 3: Counting Calories with no reference point

Only 11% of Americans correctly estimate their ideal daily calorie requirements, according to one survey. The rest of us tend to overestimate! Let’s say you assume that consuming 2,000 calories per day will allow you to reach your target weight, but it really takes 1,800: Those extra 200 are enough to keep an additional 20 pounds on your frame.

Mistake No. 4: Not controlling your portions

What you put on your plate is important, but healthy eating is also about being mindful of how much you consume. For example, your husband has pancakes with butter and syrup for breakfast, your son grabs a doughnut, and you opt for a cup of oatmeal with a handful of walnuts, a sliced banana, and a large glass of organic blueberry juice. You may win on nutrients, but when it comes to calories, you’re dead last: That healthy-sounding meal adds up to almost 700 calories, more than a third of your allotment for the day.

Mistake No. 5: You go it alone

A 1999 study done in Pennsylvania looked at the benefits of increased social support for weight loss and maintenance and determined that those who recruited friends had better results at the end of the four-month study. They were also more likely to maintain their weight loss for the long-term. You need to have people you can brag to, or share that you did something good for yourself and they’re happy for you. Get those people involved in the changes you’re making and that’ll really help guarantee success!

Mistake No. 6: Drinking Sugary Fruit juice

Having just a big glass of juice for breakfast will seriously get in the way to your fitness goals. Most juice raises blood sugar, so your body produces more insulin — meaning you’ll get hungry and overeat later. Most people ignore their liquid intake when mapping out their diet plan, but everything counts!

MISTAKE #7: YOU DON’T EAT BEFORE YOU WORK OUT!

If you think you’re keeping your calorie count down by avoiding grub pre-workout, get this: In new research out of the University of Arkansas, women who ate a high-protein meal before moderately exercising for 30 minutes boosted their calorie burn more than the ones who didn’t chow down.