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By Cathryne Keller, (TNS)

Your fridge is more colorful than a Lady Gaga performance. Your gym clothes are still sweaty from last night. Your Instagram feed is all sneakers and salads. So why isn’t that jerk of a scale budging?

Changing your food and fitness habits is challenging enough as it is, but if your healthy efforts aren’t even paying off in the dressing room, we don’t blame you for considering ditching your weight-loss plan all together in the name of Netflix and Nutella. But don’t do it.

Even if you think you’re doing everything right, there are a few minor weight-loss missteps that can majorly sabotage your slim-down success. We hit up star trainer Harley Pasternack, author of the new 5 Pounds, to find out the biggest reasons you’re not losing weight (and what to do about it):

1. You sit too much

“People focus too much on exercise and not enough on activity,” Pasternak said. Studies show that intense exercise sessions don’t offset the effects of too much sitting. Pasternak’s recommendation? “Get an activity tracker (he likes Fitbit) and aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.

2. Your workouts are played out

You’ve heard it before, and Pasternak will say it again: Mix it up at the gym. “If you’re bored, so are your muscles,” he said. “To keep your body changing, you have to keep the workouts changing.” Need some fitspiration? Try a new class or add strength training to your cardio sessions.

3. You’re guilty of cardio overkill

Sprinting and spinning until you pass out is not only grueling, but it can actually backfire. “There’s no need to always push yourself to exhaustion,” Pasternak said. “Too much cardio can increase your stress hormones and create an aversion to exercise.” Plus, all those burned calories increase your appetite and can lead to what Pasternak calls the “permissive effect”: “If you’ve killed it at SoulCycle, you’re more likely to avoid extra activity — like walking to meet a friend instead of driving — and say yes to the dessert tray because you tell yourself, ‘I’ve already spun today. I don’t need to do any more exercise and I deserve a treat.’ ”

4. You’re on a juice cleanse

“First of all, there is no such thing as a cleanse,” Pasternak said. “Our body is constantly replacing all of its cells and cleansing itself.” What’s more: Most juices are closer to dessert than a balanced meal. “Because of its high sugar content and lack of the three nutrients essential to qualify your food as a healthy meal — protein, fiber and healthy fats — a juice cleanse will make you hungry, irritable and can even make you gain weight in the long run.”

5. You’re never in your kitchen

“We’re eating out more than we ever have as a culture,” Pasternak said. “As a result, we have less control over what goes in our food, how it’s made, and its portion size.” Making your own food is key if you’re trying to slim down, and one easy way to whip up a healthy meal is to start blending. “Smoothies allow you to make a complete healthy meal in under a minute,” he said. Just be sure to include a little fat to fill you up, and some protein to help you build lean, metabolism-boosting muscle. Not sure what to put in your blend? Here are Harley’s top tips for building the perfect smoothie. (His new Power Blender can help you get the job done, too.)

6. You have a cheat day

“In the past, I used to agree that people could benefit from a cheat day, but it’s really too restrictive the other six days of the week,” Pasternak said. We end up gorging so badly on the seventh day that we tend to set ourselves backward and make ourselves feel ill in the process.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge every once in awhile. Pasternak’s advice for indulging your cravings without getting off track: “Replace the word ‘cheat’ with the word ‘free’ and replace the word ‘day’ with ‘meal,’ and allow yourself to have two ‘free meals’ a week.”

7. Your water bottle is empty

Downing a lot of water may be hard for some of us, but it’s worth it if you want to drop pounds. “Unchecked dehydration can be mistaken as hunger,” Pasternak said. “Stay hydrated with calorie-free beverages throughout the day.” His personal favorite? Sparkling water with a wedge of lime.

Photo:  Nottingham Trent University via Flickr


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