Top Ten Diet and Fitness Mistakes to Avoid in 2015

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Fitbit10. Assuming hitting 10,000 steps is actually accomplishing something big. While the FitBit craze makes this number seem mighty magical, there really is no magic in this number, unless you have not been currently taking 10,000 steps a day. Really, the question should be, did I move more today than yesterday? If you did, great- then you DID do something big. Otherwise you are giving yourself credit for the same 10,000 steps you took yesterday, but just didn’t have a device to pat you on the back for doing it.

9. Skipping protein for breakfast. Carbs will hold you over for only a little while, and the fiber in oatmeal or meal replacement bars for just a bit more. Make sure your breakfast contains at least one protein serving to last all morning long.

8. Taking medications that cause weight gain. Why sabotage your health in the guise of medicine? It makes no sense, yet physicians prescribe medications that cause weight gain every day. Talk to your doctor if your medication is knowingly causing you to gain weight, and work to find an alternative. A legitimate alternative may be getting rid of the medication entirely, but this plan may take time, and may require visits to other providers like a physical therapist, or maybe to a physician who better involves you in your treatment plan to help you achieve this goal.

7. Taking lots of vitamins and supplements and not knowing why or what you are taking them for, much less whether or not they work. Many of them do work, just do some solid research, know the effective doses, and only take what you need. While you are at it, make sure any supplements and vitamins do not interact with any medications you may be taking, including everyday ones like antibiotics and birth control by asking your family doctor or pharmacist.

6. Going on a gluten-free diet because everybody’s doing it. Fad diets come and go, as this one will as well for people who are truly not gluten-sensitive. Eliminating any one food product is never a good idea, because it may actually create food sensitivities/allergies in the future. For example, pregnant women used to be told to avoid peanuts/peanut butter and kids were given no peanut products early in childhood.   Now we have a huge increase in kids with peanut allergies. Our bodies get accustomed to what they see frequently, and may react to something it hasn’t seen in a while even as we age. No need to make extreme diet changes to eliminate entire groups of foods and ingredients without a medical reason to do so, as this may cause more harm than good in the long run, no matter how well intended our efforts.

belly fat5. Assuming if you are overweight and have belly fat that your first step should be going on a diet. The number one cause of belly fat and over-eating is stress and fatigue due to excess levels of cortisol. Get your life in order and get at minimum 7 hours of sleep each night, and then focus on diet and exercise. Why not do it all at once? We are far less likely to be successful in changing bad habits if we address them all at once. Start with one per week or month, and build on that success with the others in the weeks and months to follow.

4. Doing all or nothing, all pain or no gain work-outs that are all the rage. If you are up to the challenge and have a good work-out base, go ahead and challenge yourself. If you are fresh off the couch, you are much better served building up a cardio base, adding some weights, and working it from there, as you will score more time actually working out, less time nursing injuries and being hampered by severe and prolonged post-work-out soreness.

Drink lots of water3. Eating when you are actually thirsty. This especially tends to happen during the mid-afternoon lull when you think you are getting hungry again, when actually, you just haven’t had anything to drink since lunch and again near bedtime, several hours after supper. Try drinking some cold ice water and see if this quenches your “hunger” before indulging in a snack, especially if you are craving a sugary pick-me-up.

2. Expecting brand new results from the same old work-out. Elliptical- check. Circuit weights- check. Yoga class- check. None of these things are bad, but your body gets used to doing the same thing all the time, and pretty soon there are no net benefits for your muscles and for your cardiovascular system. Instead, mix it up, using different modes of exercise (walk, run, swim, bike, yoga, pilates, TRX, weigth training), different intensities (slow, fast, intervals), and different amounts of time (change up the number of days per week of each activity), or better yet, change it all up by doing something completely different for an entire period of 8-12 weeks (cross training) before you go back to what you like (your typical routine). The bonus will be seen in how you look, feel, and in reduced wear and tear by using different muscles and joints in different ways than what they are accustomed. Did we mention relieving boredom as well? This could be fun!

1. Devoting a temporary period of time to fix a long term problem: i.e. dieting and exercise as a temporary solution to a lifelong problem of unhealthy food choices and portion sizes along with lack of exercise. Instead, plan to make lifelong changes of healthier food choices, less food at each meal (our metabolism slows with aging), and just trying a new/fun food versus engorging in the calorie-laden treat. Eat to taste, not to get full on these types of food items. For exercise, find something you love to do, are motivated to do, and will be able to do for many years to come, not just for the moment. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare- the tortoise (slow and steady) won the race.