Four most common misconceptions about weight loss explained

The first one? You don’t have to eat healthy 100 percent of the time. You aren’t perfect, so don’t try.

Healthy living and weight loss starts with our minds.

We must possess a thorough understanding of how and why weight gain and loss occurs. We need to comprehend the importance of clean eating and regular exercise, then put together an effective program. Above all, we must believe that we can and will succeed.

Countless times, I’ve seen people “fail” on their weight-loss program — not because they are weak-willed or lazy, but because they possess flawed logic when it comes to succeeding. Such misconceptions cause them to doubt their ability to get the job done and, eventually, they give up.

Here are the most common — and detrimental — misconceptions about weight loss.

If I’m not eating perfectly 100 percent of the time, I’m failing. This is the biggest killer of weight-loss success: The belief that you have to do it perfectly at all times. No sugar, no alcohol, no eating after 6 p.m., no liquid calories, no carbs, no exceptions. The list of rules is endless.

The truth is, you don’t have to be perfect. On the contrary, being less than perfect is the only way you’ll succeed. We crave what we cannot have, so eating clean 100 percent of the time is unrealistic and will inevitably backfire.

Aim for 85-90 percent healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and let the remaining percentage be what you want. I have followed this method for decades and swear by it.

I blew it by pigging out at lunch today. I’ll have to start over and recommit — next week.

This ties in closely to the first misconception, only here, we throw in procrastination. We’ve eaten clean and worked out for X amount of days or weeks, only to break down and consume one major gut bomb. In our minds, this single splurge negates all of our hard work and discipline. So we put off resuming our healthy living until who knows when.

So your healthy eating went down the tubes for a meal, or even a day. Whoop-dee-doo. If you resume your usual clean eating and exercise program, this small dietary indiscretion will do no harm. Trust me, I can chow down with the best of them. If I freaked out because I ate a seven-layer lasagna or two jelly doughnuts, then threw in the towel with the bogus promise of starting over next week, I’d be a heck of a lot larger than the size I am now — and a lot unhappier.

It’s not the indulgence that ruins your healthy-living program; it’s your reaction to it. Don’t give it another thought, and get right back on your program. It really is this simple.

I blew off exercising today. I am pathetic.

There will be a day when you ditch your intended workout. Refrain from dramatically labeling yourself a loser and don’t give so much power to a single missed session. It is only when we get into the habit of skipping workouts that trouble begins. If you miss a day of exercise, make it up later in the week or just resume your usual exercise schedule without wigging out over it. Aim to work out consistently but not obsessively.

The scale hasn’t budged in five days, ergo, everything I’m doing to lose weight is a waste of time.

I went over this in last month’s column, and it is worth repeating. Your weight will fluctuate up and down while in the process of dropping body fat. Weight loss is never a straight line downward from Point A to Point B. It is a lumpy, bumpy slope of a line, with little increases in weight occurring here and there as the line continues downward.

Don’t let a small, seemingly inexplicable increase in weight cause you to give up and dive head first into a vat of bread pudding. Stay the course of your healthy-eating plan, knowing there will be weeks when weight loss is a little slower, then a little faster. You will reach your goal if you stick with it.

If you let your mind sabotage your weight-loss efforts, it will sabotage your success. Get out of your own head. If you stray off course, stay calm, don’t overreact — and above all, don’t quit.

Catherine Bongiorno is a personal trainer, nutritional therapist and owner of Lift To Lose Fitness & Nutrition. Email her at or visit for more information.

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