Your bathroom scale doesn’t lie about your weight—but you might be fibbing to yourself. People tend to subtract a few pounds from their weight and add an inch or two of height in self-reported surveys, according to a 2013 Irish study from University College of Cork. It doesn’t end there. We also lie to ourselves about what it takes to drop pounds and keep them off. Being truthful to yourself can help you recognize the challenges you need to overcome in order to make real progress. Here are common weight loss lies you may be telling yourself—and how to face the facts.
I can’t afford to buy healthy food.
In reality, people prioritize and spend money on what’s important to them, said Amy Goodson, RD, co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run”—Eat ($17; amazon.com). “You may pay more for some healthy and organic food, but you are getting more nutrient quality for your dollar,” she said.
Plus, there are plenty of ways to save. Seasonal, local produce costs less than fruits and veggies shipped from afar—and the more-frugal frozen stuff is just as nutritious as fresh. You can also buy lean meats in bulk when they’re on sale and freeze what you don’t use for later.
I just don’t like the taste of healthy food.
Many people claim they don’t like “healthy food,” when the truth is they reject nutritious eats without even trying them, Goodson said. “It’s recommended you eat a food 10 times before you can determine if you really dislike it or not,” she said.
To acquire a taste for healthy food, Goodson suggests you try mixing the food you don’t like with foods you do like. For instance, if you hate broccoli but like rice and cheese, trying making broccoli rice casserole with brown rice and 2 percent cheese. Gradually increase the amount of broccoli in the dish each time you make it.
My jeans don’t fit because they shrunk in the wash.
Sure, this might be true with some of your clothing, said Dr. Brian Quebbemann, a bariatric surgeon in Newport Beach, Calif. “All my patients know, however, that normally clothes don’t tell lies. If you ask, ‘Have I gained weight?’ just put on that sleek dress, or Speedo from your swim team days, and you’ll have the honest answer.”
I worked out today, so I can have this bowl of ice cream.
No amount of exercise will overcome a high-calorie diet, said Quebbemann. Consider that walking for an hour at 4 mph (a very brisk pace) burns approximately 360 calories. A mere half-cup of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream contains 230 calories. A real-life serving of ice cream is typically double that, clocking in at 460 calories. That means you’d take in 100 calories more than you burned.
I eat healthy all week so I can indulge on the weekend.
No, you can’t follow a healthy diet during the workweek and then go hogwild on Saturday and Sunday without gaining weight.
“Eating 2,000 extra calories over a weekend will increase your daily average by close to 300 calories, causing a gain of 20 pounds within a year,” said Quebbemann.
If you do indulge during your downtime, then be sure to make up for it in the following days. A 2014 Cornell University study found that thin people are better at adjusting their calorie intake after a calorie-packed weekend than those who are overweight.
My mom’s fat, so no matter what I do, I’m always going to be overweight too.
Some research does show a genetic link to obesity, but in most cases, lifestyle trumps genetics.
“The most common reason some families are overweight and some are not is because some parents have poor eating habits and teach their kids the same,” said Quebbemann. “It’s often a cultural inheritance more than a physical one.”
I can have another glass of wine—it’s healthy!
Moderate wine consumption has proven heart-health benefits, but the keyword here is “moderate,” said Lori Zanini, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Having more than the recommended one-a-day for women or two-a-day for men cancels out the health benefits—and adds extra calories to your day to boot.