By Guest Blogger Bonnie Pfiester

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”, but sometimes it’s the small stuff that adds up to much bigger problems – especially when it comes to diet and fitness.

As a gym owner and trainer, I have watched many people struggle to reach their goals. Rarely is it their exercise program that is lacking. Most of the time, it’s what they do once they leave the gym that can cause plateaus and setbacks.

Here are 8 mistakes that can slow progress and sabotage workouts.

1. Don’t get enough sleep. Studies have shown sleep-deprivation causes increased hunger and decreased metabolism. Getting consistent quality sleep may help prevent high-carbohydrate cravings, like cake, ice cream, candy, bread and pasta. Sleep is also important part of a fitness program because that is the time your body works to repair muscle and tissue. Sleep experts suggest 7-9 hours of sleep a night for the average adult.

2. Skip breakfast. Researchers have shown people who eat breakfast eat fewer calories through out the day. Since your metabolism follows your blood sugar, eating breakfast also gives your metabolism the boost it needs to start burning calories. If you skip breakfast, you skip a great opportunity to start your day off right.

3. Don’t eat often enough. If you go several hours between meals, your metabolism slows down. In addition, because you went so long between meals, you are also much more likely to make poor choices and overeat when you finally do eat. If you want to keep your metabolism revved and control your portions, it’s important you keep your blood sugar up by eating 5-6 small snacks and meals a day. You will not only burn more calories, but you feel much more energetic too.

4. Disciplined in the gym but not in the kitchen. I’m amazed by the people who have so much self-control in the gym, but no self-control when it comes to eating. Your weight is all about checks and balances – and you can’t possibly balance your body account if you don’t consider both deposits (food) and withdrawals (workout). One 3-mile run can be easily erased with one cookie. That’s a lot of hard work erased in 2 minutes.

5. Don’t track calories. Many people are eating a lot more calories, and a lot less protein, than they think. Counting calories and tracking protein intake is a great way to put you on the fast track to fitness success. Just one week of tracking what you eat can be a huge eye-opener, and help correct diet blunders that sabotage weight loss success.

6. Play guessing games. If you rely on guesses to get you where you want to be, be prepared for slow results. Most people aren’t really good at the food guessing game. Food that looks healthy might not be that healthy at all. And, even if you are eating healthy, if you’re not measuring your food, then you’re likely eating more than you think. It’s impossible to count calories if you aren’t measuring your food or referencing serving sizes. If you want faster results, then get out your measuring cups, spoons and food scale – because knowledge is power.

7. Avoid Fat. Many people are scared to death of fat, but healthy fats offer a ton of benefits. Good fats increase energy and slow digestion, helping you to feel full and energized for a longer period of time. Healthy fat includes nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fish oils. If you feel like you are constantly hungry, or you feel like you lack energy, you may just need to boost healthy fats in your meal plan.

8. Drink your calories. Just one large sweet tea from McDonalds is 280 calories. Add a coffee with cream in the morning and a couple of beverages at night, and you easily could rack up 500-700 calories just in drinks. That’s half the calories allocated for an average 1200-1500 calorie meal plan. If you want to get fast results, don’t just watch what you eat – watch what you drink too!