The biggest enemy to a weight-loss plan? The dreaded plateau.
It can be frustrating to work so hard only to hit a major wall. After weeks of progress, suddenly you're seeing the same number reflected on the scale or the same fit in your clothes. What gives?
Truthfully, there are plenty of habits that could be sabotaging your progress -- you just may not recognize them. Below are a few surprising reasons your weight-loss goals are stalling.
1. You're prioritizing exercise over diet.
Many people believe that they can indulge in a few more scoops of ice cream after an intense gym session -- a method of thinking that does more harm than good. The truth is, healthy bodies are made in the kitchen. Research shows that diet is slightly more important than exercise when it comes to a healthy weight loss transformation, although both are crucial overall.
2. You're not sleeping enough.
Getting proper rest can improve every aspect of your life -- including the number on the scale. Research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. Rack up Zs to help drop pounds.
3. You're chained to your desk.
A sedentary workday could be destroying your weight loss goals without you even realizing it. Studies show that sitting for an exorbitant amount of time at work can lead to weight gain. Try prioritizing breaks, scheduling mobile meetings and even going for a longer walk at lunchtime. Bonus: There are huge well-being perks to gain from the activity as well.
4. You have an underlying mental health issue.
Research suggests that mental health conditions like depression can lead to changes in appetite, which can result in weight gain. If you're feeling more than just a general sadness and it's a feeling that persists, check in with a medical professional. Other symptoms include a loss of motivation and low energy.
5. You're opting for diet soda.
Diet soda lures you with the promise of being a healthier option, but that's hardly the case. Research shows that calorie-free, artificially-sweetened drinks may actually contribute to weight gain and increase cravings for real sugar. Opt for water instead.
6. You're not eating enough.
Kiss that cleanse goodbye. Slashing calories isn't always the best way to get healthy, particularly if it means you're not getting any nutrients at all. The ideal avenue to a healthy weight is to engage in a balanced diet. That means eating plenty of natural fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats.
7. You're constantly running on the treadmill.
Or only going to SoulCycle, or only trudging on the elliptical. Variability in your workouts is vital. Make sure to add a strength training component to your fitness routine as well as switch up your type of cardio. Challenging yourself will help you see better results.
8. You're underestimating how much you eat at restaurants.
Sure, that salad may seem healthy, but you can't really know how much dressing the kitchen slathers on or what kind of preservatives they use for some of the ingredients. Cooking at home saves an average of 250 calories over a restaurant meal, Fitness magazine reported. If you do go to a restaurant, here are some tricks to make it as healthy as possible.
9. You're stressed.
Excessive worry can wreak havoc on any health plan. Studies suggest that stress is connected to weight gain thanks to the body's production of cortisol, which may lead to unhealthy food choices. If you're looking for a way to mellow out, try one of these handy tricks.
10. You're watching your favorite show while you eat dinner.
Sorry, "House of Cards" fans. You may want to pause your marathon when you're eating. People tend to consume more when they're distracted than they would if they were mindfully focusing on their meal, according to Harvard Health. It all comes down to your brain processing what's going on in your body, which it can't do as effectively when you're watching Frank Underwood tear through the White House.
Looking for more weight-loss hints? Check out these healthy tips here -- and say "sayonara" to the plateau.