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11 Things About Weight Loss to Stop Believing

The secret to successful weight loss? Stop making these excuses. By Sasha Gonzales

Just because you did a tough workout, it doesn't mean you can eat anything you want. Photo: ariwasabi /

1. “I worked out today so I can afford to pig out.”

If you’ve been exercising like crazy but still aren’t losing weight, your eating habits may be to blame. If you burnt 300 calories at a Zumba class, all it takes are a couple of plain doughnuts or large chocolate bars to put those calories back on. But even seemingly harmless treats can undo your hard work, too – a can of soft drink, for instance, has about 140 calories and is equivalent to about 26 minutes of walking, while a small bag of potato chips, at about 170 calories, requires approximately 31 minutes of walking to burn off. We get that working out makes you hungry, but you’re better off refuelling with low-calorie foods – think a piece of fruit, a protein bar or half a wholemeal sandwich. 

2. “I can’t afford to buy healthy food.”

A couple of dollars can get you a good bundle or two of leafy greens at the supermarket. Add some diced chicken or lean beef for a few more bucks, and you’ve got a delicious and healthy stir-fry for two or three people. Spend the same amount of money at your favourite burger joint or hawker centre and you’ll certainly get a filling meal, but one that likely contains a ton of empty calories. Totally not worth it!

Other nutrient-dense ingredients that go a long way and won’t break the bank: chickpeas, beans and lentils, whole grains like oats and brown rice, pasta, cabbage, eggs, sweet potatoes, tinned fish like tuna and sardines, tofu, and tinned tomatoes.

(Also read: 7 Tips On How to Eat Healthy Food While On a Budget)

3. “I hate the taste of healthy food.”

Does the mere thought of eating broccoli make you want to gag? The trick is to find ways to make the healthy foods you hate more palatable. Make a filling smoothie with green apples, spinach and avocado, whip up a stir-fry using shredded red or green cabbage, whole-wheat pasta and prawns, incorporate some mashed sweet potato into homemade tuna patties, sneak a handful of bran into your favourite pancake or muffin recipe, or come up with your own healthy marinades and dressings to add zing to a tasteless salad. Search for recipes online and be creative.

(Also read: Make Soft & Fluffy Pancakes by Using Yogurt)

4. “I’ve always been overweight – it’s just how I’m built.” 

While some research does show a genetic link to obesity, in most cases, it is your lifestyle, including your eating and exercise habits that determine your weight. It’s not possible to change your body shape – so for instance, if you have a pear-shaped body there’s not much you can do to achieve a lithe or lanky frame – but you certainly can make the best of what you were born with, with the right diet and regular exercise. 

5. “I don’t have time to work out.”

If working out were that important to you, you would find a way to fit it in. And you don’t even need to exercise for hours for it to have a positive effect. The Health Promotion Board recommends just 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This can take the form of moderate to intense aerobic exercise, like swimming, walking and running, and moderate to intense strength exercises, such as lifting hand weights or moving heavy objects. Taking the stairs, carrying groceries and doing household chores are also great ways to get some incidental exercise into your day. 

6. “I just had a baby – there’s no way I’ll get my pre-pregnancy figure back.”

If it’s been several months since you had your baby and you’re finding it hard to shift the kilos you gained during pregnancy, ask your doctor to recommend a safe diet that will help you lose weight. When it comes to getting rid of your pregnancy weight, remember to go slow and steady (so no crash dieting!) because your health and the health of your baby are more important. If you’re breastfeeding, you also want to make sure that you’re consuming enough calories and nutrients. 

(Also read: Best Ways to Lose Weight After Pregnancy)

7. “Beverages don’t count towards my overall calorie intake.”

Oh yes, they do. Watch out for fruit juices – the fresh ones contain a lot of natural sugar called fructose, while the packaged varieties usually have sugar added to them. Other seemingly healthy drinks like fruit smoothies, too, contain a lot of sugar. And avoid fancy coffee and tea beverages at your favourite cafes – these are usually high in both fat and sugar. If you enjoy drinking alcohol, red wine is probably your best bet, with a 150ml glass containing just 120 calories – that’s a lot less than beer, cocktails and hard liquor.

8. “I’m tired / bored / stressed / depressed.”

Before you use any of these excuses to justify a pig-out session, stop and think about how you’ll feel after you eat. Food is not the answer to killing time, feeling more energetic, or getting over your sadness. If you’re tired, take a nap. If you’re bored, find something fun or interesting to do, and if you’re stressed or depressed, look for alternative ways to manage your emotions. 

(Also read: 4 Surprisingly Easy Weight Loss Hacks)

9. “This food is low in fat, so it’s fine.”

When fat is removed from a food, sugar is usually added to make it more flavourful, and many nutrition experts believe that sugar is worse than fat when you’re trying to lose weight. That’s not to say that you should avoid low-fat foods completely, of course – just check the sugar content on the label. Only buy low-sugar foods, that is, foods with less than 5g of sugar per 100g, or foods that are labelled “no added sugar”. That way, you can enjoy your low-fat treats without the guilt. 

10. “I’ll pig out now and start my diet tomorrow.”

So many of us have uttered these words, only to eat them the very next day. The problem is, when you say it once, it becomes easier to say, again and again, and before long, it becomes a part of your mentality. There’s nothing wrong with having a cheat day once in a while, but make sure it doesn’t extend into a whole week or month of eating poorly. Have a realistic eating plan that you can get back to the next day if you slip.

11. “Diets are boring.”

Dieting and healthy eating are not the same thing. The word “diet” is synonymous with deprivation, which is why people who go on a diet often get bored and fall off the wagon after a few days. If you want to eat healthily and still lose weight, you need to start thinking beyond insipid salads. No food should be off-limits, but you will get more nutrients and feel more satisfied if you stick to whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods from all the major food groups. If you’re eating high-calorie foods like cheese, do so in moderation. To add extra flavour to your meals, use a variety of herbs and spices and experiment with different cooking techniques. If you switch things up every day, there’s no way you’ll feel bored. 

A version of this article was published on May 13, 2016 on

Also read:

5 Easy Things You Can Do Every Day to Avoid Weight Gain at Work

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